KW Swatch Experiment

KW Swatch Experiment Data: Terra

We’re almost in the home stretch – today is the second to last post in the #kwswatchexperiment: Terra!

For the Terra swatch, we asked knitters to cast on 21 stitches using US 8 (5 mm) needles and work in stockinette stitch with a 2 stitch garter edge on either side. The needle size given in the swatch instructions was pulled from my design, Fable, a classic set-in sleeve shawl collar cardigan published in the Boathouse Collection.

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




Interestingly, for each, there were two gauges that were loosest and tightest, and they both matched one another exactly.
• Swatches 1 and 4 had the loosest gauge at 16 sts and 24 rows / 4″.
• Swatches 2 and 7 had the tightest gauge at 18.66 sts and 26 rows / 4″.

• Swatch 4 continued to have the loosest stitch gauge at 16 and 22.5 sts / 4”. Swatch 1, previously also the loosest, blocked differently to a gauge of 17 sts and 23 rows / 4”.
• Swatch 6 blocked out to have the tightest gauge at 19 sts and 25.5 rows / 4″.

Stitch Gauge: 
•  Swatches 1 and 6 had the greatest changes in stitch gauge: both gauges tightened up a full stitch over 4” from 16 and 18 to 17 and 19 sts / 4” respectively.
Row Gauge:
• Swatches 1 and 3 had the greatest changes in row gauge: both gauges loosened up a full stitch over 4” from 24 and 25 to 23 and 24 rows / 4” respectively.

It has been a while since anomalies in the swatches came up, but this Terra grouping had a few slight anomalies, with Swatch 1 having the most noticeable – there is rowing out both pre-and post blocking. And, from the statistics above, it is pretty clear that the rowing out had an affect on overall gauge, and how the fabric behaves: Swatch 1 made it into the loosest gauge unblocked, and most dramatic change post blocking categories. While rowing out is mostly a visual anomaly, it is also clear that it affects the overall fabric quality and structure as well!


As mentioned, the needle size given in the swatch instructions was pulled from my design, Fable, a cardigan published in the Boathouse Collection.

GAUGE: 17 sts and 25 rows = 4” (10 cm) in St st on larger needles, after blocking. / NEEDLE: US 8 (5 mm).

Of all the yarns, the Terra swatchers appear to be the closest overall in terms of stitch gauge matching. 
• Swatches 1, 3, and 5 matched stitch gauge post blocking all measuring at 17 sts / 4″. Of the swatches that did not match, 2, 4, 6, and 7, most were only off by 1 stitch, with only one off by 2 stitches.
• None of the swatches matched row gauge post blocking, though.

Fable is a classic cardigan in many ways – not only is the design itself, a stockinette stitch sweater with minimal shaping, deep 2 x 2 ribbing, set-in sleeves and a shawl collar – quite classic, but the construction is as well. The two fronts, the back, and sleeves are all worked flat from the bottom up. Both the length and armhole depth on the body pieces are written to be worked to a specific length and the sleeve length is written to a specific number of inches after shaping is complete, and then the sleeve cap is worked. Due to the nature of the garment, there are many ways to customize the sweater to your specific liking once you have made the effort to obtain gauge.


Adding stitch patterning or grading between sizes (as one would do when sewing garments) are two easy ways to add modifications.

One of the easiest ways to modify a cardigan is to replace the existing stitch pattern with an alternate one. This could be as simple as switching out the stockinette stitch for reverse stockinette, or as complex as replacing it with an intricate cable pattern. In order to do so with as little headache as possible, it is best to pick a pattern that matches stitch gauge exactly, and row gauge as closely as possible.

Just as I have mentioned in previous posts, if you cannot match row gauge exactly – or even if you do – it is important to use your blocked row gauge to determine final finished lengths as specified in the pattern.This holds true if you are knitting it as written in stockinette or if you are replacing it with an alternate pattern. 

All of our garment sizing and grading is based off of the industry standard and follows the basic “rules” for shape. We, as humans, though, don’t always fit into the 6-8 prescribed boxes that most of our garment sizing comes in. This isn’t he end of the world though, as it is easy to make simple customizations to best fit your body.

Modifying for Length
The simplest way to alter a design if using the given stitch pattern is to add more length. From the schematic above, for measurement B (body length), you can see Fable is designed to be a little bit longer than the “average” sweater. If you would like the body shorter than the given measurements, simple: knit fewer inches. The same goes for longer: just knit more. The same applies to G (sleeve length).

Modifying for Circumference
Adding or removing length to a piece of knitting is simple, but adding or removing width is a little more complicated. For Fable, I recommend picking a body size that fits best with your bust measurement and then changing certain aspects based off of those numbers. Below are a few examples of modifications to be made and how to implement them:

Larger Hip Circumference: Cast on the number of stitches as given in the pattern for the hip size you want, and then decrease one stitch on each end of the back and one stitch at the sides of the fronts over the body length down to the number of stitches in your selected bust measurement. The resultant garment will have more of an A-Line shape. 

Adding Waist Shaping: Cast on the number of stitches as given in the pattern for the hip size you want, then decrease one stitch on each end of the back and one stitch at the sides of the fronts to your waist point, and then increase back to the given stitch count for the bust size you want.

Switching Sleeve Sizes: You may find you would like a sleeve with a larger or smaller upper arm circumference into the body. Knit the sleeves as usual for your preferred size, then when working the body, modify the armhole depth to match the sleeve size you worked. For example, if you knit the 3rd size for the sleeve, but the 2nd size for the body, you will want to work the 3rd size measurements for the body armhole depth. 

What other modifications have you made to patterns to best suit your body? Did you work a proper blocked gauge swatch, or wing it and hope for the best?

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