Our Marsh + Mallow Knit-along kicks off next week! Are you ready to go on May 1?
If you have already gotten your yarn, the very first thing you’ll want to do is swatch with it. Swatching lets you know if you’re getting gauge and lets you get familiar with your yarn a little bit more. So what makes a good swatch?
1. Using the stitch stated in the pattern.
Is it written for stockinette stitch, reverse stockinette stitch, a lace pattern, a cable pattern, or some specific pattern? You want to make sure you swatch in that stitch. For Marsh, the gauge is given in stockinette stitch, so my swatch is in stockinette stitch. If you want to go a step further and swatch the lace pattern to give yourself a bit of practice with it, that’s not a bad idea!
2. Making a large-ish swatch.
This is the step that most people skimp on. A small swatch won’t give you all the information you need—your gauge is different between small areas of fabric and larger areas, due to the weight of the fabric, how you may hold your needles differently to accommodate more fabric, the speed at which you are knitting, and other factors. My personal rule is to cast on 50 stitches and work for at least 5″, to give me a good area from which to measure my gauge.
3. Measure your gauge with a hard-surface ruler.
Measuring tapes can be really cute and are great to throw in your project bag, but they can also stretch out over time. I like to use this quilter’s square to measure my gauge, as it’s a 4″ (10 cm) square and it’s see-through, so I can easily count my stitches. You can find them at craft stores that have quilter sections, but you can also just use any hard-surface (aka, something that won’t stretch out) ruler.
4. Prepare your pattern.
I like to mark up my patterns with the size that I’m making and make any notes directly on the pattern. So you can see here that I highlighted the numbers I need for my size, so I can easily find them. I also added a note to myself to work a bit more length. This way I won’t forget to do it, and I can immediately mark the same information in the back section and don’t have to remember when I’m in the middle of knitting my Marsh.
In this instance, with the large chart, I also printed it out on 11″ x 17″ paper to make it a bit larger. I’ll have another post a little bit later with tips on how to knit from this chart, but we do have a blog post that may help you get started.
If you’re planning to add length to the pattern, you will need at least one extra hank of yarn. I’m adding about 2–3″ of length to my Marsh, so I may need to go into a second extra ball of Berroco Corsica but I’m not entirely sure. I can figure it out mathematically, and we’re happy to help you figure it out, but the simple answer is to grab one or two extra balls of yarn (many yarn stores will accept returns of unused yarns, so be sure to ask before purchasing so you’re not stuck with too much extra yarn if you don’t want it).
All you’ll need to do to add length is work a little bit longer. If you’re knitting Marsh and starting with the front, knit it to the length that you want before marking for the armholes (for example, I will knit mine to be about 14″ before marking for the armholes) and then finish the front as written. On the back, I’ll add the three extra inches before I start working the lace pattern.
If you’re knitting Mallow and starting with the back, add the length before beginning the lace pattern, and then add the length to the front pieces before marking for the armholes.