Shortly after Christmas, I was browsing around for yarn deals and stumbled across some Caron Simply Soft Worsted at Mary Maxim. $1.29 for 150 yards! "Bargain!", I thought to myself, even for acrylic (the deal seems to be still on, if you are interested). I thought that it would be perfect for amigurumis and as "tryout yarn" to save my more expensive yarn from swatching mania. I ordered a bucketload.
About three quarters of the bucketload is still there on the shelf, looking at me while I breastfeed and wondering when I'll finally have the time for serious knitting again (I am wondering the exact same thing).
Now, many of the techniques I would like to try would fit best on a sweater. But here's the issue: I am breastfeeding an ever-hungry baby. My bust size is far from what it used to be, and only God knows what it will be when I am done. I like my sweater close-fitting so any sweater I come up with now would be, most likely, short-lived. Hence, I must wait.
"No!", I hear you shout! "You can make a short-lived sweater out of the $1,29 yarn!" And you are right. I hereby announce the birth of the Tryout Sweater, through which new techniques will compete for a position in my knitting toolbox. Color: whatever looks nice in my $1.29 stash. Size: breastfeeding. Lifespan: from the moment it is finished to the day Sarah switches to porridge and cow milk.
It will be a completely seamless top-down raglan sweater a la Barbara Walker. The raglan seams will be decorated with a cable or some cute stitch. My cast-on and bind-off will match, probably through their tubular version. I will weave in ends as I go. It will be in stockinette, although I really like the seed stitch too. I'll have no choice but knit with more than one color, because the stash was built mainly for amigurumis (many colors, few skeins of each). There will be bust darts (to accommodate for the breastfeeding size) and waist shaping, I don't know about the collar yet, but need to make my mind soon because when you knit with Barbara Walker, that's where you start.
But even before the collar, there is the gauge swatch. I'll be knitting in the round, so I must need to knit my swatch in the round too. I could knit myself a hat (the Elizabeth Zimmermann way) or knit flat on a circular needle leaving long floats behind. The TECHknitter suggests another way: the "Whole-Loop" method.
The idea is simple. You first knit your right side row. Then, you turn and knit the next row, just like if you were knitting in garter stitch. Once you're done, you mark the yarn straight after your last stitch with a safety pin, and undo the second row. The length of yarn between the last stitch of the first row and the safety pin is the length of yarn you need to knit one row. You can go back to the beginning of the right side and start knitting holding the yarn where the safety pin. That is, you knit your row with the long float that you created (the explanations of the TECHknitter are much much clearer - check them out here).
I tried it out. Here's the result.
The length of yarn I needed to knit a row was from the tip of my left hand fingers to my right collarbone, with the left arm extended. I doubted that I could always be "spot on" at the end of the row with that "high-tech" measurement method. Also, my gauge is pretty even, but I am not a machine, Finally, even with the best intentions, there is always a little slippage when you knit the first stitch of the "wrong side made right side" row. I found a way to make it work though. When I had too little yarn, I knitted 2 together at the end of the row. When I had too much, I knitted through the front and back loops. That is why the left side of my swatch is so uneven. However, since my swatch is large enough, I have plenty of room left - when ignoring the leftmost inch of the swatch - to make an accurate gauge reading. Accurate, because blocked and lying completely flat!
The Whole-Loop method wins in the tryouts!!! I am happy to share this victory with Tami's amis and Ginny, on another WIP Wednesday. Visit the other WIP projects too!!