When designing the sweaters for the Summer Sweaters Collection, we used the two yarns in the Fibre Company lineup that have a nice, crisp hand, Meadow and Savannah. Although different fiber contents and gauges, the yarns work well together, and as you will see, they can even be substituted for one another!
All spring I was looking forward to this KAL, although I wasn’t sure which sweater I was going to knit. I really liked my design, but had already knit it once, so, truth be told, although I wanted one for myself, I wasn’t relishing the idea of knitting the same thing again. I started to think of ways I could modify the design – adding waist shaping, changing up the neckline, or short rows to make them hem like Kate’s Roma. But, all these ideas felt daunting. They required effort, work, calculation, and possibly ripping and re knitting. But this was SUMMER KNITTING! This was supposed to be a deep pleasure, simple, relaxing and no-fuss. I don’t remember how it came about, but I think Meghan had something to do with it. Perhaps inspired by her Hidalgo, or at her suggestion, I thought why not just knit it as written, but use Meadow and make the next biggest size than I usually would, so it has a more Hidalgo-like fit! That would only require swatching, and I did have time to do that.
Personally, I find swatching to be a pleasure. It’s meditative, simple, incredibly portable, and you get a sneak peek of what your coming weeks of knitting will feel like. I pulled out my Savannah swatch to use as a guide.
Then, I got out my Meadow. I started on the suggested needle size, knit a swatch in pattern, and then (crucial step) I wet blocked my swatch. The fabric was surprisingly nice, not too drape-y, loose, or wonky…but the gauge was too loose. I went down to a US 5 and swatched again. The fabric was a bit denser, and really nice…but in my haste I swatched THE WRONG STITCH PATTERN. Yep. A pattern I designed, wrote, and knit once already. I did it wrong. I knit the swatch in a 4×4 rib, not a 4×4 garterrib. Sigh. Back to swatching, this time on a US 4, and I had gauge! The fabric looked great, and the row gauge and stitch gauge were right on. The fabric was still lovely and drapey, and had more structure than the previous swatches.
Meadow is incredibly versatile, looking good at a range of gauges. I am racing to finish, with many knitting deadlines looming on the horizon for fall!
The moral of the story is simple. Substituting yarns can be easy, but you must swatch. If you’re changing yarn types, gauges, fiber content, anything, the outcome is unpredictable–unless you swatch.