KW Swatch Experiment Data: Canopy Fingering

It's time for our third data post in the #kwswatchexperiment: Canopy Fingering!

KW Swatch Experiment: Canopy Fingering

For the Canopy Fingering swatch, we asked knitters to cast on 28 stitches using US 4 (3.5 mm) needles and work in stockinette stitch for 66 rows with a 2 stitch garter edge on either side. The needle size was pulled from Norah Gaughan's design for The Fibre Co., Gotham

NOTE: 
For every yarn, measurements were taken pre-and post blocking. For the wet blocking process, I soaked the swatches in water and wool wash, and laid them flat to dry. I wanted the swatches to behave they way they wanted to behave without any manipulation, so I did not pin them or pay attention to the measurements when laying them flat. This way, the blocked swatches most accurately reflect the gauge the yarn was most comfortable at. This is how I treat all gauge swatches, but I do pin the actual finished pieces to the calculated measurements based off of the swatch gauge.

KW Swatch Experiment: Canopy Fingering
KW Swatch Experiment: Canopy Fingering

CANOPY FINGERING STITCH GAUGES

CANOPY FINGERING ROW GAUGES

OBSERVATIONS

STITCHES AND ROWS PRE- AND POST-BLOCKING
As you can see above, there was a nice variety between the six swatches we received from knitters. For this set of swatches, pretty much everything changed between pre- and post-blocking, and no one matched both the stitch and row gauge as given in the pattern except for Swatch 6, which only matched row gauge pre-blocking.

LOOSEST VS. TIGHTEST UNBLOCKED
• Swatch 3 had the loosest gauge at 23 sts and 29 rows / 4".
• Swatch 5 had the tightest gauge at 26 sts and 36 rows / 4".

LOOSEST VS. TIGHTEST BLOCKED
Interestingly, while Swatch 3 stayed the loosest swatch, after blocking two of the swatches matched their post-blocking gauge, while they differed in their pre-blocking gauge:
• The loosest gauge was Swatch 3 at 22 sts and 29 rows / 4".
• Swatches 2 and 5 had the tightest gauge at 25.33 sts and 35 rows / 4".

MOST DRAMATIC CHANGE BETWEEN BLOCKED AND UNBLOCKED
Stitch Gauge: 
• Swatch 4 had the greatest change in stitch gauge: unblocked, the gauge was 26 sts over 4", but after blocking it loosened up to 24.66. 
Row Gauge:
• While Swatches 1, 2, 5, and 6 all changed by 1 row pre- and post-blocking, percentage-wise, Swatch 1 changed the most.

ANOMALIES
There were a few notable anomalies in these swatches, but nothing like twisted stitches or rowing out as previously identified in the two previous posts on Acadia and Arranmore.

The most obvious is that Swatchers 1 and 4 did not work the full length as specified in the instructions. This is understandable, as 1/2 the number of rows makes a nice square, so they most likely misread the instructions, or convinced themselves 32 rows was plenty. While this didn’t change the results in any discernable way, the gauge on one of the long swatches, Swatch 6, changed over the course of the work, which I have yet to notice in other previous swatches: the first inch was 24 sts unblocked / 26 sts blocked, and the remainder of the swatch was 23 sts unblocked / 22 sts blocked. It would be interesting to find out a little more from this knitter about his/her technique and if they conscientiously loosened up or experienced similar changes on other knitting projects.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

As mentioned, the needle size given in the swatch instructions was pulled from Norah Gaughan's design for The Fibre Co., Gotham. This needle size is based on what the average knitter would need to use in order to achieve the recommended gauge given in the pattern. We compiled the same data as we did with the other swatches, and the results are below:

GOTHAM SPECIFICATIONS
GAUGE: 24 sts and 34 rows = 4” (10 cm) in St st, after blocking. / NEEDLE: US 4 (3.5 mm) circular.

One of the unique qualities of Gotham that makes analysis in a swatching/gauge post such as this particularly interesting is that the poncho is knit sideways from the center out in joined pieces. Contrary to "typical" garment constructions, this means stitch gauge actually affects length, and row gauge affects width. weight (almost 800 grams upon completion) surely adds pressure on the needles and knitting.

ROW GAUGE

Due to the horizontal construction of this design, the widths are determined by the number of rows worked. Part of the instructions ask you to work to a certain length to determine the shoulder width (A), and then the remainder of the instructions have you work a specific number of repeats of a stitch and decrease pattern to create the dramatic shoulder shaping (B). The 6.5” measurement (A) can be analyzed in the same manner we look at any other length in a garment – whether it be horizontal or vertical – and adjusted to the correct measurement by knowing your blocked row gauge and counting rows accordingly.

KW Swatch Experiment: Canopy Fingering

The width dictated by a specific number of rows (B) is where potential issues may arise in this pattern, as it is very difficult to adjust the number of rows worked when you’re following specific shaping instructions for such a large portion of the garment. I added an additional line to the graphic above to show the difference in overall width these knitters would experience if they did not take swatching or row gauge into account.

Since none of them achieved gauge, re-swatching is imperative, and in a perfect world both row and stitch gauge would match that as given in the pattern. But what should they do if they match stitch but not row gauge (universally understood to be a common occurrence), or row but not stitch gauge? If it was me - and this is not a directive, merely an example -  I would pay closer attention to row gauge, and if need be, adjust the cast on numbers slightly to alter length if my calculated C and D measurements seemed too far off.

STITCH GAUGE

As you can see from the graphic, both the arm/cuff opening and the full length of the poncho would vary from the intended measurements had all of the knitters not swatched ahead of time. The swatches with the greatest difference – 2, 5, and 6 – are all 2 inches shorter in overall length. All of the measurements shown would (hopefully) be changed and corrected after adjusting needle size and re-swatching, but the results again clearly demonstrate how important swatching (and blocking) is!

Since the stitch gauge affects the length (measurements C and D), had the knitters focused more on row gauge, as I mentioned above, the stitch counts could easily be customized by altering the number of cast on stitches (D) and the stitches that remain after all the shaping has been worked (C).

Stay tuned next Wednesday for the 3rd Data post. We really loved your questions and comments last week, so please continue to leave questions in the comments and we'll be happy to help you out!