Jane's Hooked on Crochet

A place to write about my crocheting, things I'm learning, book reviews, ideas, projects in mind, works in progress, patterns, photos, fair entries, whatever...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Here's a blog that I just discovered and Swatching

I enjoyed reading the latest blog entry by Copperscaledragon. I think she's on one of the same Ravely groups that I am, I'll have to double check.
Anyway, She wrote a great entry about taking the time to swatch. There has been a lot of discussion about swatching on the CrochetPartners group. Several people have said that they "don't have time to swatch". Well, personally I'd rather spend 15-20 minutes swatching than spend hours crocheting, hours frogging, and then hours redoing! It reminds me of a home ec teacher that I had back in the late 60's, early 70's when I was seriously into sewing and tailoring. She told us "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, you certainly don't have time to do it over!"

Swatching is so much more than just getting the gauge. When I first learned to crochet I didn't swatch either. But I was always running out of yarn before the project was finished, and I'd have to go buy more,...of course I had to start with searching out the same brand, color, try to match dye lot,... I learned that I'm a very loose crocheter, and to match most other people in gauge, I need to drop down one or two hook sizes. I was running out of yarn because I was using more in each and every stitch in the project!

In the various groups that I belong to, there is always someone looking for just one ball of some yarn. They started a project and ran out, the yarn has been discontinued, does anyone have any in their stash, they won't worry about dye lot, they'll pay for the yarn and shipping,... And it's not usually a simple everyday project, it was to be a baby shower gift & the baby's almost a year old or it was to be an anniversary present... Who needs that kind of fuss, worry, stress? Make a gauge swatch, and buy all the yarn you need before starting the project!

Along with getting the proper gauge so that you don't run out of yarn, it's important to make sure that the item, if clothing, is actually going to fit. Don't you hate to spend a month or so making a gorgeous top in your favorite color, and the softest yarn and then have to give it to your sister, mom, friend,...because it didn't fit. I have a friend who's laughing at this right now,...owner of my beautiful, green, short-sleeved top... I made a swatch, measured, washed and dried, calculated the percent of shrinking, and made adjustments to the pattern. Then crocheted this beautiful garment, only to find that the large, completed project didn't shrink at the same percentage as the small swatch. Next time, I'm making a larger swatch. The larger swatch is also important in garments made with natural fibers. Many of these fibers have a fabulous drape, but the weight of the fiber pulls on the garment, and it "grows' longer. Make a large swatch, measure it, pin it to your dress form or hang it on a hanger, and leave it for several days. Then measure it again. Did it grow? By how much? You'll need to take that into consideration when you decide how long to crochet the top, sweater or skirt.

The swatching process is also important for checking out the laundering effect on the fiber. Why spend weeks (or longer) making a beautiful garment, then find that the first time you wash it, it pills or fades or shrinks. Find that out before you spend all that time on the project. You may decide you can live with it, or you may decide that a different fiber will be better for your project.

The swatching is also a great time to check how your colors look together. Those two looked great together while in the skein, and in the artificial lighting of the store. Now that you've stitched them together and have the swatch in the sunlight...you wouldn't wear them in public! Better to find that out before you do all the work.

Remember -"If you don't have time to do it right the first time, you certainly don't have time to do it over!"


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