Sweater Knitting: Swatching

sweaterknitting
I only ever wrote one post in my sweater knitting series and decided it was time to bring that back and hopefully do more regularly scheduled posts about it since sweater knitting is my favorite and I still has so much more to learn. But today for this Friday I really have more of a question…
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How often do you swatch?

I will be the first to admit that I feel like swatching is such a pain, when I’m ready to go I want to get started but it’s a necessary evil. I don’t want to spend all my time knitting a sweater that ultimately doesn’t fit and I’ve had a couple of mishaps early on with ill fitting sweaters becaus I just didn’t pay enough attention to knitting a gauge swatch or two to find the right needle for the project. And creating gauge swatches also lead me to consider using different weights of yarn and needle sizes to achieve gauge but get a different fabric. A perfect example is my Colorblocked Boyfriend Cardigan.
Colorblocked boyfriend sweater
The original pattern had a gauge of 16 x 22 stitches for a 4×4 inch gauge on size 8 needles. I got the same results using dk weight yarn and size 10 needles. It created a lighter fabric with a bit more drape to it which is exactly what I wanted. So do you always make a swatch before you get started on a large project? I’m curious to hear what you all do.

Sweater Knitting: The First Sweater

I’m finally introducing a new series of posts about sweater knitting and the lessons I learn along the way.
Sweater Knitting: What I Have Learned Series
This isn’t a tutorial series (at least not now) because I’m not an expert. I am always learning. What I want this to be is a space to share what I’ve learned, you tell me what you’ve learned and we all share in hopes that it will help someone else. That’s what I love about the blogging community and knitting in general – we help each other grow in our skills. So to kick this off I thought I’d start by sharing my very first sweater knitting project.
Gemini Sweater
Meet Gemini, my very first sweater. Little did I know it would begin my love affair with Jane Richmond patterns and sweater knitting in general. Gemini was an interesting starting point for sweaters but it was the suggested pattern for use at my LYS’s Intro to Sweater knitting class. Reasons why I like this as a first step into sweater knitting:

  1. It’s short sleeved. You get just enough finishing that you have a sleeve but you don’t have to do a full or quarter length sleeves. Baby steps, folks.
  2. It’s top down so you can try it on as you go along.
  3. It had some lace detail just at the top. It kept things interesting.
  4. The pattern was easy to read and understand and it was free! (I should also point out that Lion Brand has a free My First Pullover and My First Cardigan patterns that are also both free).

When I learned how to knit in 2011 I went in stages. First year I knit a billion scarves and baby blankets, the next year I added hats, then it was fingerless mitts and gloves. My patterns were getting more complex and so in 2014 I took a sweater knitting class just to see if I’d like it. I kind of loved it. I could knit an actual garment that fit me in as much time as it took to make a baby blanket. So what did I learn from that first sweater?

  1. Do not be intimidated by a large project. There is no deadline, it’s not a race. Do what you can do and frog it back if you make a mistake.
  2. If you can, take a class at your local yarn store. It’s nice to have someone give you tips, answer questions and help you learn from your mistakes. Plus you’re learning with others who are probably just as intimidated by the thought of knitting a sweater.
  3. Your swatch gauge is super important. Buy that extra skein of yarn because you might make 2 or 3 different swatches just to figure out your closest gauge to the pattern. Without getting the right gauge your project will be all over the place.

Six Point #2
The next sweater I did by myself after this one was the Six Point tee that I’ve made again. I wanted to make something fairly quickly after to keep my knowledge fresh and I went with a bulky weight knit to make it a quicker project and my first solo sweater project was a success! So if you’re dipping your toe into the sweater knitting pool, what intimidates you? And if you’re a seasoned sweater knitting pro, what have you learned? Do share!