Blocking my Swatch
Here is a picture of my swatch tracing. I noted on the paper the number of stitches and rows I had worked, and a few other things I thought would might be good to know later on. Notice I drew in the garter ridges because those will be my guides when I compare my tracing to my blocked swatch. I also know that the tracing is generous because it is difficult to get too close.
You can see in the drawing, and in the first photos of the unblocked swatch, that the stitch pattern causes the fabric to bias a bit. I know from past experience that this will block out. It is why I put seams into this piece. It is too hard to get a good hard blocking of something knitted in the round, and this stitch pattern needs blocking into shape. I’ve had the same result in every yarn I’ve knit this in (three).
The measurements of the unblocked swatch are 4.75” wide (30 sts) and 4.5” high (40 rows between garter ridges). I know from experience that when working with a plant fiber (cotton) things have a tendency to get wider and shorter. This won’t be as pronounced as on a pure cotton. I love to block swatches on impermeable surfaces with a steam iron. Perfect for a hotel room. There are glass tops on all of the wood furniture, so I just heated up the iron, laid the swatch out on the dresser, and shot steam into it. When I felt it was probably “softened up”, I moved it into a proper rectangle. Because of the moisture that accumulates on the surface, it is easy to move it into position and have it stay there. Then I really steam it. You can see the moisture sitting on the glass. I will leave the swatch until that moisture dries. I did the blocking about 11:30 and took gauge at about 4:30. After the swatch has fully dried I can move it without worrying that I might be distorting it.
Casting On and Getting Started
I am using an Addi Turbo needle that has a long cable. I am almost always too lazy to get another needle so I just use the two ends of a single needle for my flexible long-tail cast on. This is a perfect application for the flexible long-tail. The edge ends up with a modified picot-type edge, but is very easy to work. I didn’t want to guess how much yarn I would need, so I used yarn from the inside and outside of my ball. I hate repeated counting, so I put removable markers every 20 sts. After pulling out the lower needle I’m ready to go. I cut the yarn coming from the outside of my cake so I can pull yarn from the center. This may eventually cave in on me, but while traveling it is definitely the way to go.
I work my first row of trim and realize I am one stitch short, so I just cheat my last SK2P and make it a SKP. You may be above things like that, but I’m not. I work my increase row and start working the pattern. Preliminary indications are that it takes about 15 minutes to work a full four rows of pattern—and the purl rows take about 3 minutes each. That means it takes 4.5 to 5 minutes to work each of the RS rows. This information is good when I need to plan how much time I need to knit portions of my piece. I won’t bore you with my calculations, but I often do this.
My gauge came out perfectly on the stitches, and I am going to have to work 1 row more every four inches. I don’t think this will make any difference in the long haul. Probably a total of 4 or 6 more rows for the entire back.