Sunday, October 6, 2013

Swatchity-swatch-swatch

So I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of Amy Herzog’s CustomFit software. I figured I’d make a sweater for S1. The one I made her in 2009 isn’t working anymore. It just doesn’t fit. I washed it (so carefully! in cool water! no swishing! handle delicately and lay flat to dry!) but it seems to have shrunk.

I still have an astonishing 8 skeins of Berroco Peruvia, so I thought I’d try again. I made another swatch. This is a bulky yarn, so it is knit on a size 9 needle, which is much bigger than what I normally use. But isn’t it pretty?

red swatch Then I returned to all my old notes about that sweater. Back in 2009, my washed swatch had this gauge:

  • 14 stitches / 4”
  • 19 rows / 4”

I decided to measure the washed (and ill fitting) sweater now, in 2013. This is its gauge:

  • 14.5 st / 4”
  • 23 rows / 4”

So…the sweater shrunk in length. A LOT. You can kind of see it here. The sweater is in the back and it looks a bit fulled compared to the swatch on top:sweater swatchThis should not surprise me (but of course I feel betrayed). Berroco Peruvia is 100% highland wool, but more importantly, it is a “singles yarn.” It is not plied. It wants to felt. It felts with regular wear (see the photo on this post of felting under the arms) and apparently, it felts a lot when you wash it – even if you don’t agitate it. Doing all these measurements made me realize that it would not be wise to knit another sweater out of this yarn. It just isn’t right. (I’ll either sell it or donate it or maybe just felt a bunch of stuff with it.)

I made the red swatch on Saturday a week ago.

The next day, Sunday, I pulled out the only other yarn I have in sweater quantity: the Bartlettyarns Fisherman’s 2-ply wool I got at MDSW earlier this year:

bartlettyarnfix

I knit a swatch on a US 8 needle. It was a bit uncomfortable to knit, and the resulting swatch was still very rough to the hand after washing. That was Sunday.

On Monday, I knit another blue swatch on a US 9 needle. It was easier to knit, but still felt scratchy. I recalled that Julie always puts a bit of hair conditioner in the wash water when she wet finishes her weaving, in order to soften up the finished piece. I grabbed my conditioner from the bathroom and squirted a bit in the bowl with my swatch. Mmmm, strawberry.blue swatches Here are the two swatches (US8 on the left, US9 on the right, the color is a big dark). The larger one is a LOT softer thanks to the conditioner. I’m astonished at the difference. It’s still not next-to-skin soft, because there’s a bit of a prickle, but it’s a ton better.

Still. This is a pretty hefty yarn. It would be good for a coat or the kind of cardigan you wear as a jacket, but not for a wear-to-work sweater. I don’t know that a big bulky cardigan is really going to showcase what I expect CustomFit to be able to do.

That was Monday. On Tuesday, I just thought (and knit on other things). On Wednesday, my CustomFit account was ready – but I wasn’t. Wednesday evening, I started another swatch – this time using the grey French yarn I got recently. P1010756

I’m not sure I have enough for a sweater, even a plain stockinette number with short sleeves, or a vest. I have 801 meters of this yarn. It is lovely to work with, though, and I think it’s softer (especially if I do the conditioner trick).

Later today, I’m going to get S1 to help me with my CustomFit measurements and actually open up the software to play with it. Maybe the grey yarn will work and maybe it won’t (because of quantity). I’m not sure.

I MIGHT have to go yarn shopping…….

1 comment:

Steven said...

You're putting so much thought and planning into this. When I grow up, I hope I'm as conscientious a knitter as you. I'm really amazed at how much that sweater has shortened over time. Makes me wonder if that's happening with my sweaters. Maybe that's why I avoid washing them!