This is why you block your swatch!

GreenMonsterLast year I cast on for a lovely sweater pattern named Cassis by Thea Colman.  A swatch was knitted first to make sure that gauge was obtained.  Everything was perfect.  Many weeks were spent working on this project and it actually fit fresh off the needles!

But then it was soaked and blocked.  That’s when the problems began.  It grew and grew and grew.  Over 10 inches in width!

Turns out that you should always block your swatch.  And, it also turns out that I had a knitting problem- too loose knitting leaves sagging ladders.  When the knitting hits the water, the weight of it all pulls on the sagging ladders and that extra yarn is seen in the extra width of the knitting.

GreenMonster2Thankfully, I have someone in mind to receive the sweater at Christmas.  Since it grew width-wise and not length-wise, it’s still within the proportions of a normal human body.  🙂 

I’ve started putting a piece of medical tape over my index finger so I can tighten up my tension without the yarn digging into my finger and burning it.  It’s made a huge difference in the fabric I produce.  My sensitive index finger must be the reason I’ve kept my tension so lax in the past.  At least the problem has been identified and remedied after all these years. 

 

20 thoughts on “This is why you block your swatch!

    • Even on a smaller needle, my knitting grows when it’s blocked. I’m convinced it’s the loose tension and sagging ladders. My latest swatch was produced with tighter tension and it didn’t grow when it hit the water like all my other stuff.

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    • 🙂 Thanks! I loved the yarn and pattern. It was such a disappointment when it grew. But, this should fit my mom (who doesn’t read my blog so it’ll still be surprise) and she’ll be thrilled to get it. She’s a quilter so she really appreciates handmade things. She even wears a very homely chunky handknit sweater I gave her years ago. lol.

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  1. I was just going to say what Cheryl said. Superwash wool tends to stretch out a lot when wet. Not all superwash wool does this (Dale Falk, for example), but a lot of it does. It can be very frustrating. I tend to avoid superwash wool unless it’s sock yarn or something knitted for a baby.

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    • This wasn’t superwash wool. But, I have noticed that superwash is worse. For the longest time I’ve noticed that my garments grow during blocking… I am hoping that it’s the tension and that I’ve fixed the problem.

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  2. It’s still a lovely cardigan. The other stretch potential comes from knitting seamless garments. The seams help to stabilise. You can cheat and crochet a ‘seam’ up the insides and across the shoulders.

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  3. Oh dear, that’s no fun! But I’m glad you brought this up ‘cos I *ahem ahem* don’t block my swatch either. I should start being good now and not skip this important step. I wonder though…should one actually wash and block a swatch a few times just to make sure it doesn’t grow and grow like what happened with your sweater?

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    • That’s a good question! I skipped the blocking step because I didn’t want to wait a day or two to let the swatch dry before I could get my measurements to start knitting. Washing it several times sounds like a loooong wait!

      I’ve heard that the best time to make a swatch is when you are still working on another project to help keep yourself from being so impatient and skipping the blocking step because you’ve still got something on your needles. Maybe with my next project I’ll give that a try… 🙂

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      • Haa and that’s why I skip the blocking step…I’m impatient when it comes to starting new projects. Thanks for sharing the idea with blocking while there’s another project on the go…I think I’m going to do that too 🙂

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  4. This is good advice as I’m starting my first ever adult garment. I’m a tight knitter though, and I did notice recently when knitting with a pink yarn that I had a pink line on my index finger where I pull the yarn over my skin. Oops.

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