Archive for January, 2014

Swatch that sweater – Cassis KAL

In order to encourage you to swatch for your Cassis sweater and this knit-a-long, I have decided that the act of swatching will be the official KAL cast on action. If you have already done so, then you get a virtual gold star.

If you haven’t read the introductory post to this KAL, you may want to do so before proceeding with this post, First KAL of 2014 -It’s a Sweater. It will make more sense overall.


Angela’s swatch for Cassis. PDS Worsted knit on US 8 needles.

If you don’t know what on earth a swatch is, it is when you knit up a square of fabric out of your chosen project yarn. Nearly all patterns will have a place that says the  Gauge (or Tension) is X number of stitches by Y number of rows over 4 inches (10 cm) in some type of stitch (or X stitches per in and Y rows per inch in given stitch type). For the Cassis, the swatch is knit in stockinette stitches but often gauge is measured over the dominant design feature such as a cable or lace pattern. So double check the pattern.

gauge diagram

Standard practice to measure over 4 inches / 10 cm. So that means that a little 2 inch x 2 inch square isn’t really sufficient. Knit that swatch big, at least 5 x 5 inches.  If you are wondering what those holes are in my swatch, I put eyelets (yo, k2tog) equal to my needle size (US sizes). I learned that from Jamie H. (telogirl2003 on Ravelry).

Measure your swatch and count the number of stitches in the 4 inches. Do this in several places to double check. Then do the same for your rows. Now record this information and find your stitches and rows in 1 inch. Wash, dry and block your swatch as you will the actual project and take the measurements all over. This is the gauge you need for your work.

If your numbers vary from the given pattern information, you have a few decisions to make. The first is to decide if you need to try another swatch with a different needle size. If you need more stitches per inch, go down a needle size, for less, go up a size. If you can just tell that you are so far off that changing needle sizes won’t help, then you need to reconsider your yarn choice. If you like the fabric and your gauge is nearly correct, you may need to rework some of the pattern numbers. The beauty of a top down seamless sweater like Cassis is you can try on your sweater as you go. That makes slight adjustments as you knit possible. But it won’t fix a major difference between your gauge and the patterns without you doing some math work.

Here is why gauge matters. If your pattern has a gauge of 4 stitches per inch and you knit up 4.5 stitches per inch, that means every 4 inches you have 2 extra stitches (16 stitches/4 inches vs. 18 stitches/4 inches). Say you cast on 64 stitches and knit for awhile….

  • At pattern gauge – 16 stitches in 4 inches, you should have 16 inches width-wise. 64 stitches / 4 stitches per inch = 16 inches
  • At your gauge – 18 stitches in 4 inches, you should have ~14.2 inches width-wise, 64 stitches / 4.5 stitches per inch = 14.2222 inches

So you have nearly two inches difference between the two. Two inches difference in a hat is the difference between a child’s head and an adult. Over a greater number of stitches in a sweater, that two inches differences adds up and you end up with a sweater that doesn’t fit you.

So cast on that swatch and let’s knit a sweater this February. The end date for the KAL is actually March 15th. We have the Super Bowl and the Olympics to watch, plenty of good TV knitting time. Of course, as cold as it has been in the US and Canada, we haven’t been getting out much as usual. But it is good for knitting.

Just want to share with you my Cassis Sweater’s yarn, our exclusive hand dyed worsted yarn, PDS Worsted in Fireweed…I am in love! Just in time for Valentine’s Day which I also really enjoy!


Remember, if you are knitting with hand dyed yarns, you really should alternate skeins for best effect. But I will go on and on about that another day.

Tell us what you think about swatching. Do you have any stories to tell? Join us over on Ravelry in the KAL thread or here in the comments.

Happy Swatching and Knitting!

~Angela M.


January 31, 2014 at 8:33 pm 2 comments

First KAL of 2014 – It’s a sweater!

After 2013 was filled with many types of KAL projects, there has been something missing. Many of you have commented on this missing project. It is a sweater.

Well, sweaters are the ultimate knitterly project for sure. But honestly, choosing a sweater that suits everyone’s taste is nearly impossible. But then a Knit ‘n Needle staff member, Jennifer (twincomet on Ravelry) made a sweater for an in store sample. It has been very well received by customers. So we decided that it would be a great canditate for a sweater KAL. So that is how our choice for our first KAL of 2014 came to fruition.

The sweater is Cassis by Thea Coleman aka Baby Cocktails. Here is Jennifer’s sweater knit in The Fibre Company’s Acadia. Beautiful!

twincomet Cassis 5The Cassis is knit from the top down starting with the wide collar. The pattern has several ways to customize this sweater for yourself. There are two length options, hip (Jennifer’s) and long thigh length. As it is knit from the top, you can stop anywhere within the two to fit your preference. You can also make it with short or long sleeves. There are no closures and the front drapes in a very contemporary way. The sizing is such that the back should fall straight down with a little bit of ease but the fronts are sized generously to ripple slightly.

twincomet Cassis 4The Cassis pattern is also written for two gauges.

