All I’ve done this past month is swatch. Swatch, swatch and more swatch, for a good yarn, gauge and fit for this lace cardigan. Even the left front that I ambitiously embarked on eventually turned out to be just a giant swatch.
A friend of mine asked if I do items for sale, I said no, but I would be happy to knit something for her daughter, and picked this one out, as it seemed relatively simple, yet interesting and dressy for a kid’s cardigan. She liked it, we went back and forth a couple of times about fit and colour and yarn choices, and we decided on the lovely rust Supreena pure wool DK I had just found in a local wool store.
So I began swatching. First with size 5s. It was going to be too large. Then with size 4s. Still too large. Before going down a further needle size I checked the chatter on this pattern on Ravelry and found that pretty much everyone said the sizes ran very large, the 2 year old size fitting 4-6 year olds, and so on. The designer very kindly emailed me a revised pattern, but still cautioned me about the sweater being roomy, so I started over with the smallest size for a 2 year old, even though my friend’s daughter is nearly 4.
But after finishing the left front, I realised that somehow, it wasn’t working. The lace pattern means that blocking the fabric would be both a disadvantage and an advantage for kids’ sweaters, which could be stretched to grow but also turn out huge. But even if I nailed down the sizing, this particular lace motif somehow just eluded me. It is gorgeous, but unintuitive, and for every finished swatch I made, there were potentially several that were frogged midway because I kept making mistakes.
So, I finally decided to abandon this pattern. But the kid’s lace cardigan bug bit me, and I decided to play around with other leaf-like motifs. Plus the idea that kids’ sweaters should involve minimal finishing and fuss is also very deeply ingrained, so instead of separate pieces, am tinkering with a seamless one instead. Yes, that means figuring out diagonal increases and decreases, and… you guessed it, more swatching. The top one is Supreena on size 4s (6 spi stockinette), and the bottom is Bouton d’Or Mango cotton/modal, at 5.25 spi (stockinette).
I realised that I don’t really know how best to measure stitches per inch in lace patterns. Do you pick a stockinette row and measure there, or swatch a fixed number of stitches and then measure the entire swatch? But I may have finally hit upon some workable numbers and instructions, to the extent that I can pretend that the latest iteration is not just a swatch but may even progress into project-hood and escape early termination.
We shall see. What is knitting without some swatching pain?