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Switching and Swatching

My hands really do appreciate going back and forth between large-needle projects and small-needle projects. When I stay too long with the small-needle ones, like socks, my wrists start to talk to me, particularly the right one. I suspect that keying numbers all day with my right hand may have a greater impact, but there’s no getting away from that. Switching projects, and doing some spinning for a break in between, seems to ease the problem.

I also think I intentionally work socks a bit tighter, using more force through my wrists. I’m trying for a denser fabric that will wear longer. When I go to Size 8’s, and I’m looking for a fabric with more drape, it’s an easier hand motion.

Maybe it’s an area where more knitters ought to place some attention and concern. We’ve all heard of the Repetitive Stress injuries, that start with pain and often end with surgery. I’m not medically qualified to diagnose actions or treatments, but common sense (and my wrist) is telling me that knitting is a repetitive motion. We know that’s the ticket to these problems, and I’ve been knitting since beach sand was still large boulders. Guess that my angry wrist condition should not be unexpected, and if they could talk, my wrists might be saying, “Get off your butt and take up Ballroom Dancing for a while, and give us a rest!”

There might be some truth there. At work, I am mostly sitting. At home, I’m frequently on the computer or knitting, also rather sedentary pursuits. Lately, I’ve come to need a larger rear-view mirror, if you get my drift – ever since I quit smoking. There may have to be a shake-up of the current routine, so that I can continue to knit and also fit into my comfy chair!


Anyway, while sitting on my broad butt, I grabbed a ball of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Forest Heather and started swatching. Swatching gets a bad rap; I’m trying to see it as educational, informative. A time-saver, rather than a time-waster. I would waste far more time and yarn and effort and money if I made a whole sweater that either fit Barbie or my upright freezer. I’m telling myself that it’s very relaxing. Much more relaxing than swearing at that little Barbie sweater, that’s for sure! And I’m talking myself into believing that I’m doing this to make sure my knit and purl stitches are very even – Mom taught me that you should not see any difference at all in the size of the stitches when you look at Stockinette worked flat, back and forth using rows of knit and purl. She was a stickler for that, and I sure did practice getting all the rows the same size.




Mom would be so proud!

This is just quick and dirty off the needle, an Addi circ, US Size 8, some Stockinette and Garter stitch. And I’d say those rows are pretty damn even. And blocking should make them better.

Notice the YO, K2tog eyelets? There are 8 of them. The swatch was done on Size 8 needles. (If I keep this swatch, and by tomorrow have forgotten which needle size I used, I’ll count the holes – another tip from Mom) Mom did not make individual swatches. She made a long scarf-like strand. If she started with a Size 7 swatch, then she did a few garter rows, switched to 8’s, made the 8 eyelets and worked for another 4 inches/10cm, and repeated it for 9’s if she thought it necessary.  She washed and blocked it out as the garment would be handled, and felt that this was a better way than making 3 individual swatches. Her reasoning was probably based on frugality.  Extra amounts of yarn were rarely purchased in her day, and I guess that more frequently, knitters faced the fear of running out. The swatch could be unraveled to finish a sleeve or stitch a garment together – there was less waste with one intact piece than 3 or 4 separate ones.

The eyelets make the swatch prettier, too, don’t you think? And if that little bit of fancy gets me to do it, my projects will fit better the first time.

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