Friday, June 24, 2016

A Tale of Two Swatches

Truth be told, I almost never swatch for lace projects because:
A.  Gauge in lace is largely a matter of personal preference
B. I've done so much lace over the years that I have a relatively good idea of how it's going to turn out anyway.
C.  My lace swatches lie more than anything else.
D.  I'm a bit lazy, and just want to get into the project.  Seriously.

My one big exception is that I do swatch when getting ready to start a major Shetland Shawl.  After all, if I'm going to spend 300+ hours with a project, it'd darn well better be right from the first stitch and the minute differences in those wee needles actually can make a pretty big difference in both the finished size and the look of the lace.  Plus, the time spent on the swatches generally helps to acclimate my hands and my brain to the tiny yarn and needles. It's absolutely time well spent.

So I swatched for the Queen Susan.

For my first swatch I used my trusty HiyaHiya 2.0mm needles, which are much beloved by me because they are the needles I used for the Princess shawl.

Would you believe that crazy little swatch took two hours to knit?

Truth be told, I fell in love with that swatch from the start.  It was just sooo beautiful!  And so light and airy!  And so inspiring!  And so amazing!  (I could go on....). I carried it with me for a week, watching how it reacted to being handled.  I hung it on my inspiration board as a beautiful reminder of all that's good in my world.  I showed it to all of my friends and family.  No point in doing another swatch, it was perfect!


I couldn't get the niggling thought out of my head that the recommended size of needle for the Phoenix yarn was a 1.75 mm.

And it is silly to start such a momentous undertaking without at least checking that out.

So I pulled out my Addi Turbo 1.75 mm needles and tried again.

I fell in love with that swatch too....but I was already emotionally attached to the first.

Nevertheless, I meticulously measured both swatches and did the math to find figure out what the end results would be with both gauges.  To my great surprise, it wasn't much.  The swatches are visibly different, but the actual measurements are so minute that the finished centers would only be about an inch different in size.  Given how close that was, it all came down to personal preference.  Which one did I like best??

I hemmed and hawed for a long time.

In the end, I trusted my gut and went with the 2.0mm needle.  I wanted the finished shawl to be light and airy....a little bit less dense than the Princess Shawl is...a floating cloud.

So I cast on, and happily knit 10 rows...

...only to discover the truth I already knew.  My swatches lie, and the gauge I was actually getting while working on the actual piece was considerably looser than the gauge from the 2.0mm swatch.  I confirmed this with my BKB last weekend.  The fact was, at the new, looser gauge the lace was tipping over the edge to being too loosely goosey.

There was only one thing to do.

I ripped it out and started it over.

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