The pattern specifications call for a DK weight yarn knit at a gauge of 20 stitches and 26 rows / 4 inches in stockinette stitch US 7 needles. In preparation for the KAL, Courtney and I set out to do what I love most – swatching! – in order to find the perfect yarn/needle combination.
From the start, Courtney was pretty set on using Andorra for her sweater. Andorra’s blend of wool and mohair makes for a light, airy fabric when knit slightly loosely. (For reference, Andorra’s recommended gauge is 22-24 sts per 4” on US 2-4 needles.)
Prior to blocking, Courtney’s swatch knit on a US 6 measured 22 stitches and 28 rows / 4”. After blocking, the swatch measured 20 stitches and 30 rows – perfect stitch gauge but the row gauge is too dense (too many rows per inch).
What does this mean for her knitting? Since the sweater is worked from the top down, Courtney will need to pay attention to the required yoke depth for her size and make sure she has worked enough rows/rounds as not to create a too-short/tight yoke. As both the stitch and row gauge changes after blocking, the only way to truly achieve the correct length is to block her garment in progress, or calculate the required number of rows she has to knit. Otherwise, things should be pretty straightforward!
Unlike Courtney, I was totally perplexed as to which yarn I should use! We have so many lovely DK/sport weight options, and I really wanted to use a yarn that I haven’t spent as much time with.
My first swatch was Navia Uno paired with Navia Alpakka knit on US 5 needles. Prior to blocking, my gauge was 21 stitches and 31 rows / 4”. After blocking, my gauge was 19.25 stitches and 28 rows. Not quite to gauge, the fabric was a little too dense for my liking, so I knew going down a needle size to obtain 20 stitches would make for a fabric I wasn’t happy with. I absolutely love the combination, though, and want to explore it at even looser gauges at a further date.
Next up was BC Garn Loch Lomond. This woolen spun 100% wool tweed has a lovely hand and texture, and I have wanted to make a sweater out of it for a few years now. Sticking with my US 5 needles, my unblocked gauge was 20 stitches and 29 rows to 4″, and after blocking, 19 stitches and 26 rows. Again a gorgeous fabric, and again a little too loose after blocking. Definitely a contender, but I had one more yarn to try before messing around with smaller needles.
The final yarn I wanted to try was BC Garn Semilla Melange. A woolen spun 100% wool heather, Semilla Melange is a pretty classic “Kate” yarn – it is all wool, has a little bit of a tooth, is light, soft, and comes in a gorgeous array of colors. Before blocking, my gauge on US 5 was 21 stitches and 30 rows / 4″, and after blocking, 20 stitches and 28 rows. Huzzah! Since I obtained gauge with the Semilla Melange and loved the fabric, I didn’t bother going back to the Loch Lomond. As with the Alpakka and Uno, I’ll save the swatch for future use!
I swatched with the light grey since had an open skein in the office, but my plan is to knit my sweater with the moss, a very moody dark olive green heather. As with Courtney’s swatch, my row gauge is slightly too dense, but this is very easy to deal with during the knitting process.
And that’s it! Now we’re ready to cast on! We’ll be on IG tonight, September 30th, at 7 pm Eastern with yarn and needles at the ready. See you there!