Monday, November 3, 2014

NaKniSweMo 2014: An exercise in preparation

If you know me you know I knit on the fly. I get the inspiration, find the yarn and pattern and jump in head first. If it's a sweater I start at the sleeve and count that as my swatch on the go. But for National Knit a Sweater in a Month I wanted to join my friend Julie (of Happy-Go-Lucky, also known as juriface on instagram) in a new annual knit along event at our local yarn shop String Theory in Glen Ellyn. The requirements are that you get your yarn from String Theory, your sweater follow all the NaKniSweMo rules and that you can swatch but not cast on until November 1st.
Julie helped me to pick out yarn for a pattern I've been wanting to knit up for quite a while, North Shore by Tin Can Knits. After some debating and pulling from the great yarns at String Theory we decided on Shepherd's Wool Worsted, both because Julie highly recommended the yarn and because I love the colors. This means that I am knitting a DK weight sweater using a worsted weight yarn. Definitely a time for some serious swatching!
North Shore, a colorwork pullover by the amazing duo at Tin Can Knits
Shepherd's Wool  by Stonehedge Fiber Mill, I'm so in love with those blues!
This past week I finally sat down and decided it was time...TO SWATCH! But how does one swatch for something knit in the round? If you start by knitting the sleeve arguably you have a good swatch. But the rules stated I could not start before November first. Time to sort out how. Julie suggested Ysolda Teague's blog post on swift swatching in the round. GENIOUS! To sum it up if you knit a small swatch in the round it's very difficult to measure because it is in essence a small tube. BUT if you knit it flat yet only knit the front, never flipping your work and carrying your yarn behind you achieve a flat swatch in which you never purl, thus obtain the gauge you will have when knitting in the round.


It's like MAGIC! A messy, weird looking magic!
The pattern called for a US 6 for the body of the sweater and 4 for the ribbing. Since I am using a bulkier yarn I took a stab in the dark and cast on my first swatch with a US 4. SUCCESS! It makes for a dense fabric but it still has drape and in my opinion it makes a lovely knit fabric. I felt like I won the knitting lottery with that much luck! 

Cast on party! (photo from String Theory's Facebook page)
Saturday was the NaKniSweMo launch party at String Theory. It as a fun way to get started on the project and meet some new people, because although I've been in to buy yarn I've never hung out and knit in the shop. It was fun to compare and see what everyone is knitting and the yarns everyone chose. I'm really excited to see how everyone's sweaters emerge!
I decided to follow the pattern and cast on with a sleeve, partially because I thought it would be easier to cast on 48 stitches than 216 when I'm socializing and meeting new people. I left that morning with a cuff, went home and kept working on it, starting the increases. I haven't been my usual fast and furious self but I've still managed to get 6,402 stitches done as of the time I decided to take a break to photograph and write up this post! The increases are done so it's just smooth sailing until I put the sleeve on holders and start the next (or perhaps I'll start on the body, you never know!)

My progress as of...NOW!
I also took the time last week to sew up a special project bag just for the occasion, something I've done for some of my major projects of late and have really enjoyed doing. I'm debating embroidering NaKniSweMo 2014 onto it, but more on my sweater project bag next time!

The necessary tools, not shown? A calculator to keep track of my stitch count!
Signing off for now,
Michelle, the Freckled Crafter