You see what I mean?!? That’s how much knitted fabric I was able to squeeze out of a single skein of Princess! A 7″ x 4″ swatch, plus one sleeve nearly up to the sleeve cap. For the mathematically inclined, a little more than 170 square inches.

I feel reassured that I’ll have enough yarn for big lapels and a bit of ease in the bust. I want my Alpaca Twill to be a cardigan I wear on chilly autumn days, on top of long-sleeved tees or thin cotton sweaters.

At this point I’m going to block the partial sleeve.


This is not my typical modus operandi. I usually finish knitting all the pieces, then block, then seam. Furthermore, when was the last time you saw me knit a sleeve before the sweater’s body?

Simple. When I suspect my gauge swatch has something to hide, I treat the sleeve (or fraction thereof) as an uber-swatch. This is regularly done by a number of knitters I know. And even though I believe the order of knitting and assembly is a matter of personal preference, blocking halfway can be beneficial in many cases.

For Classic Elite Princess and the stitch pattern of Alpaca Twill, I found the fabric changed significantly after a bath. It fluffed up and flattened, and expanded a bit. But I was barely able to assign those changes concrete numbers – it’s tricky to measure gauge in a highly textured fabric, plus it’s very pliable and can be easily stretched vertically and/or horizontally.

I’m going to get a much better idea of these changes from an uber-swatch – 14″ x 13″ at its widest. Time to lather up!


23 thoughts on “Uber-swatch

  1. Elspeth

    It’ll be very interesting to see if such a heavily patterned sweater changes in guage the more you wear it; do you think the the weight of the fabric is going to pull, since the pattern is so easily streched?

  2. Silvia

    I’m very excited to see your sweater- should be gorgeous. Knitters Mag might get a second look by a bunch of your readers. What are you going to do for the closure- is there one inside? Do you plan to use ties, or will you put in a button (I tend to abuse ties for whatever reason)? Looking forward to your progress

  3. Sarah

    Using a sleeve or other piece as a swatch is a great idea! I hate swatching because I want to just get started on making the real thing. I’ll be putting this uberswatching plan to use immediately.

  4. Ann

    That looks absolutely heavenly. Echoing Silvia – are you a subscriber to Knitters? I’ve sort of eschewed it in the past because so many patterns seemed fussy and much older than my taste. But this sweater is right up my alley…

  5. Karen S

    Interesting approach… though I’ll store that bit of knitting advice carefully, I suspect it might come in handy.

    I can’t wait to se more, that colour is absolutely yummy!!!

  6. Rachel

    Another good thing about knitting a sleeve (or most of one) first is that you avoid the dreaded “second sleeve syndrome”. One sleeve (mostly?)done is a huge bonus!

    The yarn really bloomed and softened after washing. That should make a really nice comfy sweater!

  7. Elinor

    I swatch on sleeves too. Sometimes hoods. Besides, once you have the sleeves done, the boring knitting is over with! You never get stuck on sleeve island with a finished back and front but endless sleeve knitting!

  8. xtina

    I’m a new convert to sleeves first as of this moment. What a perfect idea! I’m also cracking up at Elinor’s “stuck on sleeve island” comment–hilarious.

  9. leo

    Wow – that stitch pattern is so interesting! Would you mind describing it a little bit? Is it easy to get into and memorize? Is it stretchy? Firm? It looks so cozy and squishy!

  10. Faith

    The color is fabulous! I look forward to your thoughts on wearing this yarn, as I am sensitive to angira as well.

    It’s always so much fun to watch your knitting process, especially with sweaters.

  11. Asa

    Thanks for the uber-swatch idea. Very meticulous. Me, I knit in oblivion until I run into yarn shortage, size, or other issues – and then… I curse.

  12. Christy

    There’s some Princess in the stash, so I’m taking notes.

    I also will be interested to see how your version of the sweater looks when finished. Magazine photos don’t always grab me, but other knitters FOs tend to make me reconsider.

  13. Pam

    Your yarn is a very pretty color and the fabric has a nice texture.Have you ever used the “hung gauge”method where you hang your swatch and then measure? According to Lily Chin,That might give you a better measurement.

  14. Heide

    Because I detest sleeve knitting I almost always do them first… followed by the back and finally, the front or dessert portion of the knitting. I love this color!

  15. jeanie

    beautiful sweater and i love the stitch pattern. i also have an OT question for you… i love your picovoli tee. do you think artyarns regal silk (worsted wieght) would work well? i have 4 hanks and plan on using a differnt silk along the bottoms and edges… just wanted your expert opinion. thanks!

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