Welcome to Project Knitway or should I say Project Renottaway? It's my cyberspace place to post my favorite things...thoughts about family and creativity and design. One of my favorite things is making stuff, specifically clothing and accessories from fiber and metal. So you'll see a lot about that here. I also love spending time with my family, so there will be a bit about that too. When I'm not with my family or in my studio, I am most likely at nextdoor, my store. I have always had a store ever since I was a young woman. I started with a weaving store called the niddy noddy in Waukesha eons ago. I ended with nextdoor in Brookfield. It's my dream store filled with great clothing, especially denim. Really nice women work and shop there, it's a fun place to be. You can find us there every day and online at www.shopatnextdoor.com So come for a visit here and there.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Gauge Yourself

Every hand knitter has that ubiquitous sweater in the back of the closet or in the goodwill bag that took years to knit and ended up three sizes too big, all because she followed the pattern's gauge and not her own. Knitting a gauge swatch is essential to ending up happy with a good fitting garment. The common mistake most knitters make is to knit the swatch too small. It takes a sizable piece to accurately gauge stitches and rows per inch. That's another thing I love about knitting machines, you can knit a great big swatch in just minutes. After years of machine knitting I pretty much know what tension to knit a particular yarn at. For example most worsted weight yarns knit up nicely at tension 7 or 8 on a bulky machine. So I usually cast on 40 st and knit at least 60 rows. Lets just say your piece after steaming, comes out to be 11 inches wide 13 inches long. When you divide 40 st by 11 inches you come up with 3.6 stitches per inch. 60 rows divided by 13 inches gives you a row gauge of 4.6 rows per inch. Once you have your gauge, you can substitute it into the pattern and know that your garment will fit perfectly. We'll explore this more in another blog when we get into "designing your own" But first a word about steaming your swatch. That's essential to the process as a good steaming will "shrink" your fabric before construction rather than after the first washing. I use this steam iron by Rowenta. It's been a good, tough piece of equipment for years now. I won't tell you how many steam irons I've gone through, but this one is still steaming. As I mentioned earlier steaming works best on natural fiber yarns. I use it on some synthetics, but prefer the results I get with wools and cottons. Happily there has lately been a return to natural fibers in the fashion industry. Companies like Free People are introducing young people to these fibers and of course they all think it's something new and different. So to make a long story short: KNIT A LARGE SWATCH, STEAM THE SWATCH INTO SHAPE, MEASURE TO GET AN ACCURATE ROW AND STITCH GAUGE.

Happy swatching and stick to your knitting...R