The Happy Harvest Knit-along starts this Saturday, September 14, and while we anxiously wait for knitting kick-off, let’s talk about getting ready for the fun to start. One thing that I try to do every time I start a new pattern is to highlight the numbers I need to know for my size—that way I can quickly and easily figure out how many stitches I need to work without having to remember “wait, I’m knitting this size, it’s the fourth, fifth, whatever number in this series,” etc. But the thing that helps me prepare the most?
SWATCHING. Yep I said it. This oft-grumbled about part of knitting is always optional (no knitting referees will disqualify you from anything if you don’t swatch) but it’s incredibly crucial to ensuring successful knitting and crochet projects. This comes from a person who recently gambled with not swatching a crochet pattern and lost big time, so you can bet I’m going to be swatching for this knit-along. To help you successfully swatch, Elizabeth has some great tips!
Ok, I know its everyone’s least favorite part of starting a new project, but let’s talk about it – swatching! Yes, it’s an extra step and I know you would prefer to just get started knitting, but I promise – it’s so worth the extra time. And since Happy Harvest uses a chunky-weight yarn, swatching is super quick too.
Below are just a few little tips I have on swatching for Happy Harvest:
• I used a size 10.5/6.5 mm needle to achieve the pattern’s gauge, but since everyone’s tension can be a little different, you should consider this needle size just a starting-off point. This is especially true if you are substituting yarns!
• I recommend keeping 2 stitches at each edge of your swatch in Garter stitch (knit every row) – this will help your swatch lay flat when you’re measuring.
• Gauge is measured over Stockinette stitch (knit on right side rows, purl on wrong side rows), but you may want to work a little bit of the Acorn Lace stitch pattern in your swatch too just to familiarize yourself with it. If you choose to do this, just make sure to cast-on a multiple of 6+5, plus the 2 stitches at each edge (casting on 21 stitches would do it).
• Measure your pre-blocked gauge as well as post-blocked gauge. I have both listed in the pattern so you can see how my gauge grew after blocking. It also helps to tell you how close you are getting to gauge before you even attempt to block.
• If you have too few stitches, you’ll want to go down a needle size. If you have too many stitches, you’ll want to go up a needle size.
• Block your swatch! This is the only way you’ll know how the fiber will act after blocking. Once it’s dry, measure and make sure it matches the “After Blocking” gauge listed in the pattern.