This week shook me up, friends — I’m having a whole lot of trouble wrapping my brain around what’s happening in this country right now. Under other circumstances, today I’d have a nice juicy pile of links for you, but my focus has been, uh, elsewhere. That said, though, I do have one bit of brilliance for you to explore. My friends over at Kelbourne Woolens have been doing something fascinating: The Great Swatch Experiment. It all started with a tweet, which led to a crazy idea:
What if we did an experiment? We could write up a quick “pattern” for a 4″ square stockinette stitch swatch, with a nice little garter border. Tell people what needle size to use, of course, but not tell them the gauge. We could send a skein of each of our yarns out to volunteer knitters to knit the swatches and mail them back to us. (They would keep the rest of the skein, of course). If we had three or four different swatches from three or four different knitters, all using the needle size we recommended, how different would the swatches be?
Which led to a whole lot of swatches (75 of them!) and a whoooole lot of number-crunching. Each yarn’s swatch instructions were based on a specific pattern — so the swatch dimensions could then be compared to the garment dimensions — and the results are dramatic. Take the Canopy Worsted example — and remember each knitter just cast on the designated number of stitches using the suggested needle size. If the knitter of the loosest swatch had cast on with the suggested needle and knitted and blocked the sweater, it would be 3.5″ too large. If the knitter of the tightest swatch did that, hers would be 8.5″ too small! Eight. And a half. Inches. But in addition to a lot of jaw-dropping case studies, the whole thing has afforded a chance to talk about all sorts of knitting and swatching issues and concerns. You can (and should!) check out the whole series on their blog. (Scroll to the bottom for the start.)
I hope we can all find some peace and understanding in the coming days. Please be kind to yourself and your neighbors this weekend and always—
Photos by Linette Kilenski/Kelbourne Woolens, used with permission