Monday, January 2

Planning... and swatching... (fail to plan and you plan to fail)

I have discovered that I am a person that likes to report things "after the fact", rather than posting about what I plan to do. Yes, I like making plans and stating goals, but more in a longer-term sense, not a day-by-day "to do" list. Part of it is that it is easier for me to write in the evenings, after the house has quieted down a bit. The other part of it is that I know I rarely get done everything I plan to in any given day. I tend to "over-book" myself. The longer term goals are more realistic for me to complete on time... it's just how I seem to manage.

Yesterday is a typical example of my normal goals. It was Sunday, even though it really didn't feel like one, that means I'm supposed to be doing project finishing details. I ended up doing the opposite by starting a new project! I swatched for my "Tweed Cardigan" (link in yesterday's post), which I've named "A Little Bit Irish" in my Ravelry projects. My intent was to simply do the swatch, and then get on with other things I wanted to get done. As I half-expected, the needles called for in the pattern gave me a swatch that was off by one stitch width-wise, and dead-on for the row count. This is the same result I had when swatching for my cabled pullover (Gonna Try to Cable Pullover in my Ravelry projects. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm for this project -- or was it haste to get on with something else? -- I decided to go *up* one size of needles for the next swatch, but I was trying for 17 stitches per 4 inches instead of the 16 stitches I got on my sample.

A quick lesson in gauge/ tension:

For those of you that are muggles (meaning non-knitters/crocheters), I will explain the importance of gauge for this project. Even my middle DD, who is a knitter and crocheter, looked at me puzzled when I said it was off by one stitch. It is only one stitch, how much difference can it make? A lot actually! The cardigan I am making has a finished chest measurement of 48 inches (~122cm). The gauge swatch is 4 inches (~10cm). A difference of just one stitch in the swatch means a difference of 16 stitches in the project. That means if I don't adjust my gauge, that I will end up with a sweater that's a full 4 inches larger than I want!
Needless to say, my 2nd swatching  attempt didn't match the stitch count I needed! Finally, by going down a size, I got the prescribed tension on my 3rd swatch. My row count is off slightly, but this patterns is written in such a way that the row gauge isn't as critical. I will be trying this cardigan on frequently while doing the shaping so I can add in extra rows when I need to. A good portion of (all? more than?) the time I wanted to spend knitting was spent on these swatches. After all that, I didn't really have time to do much more, but I did anyway! A needle of the proper size was assembled, a fresh skein of yarn obtained, and the collar was cast on. I only meant to do about 2 rows, with the intent of finishing the collar next time... however this skein produced a bigger wad of yarn barf than the previous, so I simply kept knitting until it was all cleaned up... which ended up being 6 rows. No time left to work on the "must-do" projects...

and that is why I don't write at the beginning of my day!

Nicole =o)

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