Sweater Season: Swatching for Sweaters

[Emily Greene's Fall Creek, from Spring 2020]

Okay, we admit it: we're both die-hard sweater knitters, and we think pretty much any time of the year is sweater season. But, both of us have a penchant for starting new projects in this after-holiday time, as a moment to reflect and start to focus on something a little longer-term after our frenzied needles knit gifts for friends and relatives. It's still deep enough in the winter that there's plenty of time to wear the FO, and we're able to imbue it with hopes, dreams, and plans for the year ahead. As we've been working on sweaters for our upcoming Deep Winter collection, we've been thinking about some of our favorite sweater knitting tips and tricks from now, well, a lot of years and a lot of sweaters. We'll be sharing them with you over the next few weeks, in the hopes that some of them may help your first sweater projects of 2021, whether they're your first sweaters or your hundredth. See the full series here. Looking for an H+W sweater to start your year off right? Find the full set here.

Swatching for Sweater Knitting

I know, I know: you heard the word "swatch," and you're groaning already. But, bear with me. As I have told all of my sweater-knitting students over the years, there are two kinds of successful sweater knitters: planners and froggers.

I personally hate frogging, and am willing to do quite a lot of planning to avoid it. So, that's my personal bias, and a lot of my sweater-knitting tips and tricks are really about improving this planning phase of the process so that the sweater we end up with at the end is as close as possible to the one we envisioned when we set out. And swatching — predictive, useful swatching — is a key part of that process.

So, how do we make a good swatch? We need to accurately simulate the knitting conditions that we're likely to face for this particular sweater. This means:

  • We need to cast on enough stitches to mimic the physical experience of knitting the large pieces involved in a sweater. This usually means somewhere between 36 and 46 stitches, for most people. Small-object knitting is just a physically different enterprise, and we need to experience the weight and tension of a bigger piece.
  • We need to knit enough vertical distance to see the stitch pattern emerge, and to get an accurate measurement. This is usually 5-6" of vertical distance.
  • We need to knit in approximately similar conditions to the conditions we'll knit the sweater in. Literally. The same needles, the same techniques, the same basic environment. I once knit half a sweater in a series of dark bars in Times Square during Vogue Knitting Live; the swatch I did in my brightly-lit office was not very predictive.
  • We need to block our swatches the way we block our sweaters. If you're using Forge or Weld, we recommend that this means a dip in a bath of lukewarm water and old-fashioned dish soap, followed by a gentle rinse. If you plan to pin your sweater out, pin your swatch to the same degree, and vice versa.

Ultimately, what you're looking for out of your swatch is a fabric that feels like what you want this sweater to feel like on your body. Assuming it has some structural integrity, the real question is whether it has the combination of drape and texture that you're hoping for, not whether you've perfectly matched the designer's (arbitrary!) gauge. A small amount of arithmetic (we'll talk about this next week) can usually get us out of minor mismatches; no amount of math can fix a sweater that doesn't drape properly because you've "matched gauge" but the fabric is way too stiff to wear. If you can think of swatching as an experiment, not a test, that usually helps: the goal here is to figure out how you're going to knit this sweater, not to evaluate whether you knit exactly like someone else did.

We've got a whole bunch of our favorite sweater-knitting insights to share over the next few weeks, but we'd love to hear yours! Drop us a line at info@hudsonandwestco.com or in the comments below with your favorite sweater-knitting tip.

59 comments

  • Posted on by Susan Bickford
    It’s A Great News to Celebrate with you Viewer, I am truly living the life I have been looking for after Dr Kachi made me win my Powerball Lottery, I had been playing for a good 8years. It was a friend of mine who directed me to Dr Kachi because my friend Nancy has won the Powerball so many times and I don’t know how she got the match six numbers to play and win a very big amount of money, then the last time she won the Mega Millions I told her to tell me the secret on how she win. That’s when she started telling me about the powerful Dr Kachi who has been her helper. and she gave me Dr Kachi Text WhatsApp Number:+1 (209) 893-8075 I texted the greatest spell caster Dr Kachi and I told him I wanted to win my Powerball with his spiritual rightful number and he told me I should give him 2hours to get everything done and hopefully Dr Kachi do it, and give me a winning numbers to play my ticket that make me win the prize of $223.3 Million Dollars Powerball lottery Tuesday i bought the winning ticket at the Carlie C’s IGA store in Hope Mills, that changed my life for good today, and Dr Kachi a strong spell caster and trust him when he says the results will manifest it’s Truth, God bless you Dr kachi for your kind help also can Email: drkachispellcast@gmail.com or website:  https://drkachispellcaster.wixsite.com/my-site
  • Posted on by Lyne Azabal
    I Need A Hacker To Recover My Lost Investment? Go To Lost Recovery Masters

