Monday, August 12, 2013

Swatching for Boxy.

Have you swatched for Boxy? How'd it go?

I ended up knitting two swatches. I started on US 4's and thought it was too tight, so I ripped and started again on US 5's. Once I'd blocked that swatch, I thought it was too loose, so I went back to the 4's. I felt a little bit like Goldilocks :-)

By the way, here's a little trick I use to keep track of the needle size. I put eyelets and purl bumps in the lower right corner (knit an eyelet as a yarn over followed by a knit two together).

Once both swatches dried, I hung them overnight (this is what I referred to in my last post as "weighting").

And today, I took my final measurements.

Yep, the US 4 wins.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Planning for Boxy

Yes, it's finally time. Our Boxy KAL officially casts on next Friday, August 16. This KAL is not only our first sweater, but also our most epic project to date, requiring about 1,600 to 2,000 yards of yarn. Right, that's a LOT of knitting!

Because this is a sweater - even a loose-fitting one - gauge and size matter. This week, we're going to knit gauge swatches and make sure we're planning the right size.
yarn wound and ready to swatch (I'm using Meadow in the Pokeweed colorway)
Swatching
Joji has provided instructions for both a seamed and seamless version. Before you knit your swatch, you need to decide which version you'll follow...because you need to swatch the way you'll actually knit the garment.

Undecided? Here are a few points to consider:

The seamed version is a front and a back knit flat, back and forth, knitting the stitches on the right side and purling the stitches on the wrong side. The front and back are seamed at the sides with mattress stitch. Because these two pieces are worked the same direction (from the bottom edge up to the shoulders) for the same length, it's the easiest kind of mattress stitch. This would be a great "first seaming project" (promise!)

I'm going to knit the seamed version (I know, you're shocked aren't you?!) for two reasons: 
first, knitting and purling. The seamless version starts with 16 to 18 inches of stockinette in the round...just knitting (yep, poke me in the eye with a needle!); and
second, straight needles. I love them! For sure the stitches are going to be crammed on tight, but that doesn't bother me!

If you're planning to knit the seamed version, you should knit your swatch flat. Cast on 30-40 stitches and work 4-5 inches of stockinette (knitting the right side rows and purling the wrong side rows).

As I mentioned, the seamless version starts with a big tube...several hundred stitches of stockinette knit in the round. And that means just knitting. No purling. Many of us knit and purl at slightly different gauges. So if you're just knitting, your work might be smaller or bigger than if you're knitting and purling. Boxy is a loose-fitting rectangle, designed with about 25 to 30 inches of ease. It's big enough, then, and you don't need to make it bigger by knitting at the wrong gauge! 

If you're going to make the seamless version, you should swatch "in the round". I promise it's easy (after all, it's just knitting and no purling!) and it's a helpful technique to know (think hats and socks and other seamless sweaters). If it's new to you, here's a great video (you only need to watch the first few minutes to learn the technique). You should cast on more stitches, say 40-50? and you'll still want to work 4-5 inches of stockinette; knitting all the rows.

In summary - for Boxy, I don't think there's a technical reason* to choose one version over the other. You should choose the version that makes you a happy knitter. We've got a lot of stitches and a lot of yarn ahead of us; let's make it fun! 

And finally - I strongly recommend you wet block your swatch and weight it once it's dry to see how your finished piece might grow. If you want to learn more about gauge and swatching, check out this article; it's excellent!

Sizing
Joji states (on page 2 of the pattern) "The biggest difference among the different sizes is the sleeve circumference [at the elbow]." Measure your elbow. That's right, put the measuring tape right around and see how many inches it is. Find the size whose Sleeve Circumference at elbow most closely matches (I'd go up if you're between sizes). Then make sure you're OK with the resulting Body Circumference. I think this probably only matters if your elbow measures between 10-1/2 and 11". The 10-1/2" sleeve is a 68" body circumference and the 11" sleeve is a 76" body circumference. Choose the better body circumference; you can always adjust the sleeve size if you need to.

*While I don't think there's a technical reason for Boxy, but there might be a technical reason for another project. We're knitting at a fairly loose gauge. The resulting fabric is going to be really drapey, which means the piece will have a tendency to lose its shape as you wear it. Side seams would help it keep its shape. If the sweater were designed with a lot less ease, meaning it really needed to "fit", I'd suggest the seamed version. But a big boxy rectangle? if it loses its shape, who cares?!

Friday, August 2, 2013

An Eye Candy Tour.

Yes, consider yourself warned. This post is full of pretty photos guaranteed to tempt and hopefully to inspire. But no worries, I promise this is a calorie-free treat!

First, on the wall behind the yellow table, our just-arrived shipment of Treenway Silks Kiku, a silk laceweight in a generous 100 gram/1,100 yard put-up. We have two color collections of seven colors each, plus two neutrals. The great thing about the color collections is mixing and matching for multi-color projects like Color Affection . The 100 gram skein has enough yards to be a Main, Contrast 1 and Contrast 2 color.  All you need to do is find two friends to join you; everyone chooses a different color and you'll end up with three different shawls. Of course the company and encouragement of friends will be helpful for the knitting, too; the laceweight version of the pattern is a lot of stitches!
collection one is on the left and collection two is on the right
these are the two neutrals; that cream would make a lovely wedding shawl or even a veil
Next on our tour is the back wall, now stocked with Shibui, Swan's Island and Manos. We've added new yarns across all three brands and have lots of different weights and fiber combinations.

And now the side wall behind the sales counter. No longer the "Cascade Wall", it's now full of Malabrigo! I am so happy we have a place to show these yarns hanging.

Because really, you need to see them displayed like this to really see them!

And yes, we have a full shipment of Rasta ready to be knit into cowls for holiday gifts.

The final stop on the tour is the area formerly known as the Library. There are a few patterns left, but mostly it's now full of Habu and Shibui fingering, with sample knits to show off the different fibers. 

Funny, as I look over this post, I realize I should've also thought to take a photo of the interior... no worries, it's still chock full of yarn, too!

Hope everyone gets to visit us soon so you can see it all in person. Happy Knitting!