KW Swatch Experiment

KW Swatch Experiment Data: Tundra

We made it! The final post in the #kwswatchexperiment: Tundra!

For the Tundra swatch, we asked knitters to cast on 18 stitches using US 10.5 (6.5 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 Packard, the basic “template” sweater in Maura Kirk’s sweater collection, Tundra: Elements.

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

TUNDRA STITCH GAUGES

TUNDRA ROW GAUGES

OBSERVATIONS

LOOSEST VS. TIGHTEST UNBLOCKED
• Swatch 4 had the loosest gauge at 12 sts and 17 rows / 4″.
• Swatch 6 had the tightest gauge at 14.66 sts and 20 rows / 4″.

LOOSEST VS. TIGHTEST BLOCKED
• Swatch 4 continued to have the loosest stitch gauge at 11 and 17 sts / 4”. While other swatches also loosened up – very common due to the fiber blend of alpaca, merino, and silk – Swatch 4 began and stayed the loosest.
• Swatch 6 continued to have the tightest gauge at 15 sts and 20 rows / 4″. As it was knit tighter, the less dramatic change in gauge is to be expected. 

MOST DRAMATIC CHANGE BETWEEN BLOCKED AND UNBLOCKED
Stitch Gauge: 
•  Swatches 4 and 5 had the greatest changes in stitch gauge: both gauges loosened up a full stitch over 4” from 12 and 14 to 11 and 13 sts / 4” respectively.
Row Gauge:
• Swatch 3 had the greatest change in row gauge: it loosened up by a full row from 18 to 17 rows / 4”.

ANOMALIES
Due to the large gauge of the Tundra – currently the bulkiest in The Fibre Co. lineup – the wide gauge range among the swatches was quite noticeable: the smallest gauge after blocking (Swatch 6) was 15 sts / 4”, while the largest (Swatch 4) was 11 sts / 4”. Their difference is not only easy to measure, the visual difference is quite clear as well!

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

As mentioned, the needle size given in the swatch instructions was pulled from from Packard, the basic “template” sweater in Maura Kirk’s sweater collection, Tundra: Elements.

PACKARD
SPECIFICATIONS
GAUGE:
 14 sts and 18 rows = 4” (10 cm) in St st on larger needles, after blocking. / NEEDLE: US 10.5 (6.5 mm).

GAUGE MATCHING POST BLOCKING
• Swatch 2 matched stitch gauge post blocking, measuring at 14 sts / 4″, but it was off row gauge by 2.5 rows / 4” at 20.5 rows / 4” instead of the specified 18. 
• Swatch 1 matched Row gauge post blocking, but the stitch gauge was off by 1.5 sts / 4”.

CONSTRUCTION
Packard is constructed in an incredibly simple way – the sleeves and body are worked in the round from the bottom up, then joined at the underarms to work the yoke. Shaped with “typical” every other round raglan decreasing to the neck, the shaping depends heavily on matching row gauge in order to obtain the yoke depth as detailed in the schematic. Using Swatch 4 as an example, I thought it would be helpful to demonstrate how row gauge affects the yoke dimensions, and how, with a few simple calculations and modifications, you can eliminate many of the issues raglans cause when row gauge is not matched.

DEALING WITH RAGLAN SHAPING WITH MISMATCHED ROW GAUGE
Tighter Row Gauge: The gauge for Swatch 4 is 14 sts and 20.5 rows / 4”, but, as mentioned previously, the row gauge in the pattern is 18 rows / 4”. This means the swatch knitter needs to work 20.5 rounds in order to work 4” of length, but the pattern expects the knitter only needs to knit 18 rounds.

Based off of the number of rounds worked in the raglan shaping, prior to working the 2” collar, the yoke depth as shown in the schematic at the given 18 rows / 4” is 6.75 (7.5, 8.5, 9, 9.75, 10.25, 11.5)”. At 20.5 rows / 4”, though, the depth for the Swatch 4 knitter would be 5.75 (6.5, 7.5, 7.75, 8.5, 9, 10.25)”,  1 (1, 1, 1.25, 1.25, 1.25, 1.25)” less than specified in the pattern. This would make a yoke that is too tight, causing puckering and ill fit at the armholes, as well as pulling at the neck. In order to work the yoke to the actual specified dimensions, the Swatch 4 knitter needs to work an additional 5 (5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6) rounds in order to obtain the correct depth. The best way to do this is to divide the additional rounds evenly over the course of the yoke. In order to reduce bulk at the armhole (another common issue of raglans), I recommend working the shaping as written for a few inches in order to cut out as much additional fabric there, then adding the additional rounds to the remaining yoke.

Example: The 2nd size calls for 34 rounds total of raglan shaping, with 17 rounds of decreases. In order to add an additional 5 rounds into the shaping, begin by working 14 rounds as written, completing 7 decreases. This leaves 20 rounds and 10 decreases remaining. Then, instead of working the remaining 20 rounds as written, add the 5 rounds evenly spaced throughout for a total of 25 rounds and 10 decreases as follows:

Rnd 1: Decrease
Rnd 2: Knit
Rnd 3: Decrease
Rnd 4: Knit
Rnd 5: Knit
Repeat Rnds 1-5 four times more.

This leaves you with the correct stitch count and depth, with shaping evenly spaced as not to cause any strange visual anomalies.

Looser Row Gauge: Throughout the project, I have used actual examples from the amazing set of swatches we received to demonstrate issues and possible fixes, but I think it is also important to consider a hypothetical situation here: If the row gauge for Swatch 4 was flipped to 2.5 rows fewer to 15.5 rows/ 4”, what would the schematic look like, and how could any issues be fixed?

Again, based off of the number of rounds worked in the raglan shaping, prior to working the 2” collar, the yoke depth as shown in the schematic at the given 18 rows / 4” is 6.75 (7.5, 8.5, 9, 9.75, 10.25, 11.5)”. At 15.5 rows / 4”, though, the depth for the Swatch 4 knitter would be 7.75 (8.75, 9.75, 10.25, 11.25, 11.75, 13.5)”, 1 (1.25, 1.25, 1.25, 1.5, 1.5, 2)” more than specified in the pattern. This would make a yoke that is much too deep, causing excess fabric and unflattering bulk at the armholes. In order to work the yoke to the actual specified dimensions, the Swatch 4 knitter needs to work 4 (5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 8) rounds fewer in order to obtain the correct depth. This means more decreases need to be worked in fewer rounds as opposed to fewer as detailed in the previous example. In order to do so, I recommend more decreases at the start of the raglan decreases (this also works to reduce armhole bulk), and then work the remaining rounds as written:

Example: The 2nd size calls for 34 rounds total of raglan shaping, with 17 rounds of decreases. In order to remove 5 rounds from the yoke, only 29 rounds and 17 decreases should be worked. The simplest way to do this is to work decreases every round for a bit, and then switch to every other round as follows:

Begin by working 5 rounds with decreases on every round. This leaves 24 rounds and 12 decreases to be worked. Then, work the remaining 24 rounds / 12 decreases as written. This leaves you with the required 29 rounds and 17 decreases, and proper yoke depth.

And that’s it! Thanks again to all of our amazing swatch knitters for providing the piles of amazing data for me to work from, and to all of you who have appreciated the project – and hopefully learned something from it.

I’m hoping to put together a round up of the “best of” for the Experiment sometime in January, bringing all of the data together into a tight cohesive package. In the mean time, I made a page for the series that you can find here.

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