KW Swatch Experiment

KW Swatch Experiment Data: Cumbria Fingering

It’s time for our next data post in the #kwswatchexperiment: Cumbria Fingering!

For the Cumbria Fingering swatch, we asked knitters to cast on 27 stitches using US 5 (3.75 mm) needles and work in stockinette stitch with a 2 stitch garter edge on either side. The needle size was pulled from Bristol Ivy’s design, Lita, published in her collection with us from January.

NOTE: 
For every yarn, measurements were taken pre-and post blocking. Please see previous posts for my measuring and blocking process for these swatches.

CUMBRIA FINGERING STITCH GAUGES

CUMBRIA FINGERING ROW GAUGES

OBSERVATIONS

LOOSEST VS. TIGHTEST UNBLOCKED
• Swatch 3 had the loosest gauge at 23 sts and 29.33 rows / 4″.
• Swatch 4 had the tightest gauge at 21.33 sts and 26.66 rows / 4″.

LOOSEST VS. TIGHTEST BLOCKED
• The stitch gauge of Swatch 3 became even looser after blocking with a gauge of 22 sts and 29.33 rows / 4”.
• The gauge of Swatch 4 continued to be the tightest post blocking at a gauge of  25 sts and 33 rows / 4”.

MOST DRAMATIC CHANGE BETWEEN BLOCKED AND UNBLOCKED
Stitch Gauge: 
•  Swatch 1 had the greatest change in stitch gauge: unblocked, the gauge was 25.33 sts / 4”, but after blocking it loosened up to 24.
Row Gauge:
• Swatch 1 also had the greatest change in row gauge: unblocked, the gauge was 30 rows / 4”, but after blocking it tightened up ½ row per inch to 32 rows / 4”.

SPECIAL COMPONENT
We had a knitter who took her experiment one step further, and knit one of her swatches on metal needles and a second swatch on bamboo needles, identified above as Swatch 1 (metal) and Swatch 2 (bamboo). As you can see, the same knitter on the same size needle produced different gauges depending on the material worked, and the gauges changed differently post blocking as well.

SWATCH 1
• Pre blocking: 25.33 sts + 30 rows = 4”
• Post blocking: 24 sts + 32 rows = 4”

SWATCH 2
• Pre blocking: 24 sts + 29.33 rows = 4”
• Post blocking: 24 sts + 30 rows = 4”

GAUGE MATCHING POST BLOCKING
• Swatch 5 and 7 matched stitch gauge post blocking, but the row gauge of Swatch 5 was off by 1 row / 4” (31 as compared to 30), and Swatch 7 was off by 2 rows / 4” (32 as compared to 30).
• Swatch 1 matched Row gauge post blocking, but the stitch gauge was off by 2.33 stitches /4” (25.33 as compared to 23).

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

As mentioned, the needle size given in the swatch instructions was pulled from Bristol Ivy’s design, Lita, published in her collection with us from January.

LITA SPECIFICATIONS
GAUGE: 23 sts and 30 rows = 4” (10 cm) in St st on larger needles, after blocking. / NEEDLE: US 5 (3.75 mm) circular.

Lita features a really unique top down construction: the lace epaulets are worked separately and stitches are picked up to work the front down to the armhole. Once the front yoke is complete, stitches are picked up on the opposite side to work the back down to the armhole and the body is then joined for working in the round and continued to the hem. Part of the sizing in Lita is created by the width of the epaulets (E) determined by the number of rows worked in the Epaulet Chart. The stitches picked up across each epaulet and then cast on for the neck is what determines the total circumference of the sweater (A).

I’m seriously hoping those of who who have followed along with the data postings so far have been able to really see the benefit of swatching in order to obtain correct gauge and some of the pitfalls that may occur if you choose not to swatch, so I am going to continue with my slight divergence of the data presentation in the Practical Application. This week, I’m going to focus on one of the unique features of Lita and how knowing post-blocking stitch and gauge plays an important role in the successful outcome of the design.

