Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Amiga kal: Planning and Swatching

Happy Canada Day!!

Sorry, I felt the need to say that.  :)  Hope you all are having a lovely day, Canadian or no!

Swatching in front of the tv
So my good buddy Heather is a wonderful person and an overall good friend (as most knitters are).  And despite knitting for AGES, has never knit a sweater before.  Shocked?  I AM. 

I've been hounding her for years to start one, because I am a good knitty friend.  And yes, she does actually want to knit one - she owns how many sweaters worth of yarn for the purpose - but for one reason or another, has never gotten around to it.  So as the filthy enabler that I am, have finally talked her into doing a sweater KAL with me!  This way she has the motivation to do it, and I can help her if she runs into any issues.

The extra fun part has been trying to pick a pattern that we both want to knit.  See Heather and I, despite having the same name, have completely opposite tastes in everything clothing.  In spite of this, we both agree that Amiga is an amazingly versatile pattern, and easy enough for a beginners sweater.  So problem solved.

Valley Yarns - Noho
I'm knitting mine using a cheaper alternative to the scrumptious recommended yarn (which is Americo Cotton Flamme, if you're interested) - Valley Yarns Noho Cotton Flake.  Which...I see is now discontinued and on closeout at Webs for about $16.  Hmm, I might order another cone of this, because it's nice to work with...

Anywho, Heather will be using an alpaca/wool version of the recommended yarn, Winter Flamme.  Which looks scrumptious and I have a little bit of fibre envy (but whatever my yarn is cool).

I did a bit of swatching to see how my cotton yarn would behave.  I knit one swatch on 5 mm needles, and got 19 st/24 rows in 4" off the needles.  This was close to gauge, at 17 sts/24 rows in 4".  I wasn't really concerned about it being 2 sts off, since a small tug makes this loosely knit fabric at gauge.  I want this snugly fitted across the shoulders, so I wasn't worried too much.

Then I blocked it in my usual way, which involved dumping it in a giant bowl with luke warm water and some mild soap, letting it soak for a while, then squeezing out the water, rolling it in a towel and stomping on it to get out most of the water, and then laying to dry.

Swatch testing
This resulted in a swatch that was about the same width, but that had shrunk from 6.5" long to 6" long at a row gauge of 26st/4 inches.  Hmm.  I expected this though since it's cotton.  And I sort of expect that the fabric will actually stretch a bit with wear.  But this is definitely something I'll have to keep in mind around places like the armholes and raglan increases.

For kicks and curiosity, I tossed the swatch in with a load a laundry.  You can see the result at the bottom of the photo above.  It shrunk a further 1/2" with a row gauge of about 28 st/4 inch.  And it's still holding strong at 19 st/4 inch width wise.  Except now it's far less stretchy width-wise since the fabric if firmer, somehow.

Despite this, I actually like the fabric more after it's trip though the wash cycle.  The yarn bloomed wonderfully from a tightly woven string, and the whole thing is softer and drapier.  So I think I'm going to send it through the cycle at least once.  I'll have to deal with the bias that the dryer emphasized (see how the swatch skews to the left in each of the photos, and gets worse at the bottom?), but I'm sure I can fix this by pulling it out of the dryer before it's completely dry and tugging on it a bit.  Despite having cast this on already on 5 mm needles (haha I was excited leave me alone), I think I'll rip it back and restart with 5.5 mms to help with the gauge a bit.

And so concludes my most extensive swatching experiment ever.  Yeah I'm normally pretty lack-luster at this part, but it was kind of fun!

Next update on this Amiga KAL will probably deal with some of the fitting adjustments and mods planned for this pattern for both Heather and I.

Although the next blog post might actually include some sewing for once!


  1. Fun! I made a wool Amiga a couple of years ago, and it's still one of my favorites. Enjoy!

    1. Ooo nice! I saw a really thick and cozy amiga made out of a non-thick/thin yarn, and it looked so cozy. I'm digging cozy and comfy lately - I think I'm getting old, I definitely prefer cozy to stylish. :D

  2. That is a scrummy cardigan (that's a word I made up) - delicious, lovely, and I really hope your friend makes a success of this. Meanwhile, I am off to download the pattern...Happy knitting :)

    1. I didn't know that you knit! Did I know? Nope, don't think I did! It's looking like a nice pattern - simple but perfect for a basic layer.