Tag Archives: swatch

Hazel the Horrendous

Remember how excited I was that Hazel was progressing so well? Well, she’s not any longer.

I took her to the dance studio Sunday morning when I met up with R to help her get some audition photos taken. I’m the one with a key to the building, so I got there when she did and then sat and knit while she warmed up. Things were going fine. I’d cast on with the Dove Gray the night before, and made it through most of the initial increases before L (our lovely photographer) got there, and put it aside while we picked out poses and took pictures.

Immediately after R was done, I taught my usual Sunday private lesson, and then went out to teach a ballet master class to a local dance team coached by my private lesson student’s mother. Hazel rode along in my tote bag, and all was well until I grabbed my keys to head back into my apartment  at the end of the day, and dropped them into my Midnight Heather yarn skein. They got tangled. I got them untangled with no damage to the yarn, but the skein was a mess with strands pulled out every which way. I still had the Dove Heather on the needles, and I did a bit more on that Sunday evening.

And then I dropped a stitch. One measly little stitch, which ran back down and got terribly confused with all of the different increases going on. I didn’t have a small enough crochet hook. Bouclé was closed.  I looked at my progress, and decided that my tension was way too tight, the dropped stitch was beyond hope, and that I was sick of that stupid whale.  I named the Dove Heather nose a gauge swatch, and I cut the yarn.  I don’t think I could have handled frogging it.  That left me with a fresh start on one skein, and another terribly tangled skein sitting in shame at the very bottom of my darkest bag.

I didn’t knit at all yesterday.  It was the first day this year that I haven’t knit anything.  I didn’t feel like picking up either my fuzzy pants or my pointe covers, Hazel was hidden away, and I’m still stalled choosing/making up a beret pattern.  Today, I cut my Midnight Heather yarn as well, writing that off as another too-tight gauge swatch, and I untangled the skein while winding it into a center-pull ball.  It was better than expected, with only the outer couple of layers being tangled, and they really were just tangled and not knotted.

So tonight I’m off to our Tuesday knitting club at the studio.  R, L, and I have been talking about this for a while, because L and I are both relatively long-time knitters and crocheters, R just learned over winter break, and we have several other knitters and crocheters of varying levels at the studio.  It should be fun.  I’m going to cast on again for Hazel, and we’ll see how this incarnation goes.  I think I’m going to try the double knitting right from the beginning this time and see if that goes any better.  Wish me luck!


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Organizing Swatches and Knitting Boots

I knit tiny swatches.  They’re usually about 2″ square.  I’ve just never bought into the idea that you need a 4″ or 6″ square to check gauge accurately.  Maybe it’s just that I’m cheap, but I’ve never had any problems checking gauge and stitch patterns over 1.5″ and then converting.  Sometimes, I don’t even check the gauge at all, since I’m always so close to the listed gauge for every yarn, and it just doesn’t matter that much for some things.  Of course, this leaves me with lots of little squares of knit fabric that got lost in my stash with astonishing regularity, and were always unlabeled.  Enter the index cards.

A 3×5 card is the perfect size to hold one of my little swatches (or 2, if I’m testing a couple of different stitch patterns) and my notes on what yarn it is, what needles I knit the swatch(es) on, and what the measured gauge is.  I can even paper clip the ball band to the card when I finish the ball.  Then they get stacked together and tossed in a box, where I can flip through them whenever I need to look up care instructions or check what the original gauge was.

I just cut a 1.5″ square piece of muslin or other scrap fabric and staple it to the top of the card.  I make my notes, and pin the swatch to the muslin.  This way, I can remove the swatch whenever I need to examine it more closely.  For things that I don’t swatch, I still note the gauge that the finished item ended up with, and I pin on the trimmings after I weave in the ends.

It’s working pretty well so far.  I’m going to need to pick up more index card boxes eventually, because the swatches and paper clipped bands are thick, and I need to figure out how I’m going to organize things.  Should I order them alphabetically by yarn manufacturer?  By yarn weight or gauge?  By color, fiber, date, or how much yarn remains?

Regardless of that, my latest consideration is my pointe shoe covers.  I’m putting the pattern together like a top down sock, but I’ve never knit a sock before.  I don’t know how I managed to knit for 16 years of my life and never even cast on for a sock, but that’s how it goes.  I bought some worsted weight Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks, and the gauge, of course, works out exactly as it’s supposed to on the recommended needles, but now I’m afraid that I don’t have enough.  With that in mind, and considering the fact that I’ve never encountered a heel gusset before and I haven’t done short rows in several years, I’m going to knit up a test pair in some Caron One Pound cheap acrylic.  The swatch for that, on a smaller needle to get a tighter fabric, is on the far left in the photo above.

I’m making them large, with no calf shaping, so they’re bulky and warm over the ankles and can fit over my pointe shoes.  I’m looking at cable panels for the front and back of the boot, and some intricate cabling to go down the side and split half to the instep and half to the heel flap.  I’m just glad that with this yarn cabling without a needle isn’t a problem!  My Cornflower Cowl was an exercise in patience with the slippery yarn on fast Addi Turbos.

My fuzzy pants are on hold until I get a JoAnn shipment with some woolly nylon.


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