After some (a lot) of procrastinating, I’ve washed and blocked the swatches that were ready yesterday. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. I found out a huge number of little sins on them and am leaning towards knitting most, if not all of them one more time.
One of the most interesting findings was that my worse swatches are the ones with the simpler stitches. Some of the things I didn’t like I can explain, others I can’t (and so, I’m blaming the needle size). Last night I did two new gauge swatches using 4.5mm needles, which are soaking as I write. I’m hoping to get the proper gauge with those needles, as I like the fabric I get with them better.
I had a few d’oh moments while blocking, the first of which was when I realized that a gauge swatch has more than one use – as in: I know how many sts/rows I should get on an inch, so why am I not stretching the swatches to the expected measurement? I figured that my simpler swatches (ST and garter st) have the most flaws because I go into automatic mode and don’t pay them the proper attention. Speaking of the garter swatch, I might need to knit it by turning my work (sigh) as I got a somewhat irregular edge on the right side (can you say tension issues?). Another example of not paying enough attention? My YO swatch had the wrong number of YOs…
I’m torn between using a reverse long tail cast on or a normal cast on (normal for right handed people, not so much for me). The reason being, when I do the cast on using my right hand, I get an uneven cast on, with some bumps being longer than others. This issue can be somewhat fixed with proper blocking (which I also didn’t do), but my reverse cast on looks better.
The more I read the sanctioned group on Ravelry, the more confused I get about the expectations. At some point, we’re told we need to show we can follow directions (so doing a reverse cast on would be a no – no), then someone else will say we have to show skills adapting the way we knit to come to the exact same result as everyone else ( read: right handed continental knitters). How much of the first and the latter is acceptable is unclear to me, hence my doubt about which cast on to use. I’ll keep on trying to do it using my right hand, but if I’m not satisfied with the results, I’ll just switch to the reversed long tail one.
Now, from what I’ve seen of the approved swatches, the ones I have right now are ok. I’d probably pass level one with them, but (and a big one for me), these swatches are in no way, shape or form, my best work and this is why I’ll re-do them. It’s a matter of pride ;P.
Something else that I found quite interesting is that the increases and decreases I like best (because I thought they were the best option) aren’t as nice as the ones I wrote off as not so good. The swatches aren’t bad, all the increases and decreases are as they should be and the result is what is expected. The thing is, by knitting them using larger needles (and thicker yarn) I could see more clearly which ones work better (as in, how much they show). I’d heard of most, if not all, increases and decreases we have to do and have done all of them except for one decrease, and still I learned from the process.
On an ending note, I have to say I’ve lost a lot of steam on this project as I got side-tracked by discussions that didn’t apply to me and doubts and worries that were silly to say the least. Last night it finally hit me, I was too hung up on “but that’s not the way I knit” to realize that it isn’t about how I knit, but about my ability to do what I’m told. My standards are different from others and looking at the swatches I can say, for sure, they are below my standards.