Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Golden Swatch

This post sort of compliments the one entitled "The Gauge Swatch" which was released on December 6th. I couldn't decide which way I wanted to present the information. The previous post gives a good description, this one tells a story about Swatches.

There once was a knitter who saw the most beautiful sweater in a magazine. It had cables in all the right places and the elegant way it hung on the model would be perfect for her son’s wedding. She only had a year until the wedding so she decided to get started soon. She went to her yarn shop and found a very soft Alpaca yarn, in a beautiful golden hank. This yarn wasn’t the exact yarn the pattern called for, but she fell in love with the Alpaca and knew it would be unbelievably gorgeous with the dress she planned on wearing to the wedding. She picked up the yarn (the amount called for and an extra skein, just in case) and told the sales lady all about her son’s wedding and how she wished she could see into the future. She wanted to know that the yarn would really be as perfect for the sweater as the picture she had in her mind. She wanted to make sure that when she washed it, the yarn would still have the same shine. She wanted to make sure that the pattern would look as glorious in the cables as the yarn used in the magazine’s version. That’s when the sales lady said “Why don’t you do a Gauge Swatch?” The knitter looked at her like she was speaking another language, being the kind of knitter who always knitted blankets and scarves and asked “What’s a Gauge Swatch?” The sales lady explained that a gauge swatch is a small representation of the knitted project. A swatch is usually knitted in the same pattern as the majority of the project. The Sales Lady then explained that the swatch is sort of like a crystal ball to see the future of your project. A swatch should answer most of your questions about what the finished project will look like and what it will do when it gets washed and blocked (stretched into shape).

The knitter bought the yarn and went home to make a Swatch. Her first attempt was definitely much bigger than the Gauge called for in the pattern, and she knew that washing it wasn’t going to make it any smaller. Then she switched to a smaller needle and the next swatch was just about perfect. She washed it and blocked it just as she had planned on washing and blocking the actual sweater. The swatch looked a little different, but it was even more beautiful. She measured the washed, blocked and dried swatch again and it was just the right size. Very excitedly, she started knitting her sweater. In just a few days she had made great progress on the back. She knitted every free minute that she could and in a few months, she had a sweater. She tried it on for her son and he was very impressed with her work. He was so impressed that he wanted her to make a white one for his fiancĂ©’s going away outfit.

The knitter went to her favorite yarn shop and bought a beautiful silk and wool blend yarn. She knew that her future daughter in law would love the decadence of the silk. Ignoring the need for a Gauge Swatch, the knitter went home and started on the sweater. As she was working on the back of the sweater, she realized that something was not right. She knew that there was no way the huge sweater back would ever fit her petite future daughter in law. At this point, she realized that the yarn was a little thicker than the Alpaca she had used for her sweater and knitting a gauge swatch would’ve been a very good idea. She couldn’t bring herself to rip out the knitted sweater back, so she picked up another ball of yarn and some smaller needles and started on her gauge swatch. After she was finished, she took great care to wash the yarn exactly as the directions on the ball band told her. She was a little flabbergasted when she realized that the yarn seemed to have grown. It was bigger now and she knew she would have to go down at least another needle size. She went down two needle sizes, hoping that would give her the right gauge. She carefully repeated the knitting, washing, blocking and drying of the yarn. This time when she measured the swatch, it was a prefect four inches, just like the pattern had called for. Ecstatic, she started on her future daughter in law’s sweater. This sweater went much quicker, she could tell she was becoming a better and much more efficient knitter. This sweater was finished in a couple of months. She washed and blocked and let the sweater dry. Then it was time for the moment of truth. Would the sweater fit her son’s finance? She immediately called up her son and told him she wanted to take the happy couple out to lunch. They agreed to meet at their favorite restaurant for one pm. Then she carefully folded the sweater and placed it in a box. After lunch, the three of them went out to the knitter’s car, where she presented the beautiful bride to be with the sweater. It fit perfectly, and at that point, she realized why her son loved this girl. Her future daughter in law was actually giggling because she was so excited that someone would actually spend all that time to make her such an intricate sweater. She told the knitter how amazing this sweater is. How she wanted more than anything to learn to knit.

At the wedding, everyone knew how much the bride loved the sweater, so no one was exactly surprised when at the reception; the bride put the sweater on over her dress. With a big smile on her face, the bride gave the knitter a big hug and said that this was the best day of her life! When it came time for pictures, the photographer asked if the bride wanted to take the sweater off, so she could show off her lovely wedding dress, but the bride said “no, I want all of the pictures to have this sweater in them.”

After the knitter’s new Daughter-in-law and son left, she started getting compliments, on how beautiful both sweaters were and how talented of a knitter she is. That night she went home and started knitting a new sweater, a smaller version of her sweater, just in case the newlyweds were blessed with children.

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