I have therefore spent some of my day making a swatch, the phase of any knitting project that follows provisionally choosing a yarn and a pattern and precedes some critical decisions. For non-knitters (and some knitters) this seems to be a tedious and useless task that serves only to use up some of your precious time and materials, producing a scrap of fabric that is good for exactly nothing.
They would be wrong. Swatching is a highly educational step that tells you the answers to some or all of the following questions:
- How do I make this stitch pattern?
- Do the recommended needles, with my yarn, produce the gauge (the number of stitches and rows in a square of knitted fabric) that will allow me to knit a garment from this pattern that will have the right dimensions?
- What are the characteristics of the fabric that I can make with this yarn on these needles, following the stitch pattern?
- Do I like the results?
- How does the fabric change, if at all, after I wash it?
The last question is of particular importance with ColourMart yarns, since they are oiled for machine knitting and can change quite a lot after washing removes the oil and the yarn "blooms".
So here is a photo of my unwashed swatch. This is the stitch pattern from the Adam's Rib cardigan plus some stockinette. I made some mistakes in the stitch pattern, because the chart was a little unusual. However by working through it I can see what the pattern is supposed to look like, which will help me knit it correctly when (if) the time comes.
Unwashed, the yarn feels dry and the ribbing is a little crunchy. I hope that will wash out and the swatch will become more drapey. I wouldn't want a wrap cardigan that is as stiff feeling as this swatch.
The good news is that the unwashed stitch pattern is almost exactly the size that it should be for the Adam's Rib cardigan.