Vix Knits… and crochets and sews…

My adventures in the wonderful world of arts and crafts

Tension headache

on March 6, 2012

Apologies for not posting yesterday as promised, I had a rather traumatic morning having tests at the hospital and wasn’t feeling my best (I’m still feeling a little fuzzy and very tired but trying to keep busy)

So, I’ve never been one for tension swatches, I’m simply too impatient to spend the time knitting a piece that’s essentially useless.

However, after several disastrous projects that can probably be traced back to tension, I’ve finally learnt my lesson. Hence, being so excited about finishing a swatch on Sunday

Unfortunately, I spent a large portion of this morning knitting more swatches!

The rules of swatching:

  • using the recommended needle size, cast on the recommended number of stitches plus 10
  • working in your stitch pattern, work the recommended number of rows plus 10
  • using a hard, flat surface and a rigid ruler, measure 10cm across the rows and stitches and count them up (some people mark out 10cm with pins and then count but I tend to just count along the ruler
  • measure in more than one place to double (and triple) check
  • if you have too few stitches, try again with smaller needles
  • if you have too many, use larger needles
  • a general rule of thumb is to go up or down by one size but this might not work so persevere until you’ve got it

So, my pattern states ’22sts and 28rows = 4″ (10cm) in Twisted Stockinette stitch (Twisted st st) using larger needles’ (3.75mm)

Initially, I didn’t knit a swatch. I meant to, but just started the vest out of habit.

It soon became clear that the piece was too small and, measuring my stitches, I appeared to have 26sts to 10cm.

Being the big, brave girl that I am, I took it all out and knitted a swatch using 4mm needles. I cast on 32sts and worked 38rows.

It didn’t take too long and I was strangely proud of myself. So I was really disappointed to discover that I still had 26sts to 10cm!

Again, I took it out (I can’t see the point of keeping them) and tried again with 4.5mm needles. I was feeling pretty frustrated so I measured the stitch count after eight rows and I still had too many!

I switched up to 5mm needles but carried on knitting the swatch, worked 10 rows and measured again. It finally seemed to be working!

So, again, I took it all out and started again with the 5mm needles. I knitted the whole swatch in a couple of hours and, although my row count is still a little off, I’m finally happy with my tension.

My concern now is knitting 4-ply yarn with 5mm needles as it creates a very loose, open weave.

So, I waited for a second opinion before casting on for my vest (Mum’s helpful like that) We think it’ll be okay and I figure it’s worth a try since I’ve bought the yarn.

The most irritating part is that I’ve also bought new needles that I don’t need now but I’m hoping to swap them for some more goodies.

I’m also hoping the vest won’t take long to knit up so I can start experimenting with the collar (see Mina’s Tuxedo Vest – help!)

I’ll post pictures of my progress


One response to “Tension headache

  1. […] adventures in the wonderful world of arts and crafts « Tension headache Mar […]

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