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Crazy for Ewe

Do the right thing - swatch

I always encourage you to swatch before jumping into a project, and with the Custom Fit program, you have to swatch before you can get your pattern.  I know it seems like they're making you finish your vegetables before you can have ice cream, but it's not meant to be mean.  The truth is that it's impossible to generate a Custom Fit pattern without a swatch because the patterns are all generated specifically for your measurements and your swatch. 

But it's still important to work a swatch even if you're not doing a Custom Fit sweater.  In fact, I think it's important to swatch even if you're doing something besides.  Here's why

  1. Get to know your yarn.   A swatch is your first date with your yarn.  You have a chance to see how it behaves on the needles and whether you like knitting it as much as you liked looking at in the skein.  Give yourself enough time with the yarn to make an informed decision on it.  Do you like the feel of it as you knit it?  Do you like way the fabric feels and looks at the gauge you've knit it? 
  2. See how your yarn looks knit up. That sounds pretty obvious, but it's amazing how much different a yarn can look when it's knit up, which is pretty important since you won't be wearing the skein.  This point is particularly important with multicolored yarns or yarns with an unusual construction or texture.  More often than not, you'll be even more in love with the yarn as you knit it than before. 
  3. See how your fabric reacts to washing. Some yarns grow, some shrink a smidge.  If that's the case, better know that ahead of time and adjust accordingly.  Not all yarns change, but they are all better after a nice warm bath.  I mean, who isn't?  Give your swatch a chance to show you just how lovely it can be.
  4. Practice your stitch pattern. If you're making a shawl or even a scarf with a relatively large number of stitches cast on, it's a good idea to cast on a few repeats of the pattern and work through it several times.  This process allows you to develop the muscle memory so that your hands and your brain are helping each other.  It's much easier to learn and make mistakes on 30 stitches than on 200.    Trust me.
  5. See if you like the fabric at sweater scale.  If you've every painted a room based on a paint chip and been unhappy with it, you know just where I'm going with this one.  You might adore a busy, high contrast yarn in a small accessory, but you may not like it for an entire sweater. Or you might love it.  But you won't know until you see it in a generous swatch.  Same with a striking color.  Give yourself a chance to see that yarn at sweater scale before you commit to covering your entire torso in it. 

Since the swatch is such an essential part of the Custom Fit Program, I put together a swatch guide for a nice big swatch that's easy to measure.  Give it a try - I'd love to hear what you think.  

I look forward to seeing you swatching in the shop, and around the table - you are always welcome here!

Back to 8 September 2015 Newsletter

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Beautiful Sweaters

Beautiful Sweaters
Recently I talked about the ugly sweater Today, I want to talk about beautiful sweaters.  Have you ever picked out a beautiful pattern to knit, worked it up perfectly, then when it was all done, it looked terrible and you never wore it?  Or maybe this is exactly the fear that's keeping you from knitting a sweater.  I totally get it.  A sweater is a big commitment of both time and money.  A failed sweater is not only a waste, it's a blow to our ego as well.  When a sweater doesn't look good on us, we look in the mirror and think, "What's wrong with my body that this sweater doesn't look good?"  But here's the truth.  There is NOTHING wrong with your body.  You need to look at that sweater and think, "What's wrong with this  Continue reading

My Custom Fit Tank

I've been talking so much about new Custom Fit program from Amy Herzog that we'll be offering - can you tell I'm excited about it?  Ginni and Mary and I have been busy running through the whole thing to get a feel for how to make it best work for you.  We've photographed and measured one another, analyzed our personal style preferences, and talked about our favorite sweaters and why we love them.  Armed with that information, we've each selected a solid sweater yarn and a Custom Fit Sweater design to knit for ourselves.  We've swatched and measured, washed and weighed (our swatch, that is).  We've input our measurements into the computer, and received our own custom fit pattern.  Pretty exciting stuff! It does seem like a lot of effort before the cast on, but it's really important to have a fabric you like, and know what's going to happen to it over time. And since you've done all that swatching ahead of time, when you get your patttern you can just cast on and get started.  

For my project, I've chosen Nantasket, Amy's simple scoop neck tank with a mesh lace trim.  (Photo courtesy of Amy Herzog Designs copyright 2013)

Nantasket tank

In her pattern photo, Amy's wearing this as a vest over a blouse, but I'm want it as a summer tank.  I've chosen beautiful Cotton Lustre from Rowan because it's a dream to knit and I love the feel of the fabric against my skin.  Since it is going to be an against-the-skin garment, I was really happy that my swatch came through the wash and dry absolutely perfectly.  My stockinette gauge is 4.36 stitches per inch, and the swatch didn't change a bit in the laundry.


It's been a very busy week at the shop, with lots of new yarns coming in, so it was Friday before I was finally able to cast on, but it goes really fast.  You start with some garter stitch and then  this pretty little mesh lace edge worked on a US size 9.  Even though this is a lace pattern, I'm using my Addi Turbo needles because Cotton Lustre is a tape yarn and knits best for me on a less pointy needle.  


I've just changed to a US size 10 for the body since the yarn is so stretchy. In this larger picture below you can see one of the things that makes Amy Herzog designs fit so well and look so nice:  There's waist shaping in every sweater, and the shaping happens under the bustline rather than at the sides.  Notice the stitch markers?  That 's where my waistline decreases happen.  This positioning of the shaping gives the garment a flattering line and creates a structure that conforms to your body. 

I'll be posting more about this process as I go along.  If you're interested in the Custom Fit program, be sure to register for one of our workshops.

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