Lincoln has been quoted as saying "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I'll spend the first four sharpening the axe".
I guess what I'm saying is start with a sharp axe...
I've learned most of these little tips and tricks the hard way, although they do seem a bit obvious on reading through them. Sometimes we all just need a reminder to eat our veggies.
First and most important, you CANNOT make yarn & a pattern match by sheer force of will. I know I have been guilty of this, and I bet some of you have too. You have found THE perfect sweater, the one you see in your dreams, the one you will wear every single day all Fall long and you are itching to cast on...but all in your stash yarn the color you picture it in and have almost the right amount of yarn for is the wrong weight. Within reason you can "push" the stated gauge on the ball band a little but you need to understand what the does to the fabric.
Using thinner yarn than suggested will make an airier & drapier fabric. This is usually a better option than using a thicker yarn than suggested which will give you a more dense and stiff fabric. Of course you still need to get the gauge listed on the pattern if you plan on following it exactly.
Another thing to think about is same gauge doesn't always mean same fabric hand. The swatches below are both the same gauge but the left is knit with Nimbus held singly and the right it is held double. Besides the look being different the drape of the fabric created is totally different.
The last little tip about preparedness I'll share is REALLY use your swatch! What I mean by this is try the ribbing or an unfamiliar technique out on this tiny piece of knitting before moving on to the real thing. If you've never picked up stitches from the side of a piece of knitting, trying on your swatch is a low risk way of perfecting your method. Then, when you are ready to pick buttons, you can bring your swatch with you to test for size rather than dragging the whole sweater along. I recommend not banding your swatch in garter, although I know many knitters like to for 'prettiness' but I think it can slightly distort your gauge, so unless you are making a cardigan trimmed with garter, resist the urge!
This probably could go without saying but, I'll say it anyway: wash & block your swatch if you intend to wash & block your sweater, the gauge may change and it is the safest way to test for colorfastness.
I've had such a hard time trying to decide what sweater to make for Rhinebeck this year. My mom emailed and said she was really wanting to make the Sweatshirt Sweater from Purl Bee and I realized I could REALLY use a utilitarian sweater just like that. She's making hers with Mohonk.
And I was totally set on doing that too
|Sweatshirt Sweater from Purl Bee|
...and then I did last week's post with all the beautiful sweaters from my Ravelry group and had a moment of indecision. While "idling" through new patterns on Ravelry I also stumbled across the perfect in its simplicity Crows Nest Cardigan by Amy Christoffers and got to thinking how gorgeous that would be in Hudson, done in stripes of a multi and contrasting solid color...
|Crows Nest Cardigan|
Or maybe Strokkur by Ysolda Teague made in Valkill which is a DK weight so there would be a bit more air in the knit than if I used Aran weight but the Cheviot fiber will hold it's structure really well and had a twist similar to traditional lopi yarns. I'm imagining it in Cloud with the colorwork done in Dark Roast and Paprika...
But you can never have enough cardigans, I like the super low neckline of the Delancey Cardigan and it would be perfect in undyed Rockwell with a bright overdyed shade as the stripes
So it looks like I haven't really narrowed my choices down at all! Luckily there is a lot of yarn here to choose from so maybe I'll just swatch for a few of these options and have a think for another week.
Have you started a new Fall sweater yet? I'd love to hear what you're making! Maybe it hep me decide - or if nothing else help grow my Ravelry queue to even more epic proportions...