Swatches & Gauge for the Uninitiated

Mr. T knits swatches, he don't mess around

Some knitters never knit a swatch; some knitters are fanatical about swatches. At STASH, we believe in moderation and like to test gauge in the following situations:

  • If the finished piece needs to fit a human being
  • If the finished piece needs to fit a fur baby
  • If we are not really sure if the yarn is going to do what we want it to do (such as knit up in gauge)
  • If we are about to invest a lot of time and money into a knitting masterpiece
  • If the yarn supply is limited and we need to be sure that we will not run out (so if you buy yarn on vacation, buy three skeins so that you have enough to make SOMETHING for gosh sakes!)

When we get crazy and do not knit a swatch:

  • If we already “know” the yarn and have knit with it
  • If we are whipping up a flat or flexible project like a scarf, wrap, or cowl and are using the right needle size and yarn
  • If we are not feeling too uptight about the results
  • If we are lazy and want to chance it

What happens if you don’t knit a swatch and figure out your gauge?

  • Your piece can be too big or too small
  • Pieces may not sew together nicely
  • Your hard knitting work is for nothing
  • Sad, right?

So, how to swatch?

  • Look at the pattern for gauge notes, yarn size and needle size recommendation.
  • Start with the correct weight yarn and recommended needle size.
  • Cast on enough stitches (plus a few more) needed to measure the gauge recommendation.
  • Knit up that swatch. You can even get fancy and add a seed stitch or garter stitch border to get it lay flat but this is personal preference.
  • BLOCK that swatch. Sorry, this part sucks and is why many skip the whole swatching step but if you lightly wash it, block it to size, and THEN measure it, you will get a sweater that will actually fit, or a shawl that isn’t the size of a house.
  • Once the blocked swatch is dry, find a ruler and measure the number of stitches across, and the number of rows up (usually within a 4” x 4” or 10cm x 10cm square).
  • If the swatch gods shine upon you, you nailed your gauge! Yay!
  • If the swatch gods taunt you, your gauge is off.
  • Too many stitches per inch? Move up one needle size and knit another swatch, repeating steps 4 to 6. Boo!
  • Too few stitches per inch? Move down one needle size and knit another swatch, repeating steps 4 to 6 Hiss!
  • “Cheater” Swatches

    I like to do cheater swatches so that I can rest knowing that I am somewhat on the mark. To do a cheat swatch:

  • Cast on a bunch of stitches with your desired yarn … Continue reading
  • STASH’s crazy n’ crafty Christmas lists

    gift ideas for crafty peepsWe asked ourselves “what would we like to see under the tree from STASH?” and then we made dream lists. Then things really got out of control. 

    So here are FIVE lists chock full of last minute gift ideas for the crafty peep in your life (or for you, just write it down and send your boyfriend our way, we can take it from there and you can get that Malabrigo Rasta that just arrived).

    Ho Ho Ho!

    Three great things for crafty kids:

    1. Rico knitting doll & yarn

    2. Rubber band loom mega set

    3. Sublime Stitching beginner embroidery kit

    Top three yarns for the sock knitter:

    1. Rain City Knit Superbrights

    2. Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock

    3. Manos del Uruguay Allegra

    Three things for the non knitter:

    1. Kirikipress Embroidery Softies

    2. Fancy Tiger Needle Felting Kits

    3. Sublime Stitching Ultimate Embroidery Kit

    4 yarns for the new knitter

    1. Malabrigo Rasta + 10 mm needles

    2. Cascade Lana Grande + 10 mm needles

    3. Universal Uptown Worsted + 5mm needles

    4. Cascade Superwash 128 + 8mm needles

    6 ideas for the knitter who has everything:

    1. Adorable Kitten  & Yarn salt n’ pepper shakers

    2. Stylish rice baskets for holding’ projects

    3. Addi Turbo machine knitter

    4. Mini Big Loop yarn & needles

    5. A gift certificate (any amount you want!)

    6. Locally made project baskets (as seen in the top pic!)

     

    Appease the Yarn Gods

    In order to appease the yarn gods, we had to release our classes for the masses before the STASH fall newsletter was released. Feel free to check them out here!

    This poses the question: what would have happened if we had angered the yarn gods? Here are few examples of their wrath:

    • You would get more than one knot in a 100 gram ball of yarn
    • Dye lots will be unavailable if more yarn is needed
    • You would lose two of your 5 double point needles, rendering the set useless
    • Sleeves on your sweater will be too short
    • Felted items will not felt/superwash items will felt at random
    • Children will lose one mitten

    Yep, it could have gotten ugly. Never anger the yarn gods.

    Peace Fleece

    Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 9.49.20 PMThis aran weight yarn is the tweediest yarn at STASH and there is something so wholesome about it, so hearty and robust, that it keeps on catching our eye! We made the Handful of Berries mitten with it and darn if it isn’t PERFECT.

    Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 7.59.07 AMPeace Fleece is based in the USA but it’s history involved partnering with independant wool producers in Russia to spin together a blend of worsted yarn that reflects a needed harmony between the two countries. Seriously people, this is peace-keeping one stitch at a time. There is nothing nicer than a yarn that warms the heart AND the hands!

    At a generous 200 yards per skein, this wool is a lover, not a fighter. Now made with a 75% American/Navajo fine wool / 25% Mohair blend, it has a unique texture that showcases Peace Fleeces lovely colour ways.  

    There you go! That is the STASH scoop on our line of Peace Fleece worsteds. Bam!

    Three free patterns for our new cotton

    Pima Cotton Sport weight at STASHWe just got Cascade Ultra Pima Fine cotton in 10 colours, a lovely sport weight with enough sheen to just make your day. Now we get to daydream about what make with it…

    Here are three free patterns on Ravelry that inspired us, we hope that they inspire you too!

    newborn hat with a touch of lace – a great summer gift for a new mum

    niemeyer shawl – a quick lacey knit with lovely drape

    monteagle bag – the perfect knit market bag to squish into your purse

    Keep on craftin’ on!

    Library Cards!

    cardSeptember is Library Card Sign up Month! To celebrate (and to encourage you to visit your local library), here are our seven fave books available in the Calgary Public Library system:

    mason dixon book review1. Mason Dixon: The Curious Knitters Guide by Kaye Gardiner & Anne Meador Shayne

    Written by a pair of knitting enthusiasts with a fun approach to knitting, this book features easy, inspiring patterns that can be knit or crocheted up from a variety of yarns. From felted, handled boxes to the scribble scarf, you will be hard pressed not to find a pattern that inspires you to pick up your needles and try something new.

    All wound up book review2.  All Wound Up: The yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

    Just about the best darned knitting humourist out there (are there others?) and CANADIAN to boot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has done it again and written a knitting book that is helpful. insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny. ANY book by this author is well worth the read. Her blog, the Yarn Harlot, is a great glimpse into her style, which can best be described as “a real person wrote this who doesn’t mind  some self depreciating humour and feels as irritated/guilty/frazzled as we are when the house is messy.” You will want to be her friend and invite her over for wine and a good discussion about Battlestar Galactica.

    Last Minute Knitted Gifts book review3.  Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson (available as a library e-book)

    Written by the owner of Purl Soho (one of STASH’s fave knitting shops in New York City), this book became an instant classic when released. Filled with luscious photography and clever, quick project ideas, the hardest part is deciding which pattern to knit up first. Also worth checking out is More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Both books are available as e-books!

    Simple Times book review4. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People – By Amy Sedaris

    So funny that it borders on offensive (it has a chapter called Crafting for Jesus – you have been warned) , this book is nothing short of insane. Amy Sedaris, little sister to creative non-fiction genius David Sedaris, likes to take the clean cut mythologies of Martha Stewart craftiness and just mangle them. She does kitsch dead pan, isn’t afraid to look like a lunatic while doing it, and even suggests pre-crafting stretching exercises in 1980′s leotards. This book is AWESOME.

    teeny tiny book review5. Teeny Tiny Moichimoichi by Anna Hrachovec (available as a library e-book)

    At STASH we are big fans of anything knit small, so prepare for your mind to be blown away by … Continue reading

    Malabrigo MADNESS

    Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 1.51.42 PMI’ll keep this quick so that you can skip immediately to the awesome Malabrigo pattern links (below the photos), but I’m just going to say that Malabrigo RASTA always blows my mind with it’s intense, colourful beauty.

    Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 1.52.19 PM

    What to knit with it? Here are three STASH Ravelry faves, AND a free pattern from STASH, called Chunky Rib Toque!

  • Ovate, by Tori Gurbisz – a paid pattern, great into to chunky lace knitting, uses one or two skeins, depending on which of 2 shawl options you choose.
  • Drop Stitch Cowl by Abi Gregorio – a free pattern (and STASH fave). One skein will get you a cowl if you modify the pattern to be shorter, or two skeins will get you a generous show stopper of a finished piece!
  • Rainbow Twist by Thao Nguyen – A bulky cable cowl that let you wear your RASTA like an object d’art. It is also free and uses only one skein.
  • Want more ideas? Follow this link to Ravelry and scroll through the plethora of project ideas that have been done with RASTA. Don’t forget to breathe.

    Robo-hack Attack!

    Ohmigod I missed the STASH blog! If you liked to peek at this page but it disappeared it was because we were robo-hacked by evil, purse-selling, converse shoe-lovin’, gambling addicts who inserted malicious code into everything. It was awful.

    But three weeks and a lot of house cleaning later I think we may have nipped the problem in the bud, so to speak. Knock on wood. Cross yer’ fingers. Pray to the blogging gods…

    So feel free to check back and read some new posts or, alternately, see if we have yet again been taken over by the borg!