The SwirlAlong in Leonardtown was quite lively. Connie and Jeannie both cast on and were able to join in the round. Sigrid swatched, and Shelly got ready to swatch. Althea brought in two swatches she had worked so that she could decide which needle size was right for her project. She had worked one on size 6 needles, and the other on size 4
Here are the two swatches right off the needles. The swatch on the left was done on size 6 needles; the one on the right, size 4.
You may be at this exact spot with your Swirl. It would be tempting to simply measure the gauge here, but it would only give you a piece of the picture. So much of a Swirl depends on the blocking, and your taste in fabric. Sandra McIver gives details on this point in her blog here. Following Sandra's lead, I got out the blocking board and we pinned the two swatches into 8x8 squares. First the swatch from size 6 needles.
As we pinned this swatch, it needed no stretching to get to 8 inches across. In fact, I felt as if I needed to smoosh it into its 8" boundary a bit, even with stretching the length to 8 inches. All pinned out, it looks nice, but really just a tad droopy.
Swatch done on size 6 needles
The size 4 needle swatch needed a little coaxing to reach 8" in width, but it wasn't a fight. Same with getting it to 8" in length. Pinned out, it showed the structure of the alternating merino and Kidsilk Haze welts.
Swatch done on size 4 needles
Blocked side by side
Althea and I discussed the possibility of doing another swatch on size 5 needles but she decided that she was going with the size 4 needles. I think that's a good decision, and here's why:
Althea really liked the look of the fabric at that gauge
Her fabric already has plenty of drape and will benefit from a slightly tighter gauge overall
The fabric lends itself to hard blocking if necessary
Althea is petite, and the coat could end up too long if it stretched out, which is more likely in a loosely knit fabric.
I had to rip out my swatch Friday as I had not been paying attention and had done the wrong number of rows in my welts. Alas...
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