Friday, July 10, 2015

Casting on for the Yarnbox Summer Sweater KAL/CAL!

I am primarily a sweater knitter, so any yarn we send out in a Yarnbox is carefully evaluated for its sweater potential. While not every yarn we send out is ready to be a sweater (some are just better for accessories), two that we've recently sent out have been on my mind for garments lately. I was inspired by these fibers and also the amount of backstock we had to launch the Yarnbox Summer Sweater KAL/CAL event, now running in our Ravelry group from June 25 - October 1. (Join us if you'd like.)

My choice for this event was inspired by a recent Ravelry blog feature chatting about combination projects. Boxy, one of my favorite sweater patterns from Joji Locatelli, is a great candidate for many yarns. I knit one a few years ago in some handspun yarn and have been thinking about making another, so when I saw Pooki's version on Ravelry that combined Boxy with the Cancun Boxy Lace Top pattern, I knew that's what I wanted to make with the Shibui Linen from our June Luxe shipment. I also wanted to swatch in Mrs. Crosby, which seemed like a wonderful alternative for cooler climates. With lots of shine and drape, it's certainly a good candidate (although I decided against it, since at the tight gauge of Boxy it was a bit too warm for Tennessee!) As you can see, that required a lot of different needle sizes to determine!

Swatching is perhaps the most important part of the planning of any gauge-dependent garment. I didn't just want to swatch for Boxy's pattern, but also see how all of the lace stitches from Cancun Top would translate into Linen. If your pattern has lots of textured stitches or stitches you're unfamiliar with, it's a good idea to try them all in your swatch - nobody ever made a rule that swatches always had to be 4" x 4" - you can certainly make them larger.

As you can see, my swatch got a little wonky. Part of the benefit of practicing the stitches is that you can make any translations from flat knitting to in the round if you're altering or modifying a pattern like this one. I found that I misjudged how many yarnover pairings there were and my swatch ducked in a bit. Good thing this happened on the swatch and not on the final sweater!

The last step in any good sweater swatching process is the washing and blocking. There were a lot of questions about how to wash and block linen this month, and lots of great answers shared. Linen is one of the world's most durable fibers, so your final piece can be washed in the washing machine and even dried in the dryer. In fact, we sort of recommend being a bit rough to your linen yarn for the first few washings to soften it up! For my swatch, I swirled and scrubbed it around in a pool of warm sink water for a bit, then hung it off the towel bar to dry, stretching it a bit to mimic the weight of a finished garment.

I'm happy with how the swatch turned out and I'm now ready to cast on! Are you joining us for the KAL/CAL event? What are you working on?

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