Since two of the swatches this week obtained stitch gauge, but not row gauge (Swatches 5 and 7), I used those two gauges as an example as how things might pan out if the row gauge is not taken into account.

ROW GAUGE FOR EPAULETS

In the graphic below, I broke down the pattern instructions, Swatch 5, and Swatch 7 by size. For the pattern column, I identified the number of Rows worked in the epaulet, the length of the epaulet as dictated by the number of rows worked, and how many stitches are to be picked up for the front portion. In each Swatch column, I identified the actual length of the epaulet based on the Swatch row gauge, and how many rows should be worked in order to obtain the required length.

As you can see, even with such a small difference in Row gauge, both Swatches need more rows in the Epaulet chart in order to achieve the required length. This number would only be compounded further if the row gauge was off by even more than 1 or 2 rows / 4″.

An additional item of note is the number of stitches to pick up as dictated by the pattern, and the number of rows needed. Regardless of wether or not you are working from the pattern or your swatch, you will want to pick up stitches evenly along the epaulet. I discuss how to do this in one of our Tips and Tricks, Perfectly Picked Up Stitches.

ROW GAUGE FOR BODY LENGTH

Another additional item to consider is row gauge when working the body. Lita is shaped by decreases spaced evenly down the body of the sweater designed to cover the middle 12.75” of the length. You then work straight to 14.5” prior to beginning the 1.5” of ribbing.

Based on the row gauge as given in the pattern, it takes 108 rows to achieve the 14.5” as needed. For Swatch 5, it would take 112 rows, and Swatch 7 requires 116 rows. Spread out over such a long distance, this discrepancy isn’t too great that I would go to the trouble of recalculating the decrease shaping, but if you matched stitch gauge, but your row gauge was different by a row or more per inch – 34 rows / 4” instead of 30” – or less than that given – 28 rows / 4” for example – you might want to evaluate the spacing of the decreases to see if they will work out for your gauge so you do not have unevenly placed shaping along the length of the garment.

Stay tuned next week for the next Data post featuring Cumbria Worsted. Thanks again to those of you who have left feedback and questions so far, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have in the comments!

2 thoughts on “KW Swatch Experiment Data: Cumbria Fingering

  1. Mary McDaniel says:

    I have another question!

    I just finished five gauge swatches for a cardigan I’d like to work on this winter. I had to knit so many because of different stitch patterns (cables, etc.) and the pattern listed gauges for all of these stitch patterns. So in my effort to do diligence I have knit up all sorts of swatches (and am probably going to have to knit more because sadly I did not hit gauge on my first try). My concern at this point is that I may run out of yardage for my cardigan. Can one reuse the yarn from the swatches even though they’ve been blocked? I’m reading conflicting things on the interwebs and I can argue both directions in my head (the sweater will also be blocked after all). Is it a terrible idea to reuse blocked yarn from a swatch into the project? And what about reusing tarn from swatches to make more swatches? If I soak/lanolin bath the yarn to get the kinks out does that mean I have carte blanche to do with it however I please in the future?
    I don’t want to have to buy more yarn partially out of a dye lot standpoint and partially because the yarn I’m using comes in 500 yards skeins.
    Thanks for your knitting wisdom!
    Mary

    1. Hi Mary,
      Unfortunately, I can’t specifically speak to your specific project without knowing the pattern/yarn you are using. Generally speaking, though, if a pattern lists multiple gauges, I recommend swatching with the stitch pattern most used in the design until you match the listed gauge. Then you can use the needle size that works for the other stitch patterns that are listed. It will use up way less yarn, as you are not knitting all of the swatches with each needle size.

      I have never reused a swatch for the project, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be done. Depending on the fiber blend, you may have to wind the used yarn into a hank and wash it to get the kinks out (as you would a handspun to "finish" the yarn), but it shouldn’t really effect your gauge too much.
      – Kate

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