    Hello guys, I’m Lyne Azabal from France. In my investment with Acstons-Cc, I also lost 17 lakhs. Trading using the Acstons. cc app generated a profit of 197,153 USD after paying tax and a 25% fee, however they would not release my profit and all of my Bitcoins were frozen. I called my pals, who suggested I try LOST RECOVERY MASTERS, and to my astonishment they were able to assist me get back 89% of my money. Despite the fact that I didn’t get all of it back, I’m still really appreciative of LOST RECOVERY MASTERS
    For advice on recovering cryptocurrencies, get in touch with Lost Recovery Masters You can also ask them questions about any firm you wish to deal with.
    Contact them:  Whatsapp (+44(7537)-105921) Email (Support@lostrecoverymasters.com) Learn More https://lostrecoverymasters.wixsite.com/recoverbitcoin2024

  • Posted on by Mary Robinson
    Good day to everyone reading my post, i’m here to appreciate a legitimate spell caster call Dr Kachi who can help you winning the lottery draw, i have never win a biggest amount in lottery unite the day i saw good reviews about DR Kachi how he has helped a lot of people in different ways both financially/martially and i have been playing Mega Million for 8years now, but things suddenly change the moment i contacted Dr Kachi and explained everything to me about the spell and I accepted. I followed his instructions and played the Mega Million with the numbers he gave me, now i am a proud lottery winner with the help of Dr Kachi spell, i win $640 Million Dollars in Mega Millions Ticket, i am making this known to everyone out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery jackpot, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery, this is the real secret we all have been searching for. I want to thank Dr Kachi for his endless help and his from the United States. you can contact via email drkachispellcast@gmail.com or through Text and WhatsApp Number: +1 (209) 893-8075 his website: https://drkachispellcaster.wixsite.com/my-site
  • Posted on by Pauline Brooks

    What is the best Crypto Recovery Company to Recover Lost or Stolen Crypto ? // Contact Captain WebGenesis.

    Hello everyone, I’m Pauline Brooks from Stuttgart, Germany. Losing one’s Digital Assets or Cryptocurrency to Scammers tends to be complicated and Frustrating too. I happened to fall victim After being swindled off €130,000 of Crypto by a fraudulent Company’s website that had guaranteed me to double my Investment in a week. When I finally came to realize I had lost my funds, I immediately took action as this was all my savings, that’s when I came across CAPTAIN WEBGENESIS, a legitimate Crypto Expert specializing in Cryptocurrency and Assets Recovery. I immediately contacted the Expert through
    email (Captainwebgenesis@hackermail.com). Even though the Expert was only able to retrieve 80% of my Crypto, I’m nevertheless happy because I didn’t think it would be possible.
    Web Add https://captainwebgenesis.com

  • Posted on by Pauline Brooks

    What is the best Crypto Recovery Company to Recover Lost or Stolen Crypto ? // Contact Captain WebGenesis.

    Hello everyone, I’m Pauline Brooks from Stuttgart, Germany. Losing one’s Digital Assets or Cryptocurrency to Scammers tends to be complicated and Frustrating too. I happened to fall victim After being swindled off €130,000 of Crypto by a fraudulent Company’s website that had guaranteed me to double my Investment in a week. When I finally came to realize I had lost my funds, I immediately took action as this was all my savings, that’s when I came across CAPTAIN WEBGENESIS, a legitimate Crypto Expert specializing in Cryptocurrency and Assets Recovery. I immediately contacted the Expert through
    email (Captainwebgenesis@hackermail.com). Even though the Expert was only able to retrieve 80% of my Crypto, I’m nevertheless happy because I didn’t think it would be possible.
    Web Add https://captainwebgenesis.com

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing
You have successfully subscribed!