– Not to sound desperate but Please Read This: I need input! –
The panic monster in my head started screaming at me one dreary morning this week, it was a litany of “you swatched this, why can’t you do anything right?” and “do you even know how to knit”. Well Panic Monster, I did a little study and proved that you are seriously messing up my knitting.
The back story to this diatribe is that a few weeks ago I designed a pattern for a baby blanket. I swatched, double checked, changed sizes to accommodate my misbehaving hand and put it aside knowing it would be ready when I went to cast on. So on Monday I did just that, I proceeded to cast on a whopping 244 stitches and went full speed ahead fully intending on pumping out this blanket. To my horror, the blanket felt stiff and tight. No longer was this the soft, airy, loose baby blanket I had envisioned, honestly the silly thing felt more like a rug than a blanket. I doubled checked all my notes and my swatch, I was doing exactly what I had planned. No deviation from the original swatch. So what happened?
The psychology major in me (one of my many degrees screams my OCD, type-A rattled mind) decided that my hand was not to blame for this one, my brain was the culprit. When I originally did my swatch I was relaxed; the weather was beautiful so the windows were open, I was as well rested as I get and Max was curled in my lap mesmerized by the yarn moving inches from his face. All was good in my brain the day of the swatch. On Monday, the day after Mother’s Day, I still felt emotionally hung over from once again not being a Mom. I was tense, upset, hadn’t slept well and had consumed copious amounts of caffeine. You can guess what comes next.
My Panic Monster was messing with my knitting.
I frogged the blanket and did another swatch, appalled by the fact I needed needles two sizes bigger to achieve the same effect. For all you non-knitters out there, two sizes is a huge difference – just picture needing shoes two sizes bigger. Two sizes…what are you supposed to do with that? and how much of this has affected my other knitted items? I have never noticed a finish product looking awkward or clunky, so how do you proceed?
Well, there are sedative….Just kidding. Kind of. You’ll see.
I spent the week doing the same swatch while experiencing the following emotions: Exhaustion (up for more than 19 hours), Happiness, Calmness, Sedation (a happy little pill to calm the Panic Monster that I rarely use, but after Mother’s Day I was a mess for several days) and Extreme Anxiety. I would come back to my needles during these emotions, knit the original swatch and then proceed to correct it with the appropriate needles. The results were a tad jarring.
Swatch: 10rows by 10rows should be 4″ by 4″ on size 7 needles.
- Exhaustion: Swatch was 5″ by 5.4″. Desired swatch size had to be changed to size 6 needles with increase in tension.
- Happiness: Swatch was 4″ by 4″. No changes necessary. Also no surprise.
- Calmness: Swatch was 4″ by 4.6″. Only slight correction in tension needed.
- Sedation: Swatch was 6.2″ by 8.7! Changed to size 5 needles rendered a product of 5″ by 5.4″. Changed to size 4 needles 4.1″ by 4.2″. Once tension was correct the product was 4″ by 4″.
- Extreme Anxiety: Swatch was 2.8″ by 3.1″. Change to size 9 needles resulted in 3.9″ by 3.8″. Consideration with tension and yet another swatch led me to size 10 needles which was 4.1″ by 4.1″.
I am rarely sedated so I’ve dismiss this as a duh! moment, if you are fuzzy and loopy of course your knitting isn’t going to be tight. That’s why it’s not a good idea to knit while drunk, one of the many good ideas :). It was the Extreme Anxiety swatch that scares me; as I move my knitting to sweaters, shrugs and socks my anxiety could produce a product that is never going to fit right. How can you correct for the Panic Monster?
What I have noticed is that my knitting relaxes me. So I asked a nurse at work to watch my vitals during a panic attack; everyone I work with already knows about my Panic Monster and I have never felt ashamed of it. Thank God for nurses, oh hell, hospital staff in general. Nothing surprises them. Anyway, after about 20 minutes of straight knitting I am calmer, my heart rate slows and my blood pressure drops. So I have come to the conclusion that I need to be knitting something simple for about 20 minutes before moving on to the more complex, more complicated types of knitting to ensure that my gauge is correct. I am going to have to do the same thing before I swatch a pattern out so that I can avoid more frogging.
Yowzer. What a week.
So, friends and neighbors who manage to get through my ramblings I would like to ask a few questions. Have anything like this happened to you? Do you find that your swatches can vary from one day to the next? How do you work through the process of ensuring that what you are knitting will be the exact shape and size that it needs to be?