What’s that all about?
I came across some beautiful silk yarn in Avril when I was in Tokyo and I felt compelled to have it. When I was looking for a suitable pattern on the internet I came across the advise that you should always wash your swatch (tension square) especially if you are using natural fibre (animal or plant) or knitting patterned stitches. When coming into contact with water, fibre changes and sometimes irreversibly. Silk and cotton, for example, can swell, which would make a completed items bigger. So getting a true gauge by washing or blocking the swatch is especially important if the garment is a fitted one.
This is what is recommended:
- Knit a swatch tension square (some recommends with garter stitch on all sides to stop it from curling)
- Wash and dry it, or block it (different ways of wetting and drying the swatch) as you would your finished garment
- Count the stitches and rows
- Keep the tension square, don’t rip it out.
I wonder whether this is the reason why my tension never matches any of Jo Sharp’s yarn (my knitting being too loose – although I can’t see this advice anywhere on her patterns). I recently started another Jo Sharp fitted cardigan using some Avril yarn I bought. Now feel I should start again with a tension square again (and ripping out 15 rows of k1 p1 rib, as the entire lot of yarn came in a spindle/ cone, I can’t use a separate ball). On top of that, I am now to scared to wash any of my knitted clothes!