Swatches from Hell

Swatches Aberlady sweater

Swatches Aberlady sweater

I spent the last few evenings swatching a pattern from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Collection which I wanted to use in a vest. I really like the way the simple knit and purl stitches make up the quite intricate looking ‚Aberlady‘ sweater. Alas, it drove me around the bend. I want to use Jamieson and Smith Shetland 2-ply which I find shows patterns like cables and such very nicely. Mrs Starmore used a yarn called Rowan Edina Ronay Silk/Wool which is discontinued – of course – and has about 185 meters per 50 grams, according to my research on the net. My yarn has about 130 m per 25 grams. She actually managed to get 18 stitches into 5 itty bitty centimeters with her yarn and 2.75 mm needles! How the hell did she do this, was the only question coming to mind. I did 3 swatches using 2.75, 2.5 and 2.25 mm needles and only got down to barely 16.5 to 17 stitches per 5 cm. Besides that, the pattern just didn’t show and the resulting fabric was not at all to my liking – much too dense. On the photograph (click the photo to get a larger version) you might think, well, it looks nice enough, but in reality, you cannot discern the pattern at all, I swear. I guess the yarn she used is a bit less ‚wooly’/fuzzy and she’s getting a VERY dense fabric which might help to bring out the pattern. But honestly, I did not intend to knit body armour but a soft vest to go over a shirt or blouse.

Well, I gave it up after that. Obviously gauge on Starmore designs is quite a bit of challenge for others too, so I won’t loose any sleep over it. I swatched a simple diamond pattern from Rowan’s Ultimate Book of Knits on # 2.5 mm needles and find it looks very nice. It’s simple enough for knitting in front of the TV but nonetheless keeps me interested.

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  • Marlo

    I’m glad I’m not the only one. I tried to make this sweater in the mid-nineties (when I was too inexeperienced to take the time to make a proper swatch) and failed miserably. I’ve held on to the yarn all these years and have been trying swatches and still not having any success. I’m down to 2.25 mm needles and 15 sts per 5 cm. I’m done! Guess I will have to find a new use for the yarn. Thanks for sharing your experience, it makes me feel better about finally putting this sweater to rest.

    • sgutperl

      Oh my, we are not alone. In the meantime I’ve met lot’s of people who ran into the same issues with pretty much every single one of Ms. Starmore’s patterns. By now I realize that it might be in part a result of her (English) knitting style and the use of straight needles (steel pins).

      I’m sure you will find a good use for your yarn!

      Happy knitting!

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