Tag Archives: swatching

So what about the tension?

A huge thank you for all your comments on my last post. It was really interesting. It seems that most of you learnt to knit using the throwing style. I wonder if that is because most of you are predominately English-speaking? I doubt I shall ever know.

I decided to do a bit more investigating into the different styles, both as a practice and out of interest too. I knitted up 3 swatches using each of the styles.

I knit and crochet tightly. This means that I have to use larger needles or crochet hooks than is mentioned in the pattern. I was interested to see if the different styles had any impact on my tension.

I took two measurements, one before blocking and one after:

First the Portuguese one

24st and 29 rows

24st and 29 rows

22 st     29 rows

22 st 29 rows









Then the continental:

25 st   33 rows

25 st 33 rows

26 st     30 rows

26 st 30 rows









Finally my original style:

25 st    33 rows

25 st 33 rows

25 st     32 rows

25 st 32 rows









To be honest this was not what I was expecting at all. Before blocking the Portuguese style of knitting was the tightest. This may be explained by the fact that the tension is not just done with your hands but around the pin/neck. This is very different to using your hands so may well explain the even tighter tension. The other two were exactly the same pre blocking. I guess I knit so tight that there is no room for getting any tighter!

The biggest surprise however was when I compared the pre and post blocking – they got smaller. I thought they got bigger! To be fair it was not an aggressive block, I simply took out the curl. I am still surprised. Before you ask, I only soaked them in a bit of water. Not hot as I put my hands in it.

To be honest I was hoping for a simple answer such as; If I use …….style my knitting is a better tension. I like easy answers but it seems that it is not to be.

I have the yarn to knit a cardigan so shall have to think some more about which style to choose. Which would you choose?



I have written about the amazing effect of blocking knitting and crochet before as it opens itself out, giving the stitches the definition that they deserve. I have also written about how important swatching is. Both of these were again underlined to me this week.

This is a swatch I did - before blocking.

This is a swatch I did – before blocking.

During blocking.

During blocking.

The swatch after blocking.

The swatch after blocking.

Looking at the tape measure, you can see that the swatch grew by 2 cm. This was not enough as the swatch was meant to be 13cm square according to the pattern.  I had already gone up a needle size as I know that I knit tightly……

The photographs show that the pattern really opens out post blocking, and the measurements show how important the swatching process is. I have gone up a couple more needle sizes and started again. Imagine how small the top would have been had I not bothered with swatching and blocking!

A mountain or a mole hill?

I made a real meal out of my latest crochet project. I managed to make a couple of evenings work (at the most) last about a month! No joke.

It all started with this lovely pattern:

Source – Thanks to notsogranny

Notsogranny posted it on Facebook where my sister-in-law saw it. She asked how hard it was and I immediately saw a solution to the what-shall-buy problem and offered to make it for her.

I duly set off and bought some lovely yarn and a sparkling new hook. (I had a hook but wanted to treat myself!) As it was a hat the tension was not important and so I didn’t bother with a tension square.

Mistake Number 1!

All was going well until Joanne pointed out that it looked like a child’s version. Just to be clear here my sister-in-law is not a child!. Luckily I  had 2 skeins and so was able to start again without ripping back. I did a quick measure of tension and, surprise, surprise found out that it was far too tight. I figured that I really needed to go up a full hook size. Unfortunately I didn’t have one and so went up half a size and made a real effort to keep the tension loose. (Bang went my lovely new hook :()

This went well except that now the brim was……wait for it……too big!.

Mistake number 2

This was ripped back again. I went back to the original hook and re-did it. This time it was perfect 🙂

From the top

From the top

...and from the side.

…and from the side.

In case you are wondering this is not a difficult pattern and I do urge you to have a go. It is really wearable and looks fab on. Perfect for the current cold snap we are having.

I will definitely be taking the time to swatch in the future!