Knitting swatches to determine needle size and to measure gauge

This week I’m knitting with Lion Brand Wool-Ease, which is a medium weight yarn that blends the warmth of wool with the ease of acrylic.

Today I’m knitting some swatches to measure my gauge and needle size that I’ll use on my projects for the balance of the week. As I mentioned yesterday, the recommended knitting needle size is a US 8 [5.0mm] = 18 sts x 24 rows = 4” [10cm] in stocking stitch. Based on the projects I have in mind for this week, I’ll be using 3 different needle sizes to determine the gauge for some of the pattern motifs.

Lion Brand Wool-Ease is available in 12 different colors . . . I’ll be using Oxford Grey for my swatches today.

For my first swatch, I cast on 26 sts, with a US 8 [5.0mm] needle, knit 4 garter stitch rows, then proceeded with a slipped stitch edge and 2 garter sts at each side, and stocking stitch for the main field. My results were 18 sts and 24 rows = 4” – Right on the recommended gauge. Now for the experiments.

1st Swatch with US 8 [5.0mm] needles measured in exactly at the recommended gauge.

For my second swatch, I wanted to play around with a rib stitch that combined one of the patterns from the Poncho. I used a US 7 [4.5mm] needle and cast on 26 sts, maintained the slipped stitch edge and 2 garter sts at each side, but didn’t do garter stitch rows at the top and bottom of the swatch. I love the rib effect it created, which can be a bit of a challenge to measure stitch counts, but I wanted to see how it measured out when left natural. The result of my 20 sts and 26 rows, without stretching out the fabric was 3” wide by 4” high.

2nd Swatch with US 7 [4.5mm] needle in a twisted rib measured 3” x 4” without stretching.

The poncho pattern calls for 22 sts and 22 rows = 4” [10 cm] in pattern with US 9 [5.5 mm] needle. There are a lot of patterns used in the poncho so I settled on using two of them in my swatch to see what I’d get. I wasn’t overly concerned since it isn’t a fitted garment, but did want to see the fabric it created before I started the project. Although my swatch didn’t match the gauge, I did seem to get about 6 sts and 6 rows = 1”. Perhaps if I had done all the patterns together it would have measured out more accurately, but like I said, I wasn’t overly concerned since it isn’t a fitted garment. I was pleased with the fabric so the US 9 [5.5mm] works with the pattern motifs nicely.

3rd Swatch with US 9 [5.5mm] needle with Patterns B and D from the poncho.

For the last swatch, I went back to the US 7 [4.5mm] needle to make a stocking stitch swatch. If you recall from yesterday, I mentioned that although the Wool-Ease recommended gauge is an Aran weight (18 sts x 24 rows), I found that it knit up rather nicely to a Worsted weight gauge of 20 sts x 26 rows. The fabric is a little denser which works out perfectly for the project I have in mind. From a picture standpoint, the swatch looks exactly the same as the 1st swatch.

I’m happy with the results of my swatches and I’m ready to proceed with my projects for the week. Tomorrow I’m going to use some of the pattern motifs from the poncho for the first project. I hope you’ll join me as I use Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Tawny Port to make a lovely warm hat.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: Knitting Lion Brand Wool Ease makes warm and easy care projects

Go to part 3: Knitting a warm hat with patterns from the Poncho

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