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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Knitting. What! There's Math? AKA. Swatching Sucks

Being thoroughly sick of making hats and scarves for gifts, I have decided to make a sweater for myself.   So...I'm sitting on the couch, swatching. Grumbling and cursing.  The Dumbplumber (my everlovin' sweetie of a husband) who rarely pays attention....I swear I could dye my hair green...but ....I digress......

He asks:  "What are you making"
"A swatch", I say or more correctly, bitch.

The knitters will understand and feel my pain.   Swatching is the bane of a knitter's existence and requires math.  (dun dun dun duuuunnn  scary music sound)   For those non-knitting people let me explain.   Swatching is when you knit a bunch of samples to find out if your knitting gauge and number of stitches will make your project be the right size.   Attempting to explain to The Dumbplumber, (ladies...don't attempt  this at home. Especially if you have both had a drink or two.)

Me explaining:  "You have a pattern like THIS one   ...that I plan to make.

There is a suggestion on the yarn, size of needles and the number of stitches per inch and the number of rows per inch.  If you can knit this are in like Flynn (whatever that means).  If not. Then your sweater will fit Godzilla or your sweater will fit a midget, but certainly not YOU.

For example
1. The pattern calls for 20 stitches to equal 4 inches on size 7 needles
2. The pattern calls for 60 stitches for a particular piece: say a part of the front.  Then the piece should equal  60/20 = 3 units   So...then 3 units should be 3 x 4" =  a 12  inch piece

All well and good, until you substitute another yarn and when you take into consideration that each person has a different style and tension in knitting.   Also if you use a different yarn, it may not knit up the same.

For example:  If my gauge works out to  16 stitches = 4 inches then the piece will be much larger.  

60 stitches/16 stitches =  3.75 units    3.75 x 4 =  15 inch piece.  

THREE inches too big on just one piece!!   Multiply this effect over all of the other parts of the sweater and you have a gigantically larger than you want sweater.

Go the other way and assume you have MORE stitches per inch and then your sweater  will be tiny.  All that time you spent knitting will have been wasted.

The only way to know your gauge  is to make a swatch, which is to knit, in the pattern, a 4 x4 inch (at least) section.  Boooorrrring.  But what is worse is to not make a swatches and make a sweater that no one born on this Earth can wear.  If you don't swatch you will be wasting hours upon hours of time. Even though this is boring beyond belief, it's better than not doing it.   And so on."  

Until the Dumbplumber's eyes begin to roll backwards in his head.

Dumbplumber having listened to all of this above reasoning (or rather bitching)

Asks: " So what do you do with this stuff you are knitting now?"
"I tear it up and roll it back into a ball", I say.

Staring at me in disbelief......"You are f***ing nuts.", says he.

I can't disagree.


  1. I agree. I hate swatching.

  2. well, there's f**king nuts with the patience not only to knit but swatch and explain the ordeal, and f**king nuts without those abilities, so I'd say you're ahead. The pattern is lovely, I hope it goes well for you!