The Amazing Adventures of Tom and Bel

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Streamlined: Swatch Watch

When last we met our intrepid heroine, she -- er, I --was swatching for a new design.

Since I want a very basic top, stockinette is my chosen fabric. I swatched with the ball band-recommended needle size and with a size larger. Both swatches were treated the way I plan to treat the finished sweater: a gentle wash in a mixture of lukewarm water and Eucalan.
Then I laid them out to dry.

(Aside: my stash of this wonder elixir is in the old pink and white bottles. Is it wrong that I want to use it up so that I can switch to the sexy new containers?)

Results: An amazing difference in the fabric. While Swatch A (suggested needle size) produced a sturdy, solid fabric that took two days to fully dry, Swatch B (slightly loosened gauge, 1/2 mm larger) dried a whole day sooner and made a draped, flowing fabric. My design is closer-fitting, and this much more relaxed fabric will work with that. I decided to go with Swatch B.

I took the gauge in the regular way:

And also did a 'hung gauge':

This is a technique recommended by Lily C in both her books and articles and June Hemmons Hiatt. Basically, you place a weight on your swatch to simulate the effect of gravity. Since there was a significant difference, I went with the hung gauge.

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