There are a lot of things about stranded knitting that elicit thoughts of “you’ve got to be kidding”. The most astounding was the realization that after you knit a beautiful and complicated tube, you actually cut into it. This still gives me the willies just contemplating it, but I’ll push those thoughts aside as I figure out the basics for Sirdal.
Although the Knit a Norwegian KAL doesn’t start until Friday, I am doing all the prep work I can. I’m not sure I’ll cast on at the stroke of midnight, but it is likely that I will on the following morning. And so swatching is in order.
I have to make a confession about swatching. When I have knit in the round, I have not swatched in the round. I’ve mostly been a flat knitter and I somehow didn’t think that my gauge would vary that much from flat to circular knitting. I relied on the stretch of one-color socks and sweaters to help me fudge, and the ability to adjust as I knit on. But since stranding is so new for me and tweaking the pattern as I go would not be a good idea, I wanted to follow the “rules” and simulate the actual stranded work in the swatch. I cut the yarn on the left and began with new strands on the right. I don’t recall when I’ve felt this inept, with bits of yarn slipping and needles dropping. When I was done with the swatch, I had this shaggy mess with truly screwed up edges:
I’d read that unevenness of the two-color pattern blocks out, and I was really suspicious when I took the swatch off the needles that I’d have a shaggy blocked mess. But lo and behold, it is true. The blocked swatch isn’t bunchy. I’ve managed to learn to leave enough slack in my floats to avoid puckering.
Color dominance also seemed ridiculous on the surface. Why should it matter in which hand you hold the yarn colors? Well, here too, I’ve learned that the experts are not kidding. I started the swatch with the red yarn in my left hand and the natural in my right. I prefer this because Continental is much more natural for me than English, and I’d be knitting Continental style for more stitches. But just to test the theories of color dominance, I switched colors (red in right; natural in left) for the top row of snowflakes. I can see for myself that this produces a better fabric. The snowflakes do pop out, and as an added bonus I get much better row gauge. I suppose the other bonus will be that I’ll become a skillful English knitter by time I’m done with Sirdal. I still feel awkward as a thrower.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I actually do get gauge, which will make it much easier to follow the instructions. I now know what needles to use, and I’m figuring out which size to knit. It will probably be the “small” with the 44-inch chest because I’ll wear this as a jacket.
The one thing I’m not doing well is catching the few long floats in this pattern, and I need to practice that. I may put the swatch back on my needles and experiment further.
Why such a big swatch? I expect to use it as a trial piece, once the sweater is knit, for steeking. Seeing will have to be believing when I slash my knitting in half.