Today, I’m knitting some swatches using three different needle sizes to determine which fabric I like the best. This impacts how I’ll proceed with my selected projects as the sweater pattern I chose is based on a gauge of 20 sts x 26 rows in stocking stitch using a US 7 [4.5mm] needle.
Sweater patterns designed for cotton will often have a very tight gauge so that the finished project holds its shape. There was a time when I would use the recommended needle size and knit tightly to achieve gauge. Cotton does not have elasticity so I found it to be very uncomfortable on my hands and didn’t enjoy working with it. Over time, I learned to relax and use the needle size that lets me knit comfortably and still achieve gauge. That’s what today is about.
First Up – I’ll use a US 7 [4.5mm] needle, but I won’t try to get gauge. Instead, I’ll relax and see what I end up with for my swatch. I cast on 25 stitches and knit 2 stitches at each end and 2 rows in garter stitch. I then proceeded to knit 27 rows in stocking stitch and ended with 2 more rows of garter stitch. My swatch measured in at 19 sts and 25 rows over 4”.
Secondly – I used a US 6 [4mm] swatch using the same number of stitches and rows. This resulted in 20 sts and 26 rows over 4”.
Lastly – I used a US 5 [3.75mm] swatch with the same number of stitches and rows. This swatch measured in at 21 sts and 27 rows.
When I laundered these swatches, I placed them in a laundry bag and threw them in the wash with my other cotton undergarments and sweaters in a warm wash and medium dryer … in other words, no special treatment other than the laundry bag, but that’s because I didn’t want to lose them in the wash, so to speak. After laundering, I measured my swatches again and was rather pleased that the gauge did not significantly change.
In the past, I’ve found that hand-knitted cotton fabric may change its shape over time. It tends to expand in width and reduce in length.
This is one of the key reasons why I remove my cotton knitwear from the dryer while it’s still damp, reshape it, and lay flat to finish drying.
I must say, this is one of the softest cotton fibers I’ve knit. My preference was using the US 6 [4mm] needle and happily, that’s the right size for me to achieve the Tee sweater gauge that I’ll be working on tomorrow.
I love the colors of this yarn as well – turquoise and bright green are two of my favorite summer colors, so this should be a fun week.
Join me tomorrow when I use Cotton Supreme Waves in Heliotrope to make a bright and cheery summer Tee!