Most of the special orders for the knitalong came in yesterday, so this is the perfect time to talk about the first steps of our project! Though our first in-person meeting isn’t until January (Sunday, January 12, 1-3pm) I plan to cast on sometime New Year’s Day in celebration.
Before I get started on a sweater project I like to prep my pattern. I wrote about this in detail in a previous post, but here’s an overview of what I did for this project. I make a working copy of my pattern, which, in this case, means printing it. Since this pattern has two different versions at two different gauges, I printed only the version that I’m going to make. This way, I don’t have to flip through pages I don’t need! Then I circled all of the numbers that pertain to my size sweater so that don’t make any silly mistakes. Take note that this pattern features measurements in both inches and centimeters. Whichever system you use, circle those measurements and cross out the other.
Next, I like to knit my gauge swatch. Celeste wrote a really fabulous, detailed blog post on swatching for a project – click here and read it through, there’s no way I can top it.
I generally start with the needle recommended in the pattern and then change up or down from there as I check out the fabric. I cast on a few extra stitches than the 4 inch gauge measurement so that I have a little wiggle room in measuring. So for my KAL swatch I cast on 22 stitches on size 8 needles. I knit for a few inches and I thought it looked a bit looser than it should. Lo and behold! My stitches were a bit too large and I had too few stitches over 4 inches. I decided to drop down one needle size to 7 and see what happens there. Before I changed sizes, I purled a row on the knit side to show where the change happened. Sometimes I will also write notes on what needle sizes I used because, let’s face it, my brain can be a little scattered!
My gauge was spot on with the 7s, which is way smaller than I expected! It could be that I am becoming a looser knitter, or that this yarn is spun in a particular way or that these needles are more slippery than others. Whatever caused my stitches to be bigger than usual, I’m glad I swatched and didn’t dive head-on into a way-too-large-sweater.
The final step was to give my swatch a bath and see if the yarn reacted at all. I uncurled the edges of my swatch but didn’t stretch it out and pinned it down to dry. Now that I’ve verified my needle size, I’m ready to cast on New Year’s Day!