  • 5 stitches & 7 rows per 1″ or 20 stitches & 28 rows over 4″ / 10cm – heavy DK & worsted yarn (called Basic Worsted in pattern)
  • 4 stitches & 6 rows per 1″ or 16 stitches & 24 rows over 4″ / 10cm – heavy worsted or aran (called Basic Aran in pattern)

Note: The pattern actually has three sets of numbers, but the second set of numbers is for a specific yarn and the gauge for this yarn is the 5 stitches & 7 rows/1″ gauge. Unless you are using that yarn, you can just disregard those numbers as they are actually the same as the Basic Worsted numbers.

With the options of different body and sleeve lengths, determining needed yardage may seem a bit daunting. My suggestion to think about what type of sweater that you will actually wear or would like to have in your wardrobe. Perhaps you would like a sweater to wear over long sleeved tees and is casual, then short sleeves and a longer length would be nice. The hip length with long sleeves would be the most professional for those who need office ready garments. If you want to wrap yourself in a cozy sweater, I think the long length, long sleeves in the Basic Aran/4 stitches/1″ gauge would be perfect.

At the gauge of 5 st/in or 4 st/in, the number of yarn choices are numerous to say the least. So I am going to give you my recommendations along with a few comments on each. The most important thing to do once you have your yarn is to swatch the yarn. Some of these yarn could work at either gauge and you will need to chose which fabric you like best.

Recommended yarns available from Polka Dot Sheep for Cassis Sweater KAL

  • PDS Worsted – Our Exclusive Hand Dyed Yarn, limited availability. If you see a color you like in a sweater amount, you might want to buy it because it may disappear until more is finished. This yarn could knit up to either gauge depending upon the knitter and desired fabric.
  • Malabrigo Rios – I would say this is a Basic Worsted. If you knit on the lose side, it might knit at the Basic Aran gauge for you.
  • Berroco Vintage – Great all around yarn, worsted, many colors available
  • Berroco Ultra Alpaca – With the alpaca, this yarn would drape beautifully in the fronts. It is a light worsted so you might need to make several swatches to determine your needed needle size.
  • Berroco Abode – Worsted, Lovely watercolor effect when knit up but with jewel colors.
  • Berroco Remix – This yarn is a intriguing blend of 100% recycled yarn. There is no wool so if you want a sweater that is more suitable for spring or fall, this is perfect yarn. Remix also has a wonderful tweed look.
  • The Fibre Company Acadia – Jennifer’s Cassis is knit in this yarn. Acadia is also a blended yarn with slubs (or little nubs) of silk throughout. If you chose this yarn, swatch very carefully especially paying attention to your row gauge. You can make adjustments to compensate for a different row gauge more easily with a top down raglan sweater.

Needles – The gauges given for this sweater fall into the range of US 6-8 (4-5 mm) for most knitters. However, I strongly suggest that you swatch to determine the necessary needle size for your yarn and knitting. The body of the sweater is knit flat using a long circular (24″ or larger / 60 cm or larger) needle or straights. The sleeves are knit in the round with double pointed needles (or with your preferred small circumference knitting method).

PatternCassis by Thea Coleman available on Ravelry or in the Knit ‘n Needle Yarn Shoppe

Start Date: February 1, 2014

End Date: March 15, 2014

There will be a support thread,  PDS KAL: Cassis Sweater , in our Polka Dot Sheep Ravelry Group and blog posts here. Please join us there. The Ravelry group is the best place for ongoing support, but you can also use the comments of the blog and of course if you are local the Knit ‘n Needle Yarn Shoppe is there for you too.

For local customers, I strongly encourage you to go into the shoppe and check out the Cassis sweater in person. You can purchase the pattern as well as your yarn (of course) there.

twincomet Cassis 3

After you purchase the pattern

  • Read it carefully including all notes.
  • Determine the body and sleeve length you want.
  • When purchasing yarn, be sure to sufficient amounts to do a nice big swatch (usually one more skein than needed for project).
  • Swatch BIG in stockinette stitch (at least 5 x 5 square), measure gauge, then wash, dry lightly blocked per pattern instructions and measure gauge again (this is the one that needs to match the pattern).

My personal observations ~

  • After knitting, washing, and drying your swatch, hang it from your hand at an diagonal and make sure you like how the fabric drapes. This is especially true for yarns that can be knit to either 5 st/in or 4 st/in. You might find you like the fabric at the 4 st/in gauge for the front of the sweater.
  • If you think you would know what yarn you would like to use and you have a ball in your stash, swatch it up before you buy your yarn.
  • If you are thinking, Angela sure is preaching the gospel of swatching here a lot, yes, yes I am. Swatching is your very good friend when making garments that fit. In fact, look for an upcoming post talking about swatching.

Thanks for reading this rather wordy introductory post. We hope you are excited to join us for this KAL as we are about hosting it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask in the comments section of the blog or over in the Ravelry thread.

Happy Knitting! Looking forward to knitting and crocheting with you all this year!

~Angela M.

January 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm 2 comments


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