It has been since I last bought yarn!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Swatch Watch

I got a message on Ravelry the other day from frequent blog reader MarDe1234 (Ravelry link) wondering just how I was able to adapt my blankets from dishcloths or change the suggested yarn weights in blankets and still come up with a good size. And so, inspired, I decided to let you glimpse into my muddled 'ole brain and see my process to making the blankets and projects you see on this blog.

The answers are all in the swatch. I know what a lot of you are thinking right now. "Oh boo.... a lecture on swatches...." and I know. I get you. It's a tedious task. Often we are INSPIRED! RIGHT! NOW! and don't want to take the time to plan the swatch. But people- swatching has saved me enormous heartache. While a swatch is simple... the process is not always that.


Firstly- I find it hilarious that although my swatch will turn into nothing useful once I have extracted measurements from it that I still keep most of them. Behold- the Ziploc bag of swatches!? (Do you think Ziploc has any idea just how much they mean to the knitting community!? I keep everything in Ziploc bags!!)


This here is a whole lotta swatches. I'm showing you this so you don't think that I'm just blowing smoke on this whole "you gotta swatch" thing. I swatch. A lot. (And apparently I don't throw the swatches out.) But I like to get a good idea about what things are going to look like. I break the swatching process down into 3 categories.


1) The "Traditional Swatch"
These are the swatches that you typically knit in stocking stitch that usually turn into 4" squares. These are necessary to make sure that you're knitting at the same tension with your yarn and needles that the designer intended. Often times you can predict how your project is going to turn out based on your gauge swatch. Sometimes the designer even asks you to swatch something other than stocking stitch but the traditional swatch is your lifeline to make sure your garmet is going to fit.


2) The "Play Swatch"
These are the swatches that I knit, still in small format, when I want to play around with a particular stitch pattern or am trying to get an idea about what I want to knit. I also use it to knit swatches of upcoming projects so that I can get an idea of how large a pattern repeat will be with similar yarn in order for me to cast on a project. This way I can get an idea of size based on an entirely different yarn than the pattern calls for. (Which I do a lot- I rarely use the recommended yarn size!)


3) The "Big Swatch"
I usually reserve the bigger swatch for when I'm attempting a project out of dishcloth or something that requires me to get an idea of how big a particular section is going to knit up, in order to get a really good idea of how many repeats I need, how much yarn I'll need or any other detail. The bigger swatches really help me get a good idea of what I'm about to dive into and if the yarn I've chosen is conducive to that. Yeah- it's tedious to knit a big swatch sometimes, but in the long run it's usually the most effective way to get a clear picture if the dishcloth thing is going to work. (In the case of that boat swatch I decided I hated the yarn I had chosen for the pattern (it was a different color than the yellow) and opted to skip it.)

You'll notice on those swatches that I don't always do a full border... sometimes swatches don't need a full border, sometimes I'll do one sided borders only so that I get an idea how some of the border measures but I'm able to calculate from there. (No need to do unnecessary knitting!)

So that's my "swatch process"- and proof that I do tend to knit swatches! (Some people preach the importance of swatching but don't actually do it themselves. I've learned the hard way that the swatch is a critical piece of knitting!)

I'll be honest- talking about swatches was a great topic for today because it can detract from the fact that progress on my other projects is slow.

In fact, besides 2 hats


(hello September and October hat!) most of the other things that I'm knitting still look relatively the same from last time. Oh, there's progress, just nothing I can really tangibly show you. So instead.... I'm boring you with swatches!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Plugging Away

It's been awhile since the last blog post but I'm happy to say that's because I have been busy. (I have been REALLY busy.) (Haha I accidentally typed "busty"... and well, I suppose that too right now.) The one hour commitment to the various projects have seen slow but steady progress.

Pink baby dots is already 15" in length!


The Teddy Bear blanket is also seeing an end to it's first section.


Even the Nebula socks have seen progress!


I wish I could brag about the progress I've made on the blocking of the blankets- but I can't really speak to that. BUT, the good news is that the blocking board is in my house and the guilt about just finishing these projects is becoming overwhelming! (haha)

So that's where we're at this week! Things are happening but just at a slow (but steady) pace. I'd really like to get the pink dots and the sock done by the end of this month so we'll hope that the productivity plan stays on track!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blocking Block

Who wants to volunteer to come over to my house and kick me squarely in the a$$? It seems like that's the only thing that will motivate me to block the two otherwise completed baby blankets that are just waiting for their moment alone with the blocking pins. (Which I still have not located.)


MiL did generously offer to block the Welsh blanket for me- but I said no. Because GOSH DARN IT, being a knitter means finishing stuff to completion and that means blocking. But GAH I just can't motivate myself to it! This is probably because I've already moved on to a whole new set of fun projects!

Blocking inhibitor #1: Baby Dots


I am still so thoroughly, and completely and absolutely charmed by this project that I just want to knit it ALL. THE. TIME. It's simple to do and each repeat comes out more charming than the last. Someone has to have a baby girl because this has to be wrapped up in adorable little one STAT.

Blocking inhibitor #2: Teddy Bear Blanket

Did I show you when the swatch I knit last week looked all wonky?


Well I was finally able to at least block the swatch- and thankfully I did because size changed a lot after the initial soak.


So, a few short measurements later and hopefully a clear idea of where I want this project to end up- I was able to cast it on and have another "to go" project to haul around with me.

Blocking inhibitor #3: Nebula Brain Bender Socks


We went to Toronto last weekend for a wedding and I decided to only take this project, therefore FORCING me to actually work on the sock and give it some love. Numerous false starts later, (all knitter error, not designer) I was able to get going and well, this is going to be an impressive little number.

(I also managed to squeeze in a visit to the charming and famous (the Harlot's LYS) Lettuce Knit while in Toronto. While I behaved myself and didn't buy anything, it was nice to put a store picture to the name, since it is mentioned so often on Stephanie's blog.)

I can see it now- you're rolling your eyes... thinking "here we go again- Jen has over cast on and now she'll finish nothing." But I'm telling you, this time I'm ready. I have a PLAN. In order to ensure that each project gets to see some progress- I have instituted the 1 hour rule. The 1 hour rule allows me 1 hour to dedicate to a project. When that hour is up- I have to move on to something else... and so on. Once all three projects have seen a minimum of one hour each, I can go back to whatever I'm charmed by in that moment and give it more knitting attention. But this way each project is going to see some action. (Rule does not apply when I am away from my house knitting- I will take whatever is most portable in that moment with me.)

Tomorrow is my last Friday afternoon off this summer. (A nice little employer perk to the summer months.) I am planning an afternoon of utter irresponsibility. I'm not doing laundry, or housework, or anything that would distract me- tomorrow afternoon is all about me, an audio book and the knitting. It'll be good to see what I can come up with some dedicated knitting time.

Who knows- maybe I'll even BLOCK THE BLANKETS!?!?!? (*laughs meniacally because I know I won't.)