It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I'm busy getting everything ready for the upcoming beginner workshops on April 2nd and 16th at Florida Tech, and I can't wait. Remember to contact me if you plan on attending. Workshops attendees will receive a beginners kit including a project bag, needles, yarn, stitch markers, a tapestry needle, and a brand new pattern. That pattern is what I've been focusing on this week. I swatched and blocked the lovely yarn to be featured in this pattern: Quince &Co. Lark.
I wanted to talk a bit about swatching and blocking. Not only does swatching let you get a feel for the yarn you're working with [which is especially important for a yarn you've not worked with before], but it lets you see how the yarn will behave on a given needle. Not all, but most, patterns refernce gauge. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows that make up a square inch. Swatching is how your determine your gauge. It is affected by yarn weight, needle size, and the knitter's tension. Even if a knitter is working with familiar yarn and needles, gauge may vary based on whether you're working flat or in the round.
Likewise, swatches allow you to see how your garment will be affects by blocking. Blocking is an important part of knitting; your piece is not finished until it's been blocked. To block a swatch or garment simply follow your yarn's care instructions. For Lark, and most wool yarns, that is simply to hand wash in cold water [I use a rinse-less wash like this]. Your project will look different after it has been blocked, so it is vital to know how significant that change will be. As you can see from the photos below, after being blocked the swatch is slightly larger and more relaxed than in its pre-blocked state. The yarn is also much softer post blocking. Blocking can be used to shape and size your garment as well as open up lace work.
It doesn't take much yarn or time and it will afford you so much information-swatch and block!