Okay, first of all I really appreciate you all. Secondly, do I really have to do all that work to achieve the right gauge?. I noticed someone referred to a sight called knitty.com where there are detailed instructions on how to knit and to block. My first question is the instructions say to knit your swatches for one to two days. Are they saying for you to continually knit swatches or to take the one swatch you have completed, take it apart and re-knit to see if you get different results. I don’t know how many swatches I should be knitting. 20-30. Also, I have never blocked wool before and I am not sure if Manos Del Uruguay should be blocked. There is nothing on the card that says it is okay or not okay. My concern is this yarn is not cheap and I don’t want to continually knit and block all these swatches and when I look up I have used a whole ball of yarn or more. Isnt it true that the yarn is no good to use once it has been blocked because you cannot re-block it. I am so out of the loop and confused right now.
When what you’re making needs to be an exact measurement, then a swatch is a must. If it’s a yarn that is known to change considerably after washing, then you should block your swatch.
I guess technically, you should wash your swatches, but to be honest, I don’t. I was going to once but I lost the swatch and knitted the sweater anyway. It was fine. :rollseyes:
However, there was another sweater that grew to monstrous proportions after I washed it. I took a chance and it was a problem. I threw it in the dryer and it survived, though.
When I do a gauge swatch, and I don’t always, to be honest if I’m working with a yarn I’ve used before, if the gauge doesn’t come out right, I rip it out and knit with a different sized needles. Once I know what size needles to use, I rip out the swatch and use it. If I think the yarn looks a little funky, I save it for seaming.
If I’m making something that involves doing sleeves I start them first and then measure for gauge. I know that I generally have to go up a needle size and start there. I’m usually ok, but there have been times I’ve had to start over.
Now, mind you, this is how I do it. It may not be the right way, but I’m lazy. I just like to do the knitting part. I have, in the distant past ignored gauge and knit up many things that were too small.
If you’re making a scarf or something like that, and the exact size isn’t critical, you can be more flexible, too.
Thank you Ingrid for your feed back but I am a beginner and don’t feel comfortable guessing. Does anyone know whether it is better to block your swatch or not. I have never heard of anyone else doing that and would prefer not to if I can avoid it. Also, there was a link in another question about gauge that leads you to knitty.com. The information was vast and impressive, but the writer talked about making swatches for one to two days. What does that mean. Does it mean you will need to make alot of different swatches or taking the one you already made apart and starting over lots of time until you feel you are an expert. I am trying to avoid wasting to much yarn
If you re-read the article carefully, I think you’ll see that she doesn’t mean knit a bazillion swatches over the course of 2-3 days. In fact, the only reference to days that I can find at all is “Then carefully pin it to a wire hanger and let it hang for two days.” after you’ve washed it. This is not something that everyone does.
Blocking is very, very easy. All you do do is dunk your knitted swatch in water. Using a dry, and VERY absorbent towel, squish all the water out of your swatch. The reason fo the towel is to avoid agitating the fibers too much and causing the swatch to felt - Which is what happens when you’ve accidentally washed your favourite wool sweater in the machine and it came out too small for your newborn cousin. The shrinkage is caused by the felting of the fibers. After you’ve squished out as much water as possible, just pull the swatch into a square shape and let it dry. You might want to pin it down to the surface with sime sewing pins. Not everyone finds this to be neccessary.
Measure your swatch before and after blocking/washing in order to see if there is a change in your gauge. That’s the whole point, is to see if your garment or whatever you knit will be the same after its been exposed to the elements you will expose it to by washing/blocking it. You can also block by just steaming it with an iron. Do Not Press The Iron To The Wool. Just hold it above the wool and let the steam get all over it. Tug your swatch into the square shape you want, and let it dry.
Swatching is essential if you want to replicate a garment from a pattern, or if you want to create your own pattern and you want your garment to fit you. Ignoring your swatches is likely to let the knitting gods take potshots at you and you will invariably end up with garments that more often than not do not fit you - Or even a circus elephant.
If you are confused by what I’ve said about blocking, feel free to read this article: http://knitty.com/ISSUEwinter02/FEATdiyknitter.html as many times as you need to. If it has any specific points which confuse you, feel free to ask about them here.
Thank you AidanM. But I think you are confused. The article I was referring to could be quite confusing. Here is the excerpt that got me stomped:
If you’re going to spend the time it takes knitting a sweater, you should hold off on the instant gratification and spend a day or two making a gauge swatch.That’s right, I said a day or two. It’s little enough time to spend if you really want your end product to come out right.
As you can see it doesnt say whether or not you are knitting a swatch blocking it and then ripping it up and starting over or, if during the day or two you are knitting many, many, many swatches. There are alot of hours in a day or two and I could probably knit a ton if that is what she is instructing me to do for practice sake.
I do not believe that she means knit many swatches. I think that she simply means that you should be thorough and careful. Of course, if you are having difficulty getting the correct gauge for a pattern it COULD take two days or so to experiment with different needles - In between crying from frustration and the interruptions of daily life. However, if your swatch matches gauge on the first try then you have only spent a few hours at most on it. If, however, you have to try seven different needle sizes (It happens.) you might end up taking one or two days.
I’m pretty sure it just means that the whole process of knitting a swatch, measuring, washing, re-measuring, re-swatching (if needed) can take a while.
I knit a swatch for just about everything. But I’ve never washed or blocked one.
I’m super new to knitting, so I may be wrong. But maybe they mean to start the swatch one day, let it sit, then continue it the next day. I know for me, my stitches aren’t perfectly uniform all the time yet, and I might have more or less tension after not knitting for a while. That way you can see if your stitches remain the same size after taking a break for a while, like you would do with a large project like a sweater.
That’s exactly right. The tension with which we knit varies with our moods, our alertness, all of those things. Amy has a good lesson on gauge [ur.=http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/forum/viewtopic.php?p=90556&highlight=gauge#90556]here.