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Tranquil Tank Top Knit-Along – Gauge Swatching

KAL badgeWelcome to our 2013 Spring Knit-Along! I am very happy to host this event and hope that many of you will join in and knit along with me. The Tranquil Tank Top is a winner of a project for many reasons! It is a great piece to add to a wardrobe and just as great a project to teach some new knitting techniques. This top is perfect for all-season wear. For spring, it would be great over a cooler-weather top or a sleeveless dress for a little added warmth. For summer, it will be perfect over a camisole top and even for fall and beyond, a perfect layer piece over another longer sleeved top.

Pix 1 -Blue Tank Top

Yarn Selection

Since this is our Spring Knit-Along, I decided to knit this in a cooler yarn - in a very “tranquil” blue. Choosing what yarn to use is always important when planning a project, and for me is half the fun! The original yarn used in this pattern was Vanna’s Choice, which comes in so many great colors. For warmer weather, I chose Cotton-Ease in a calming blue called “Seaspray”. For this pattern you will want a heavier worsted-weight yarn like Vanna’s Choice, Cotton-Ease or Recycled Cotton. Last week, Ashley gave us yarn amounts we will need for these yarns in each of the three sizes – so just find a size and then you will know how much yarn you will need. Zontee also suggested Kitchen Cotton and Martha Stewart Crafts™ Cotton Hemp for other 100% natural options--just be sure to calculate exactly how many skeins you'll need for each.

Pix 2 -Cotton Ease Seaspray

What Size Do I Make?

Making the size you want is also essential. There are three sizes included in this pattern, and sometimes is can be difficult to determine which size to make. What I usually do is pull out a sweater or vest of mine similar to what I am making and take some measurements. If you have sleeveless top or vest that you like (and also like the way it fits), then I would measure across the bust, multiply times 2 and then you can determine which size will be best for you. I measured a summer top I like and it measured 40” around, so I will make the large size which has a finished bust of 42”. The ribbing around the bottom of the sweater will pull in around the mid to lower half of the top, so I think this is a good choice for me.

Knitting a Gauge Swatch

When I printed out the pattern, I noticed that there were six separate charts for the fronts and then saw that there were two charts (a left and right front) for each of the three sizes. I will make sure that I put the charts I will not be using away so there is less chance I will mistakenly start another size! So, now comes the other very important element in making sure that this top will turn out just the size I want … making the gauge swatch. I know the time I take in getting the correct gauge will ensure that I will make the right size and get used to working with the yarn before I start.

When I was looking at the gauge, I noticed that the gauge given was for the stitch pattern in the charts, rather than the “pattern stitch,” which is ribbing. So, looking at the charts, I saw that the chart pattern is a diagonal lace pattern with 5 stitches of stockinette stitch between each lace eyelet. From other patterns I have made, I thought that the gauge would be close to stockinette stitch. And since I noticed that the back of this sweater above the ribbing is all stockinette stitch, I realized that stockinette stitch is part of the pattern. I decided to get a gauge of 14 stitches to 4” (3 ½ stitches to the inch) to see how it would look. This would mean knitting the yarn at a looser gauge than is on the label, but I did get the gauge with a size US 10 needle and then tried the gauge with a sample of the diagonal eyelet pattern above it. The way I determined the gauge was to cast on 20 stitches and, with 3 stitches of garter on each side, I worked 14 stitches of stockinette stitch within this border. Then I measured 2 inches of stitches in the middle to get a very accurate gauge for stockinette stitch. Placing straight pins on each side of these stitches makes it much easier to measure. The correct gauge for 2” should be 7 stitches…and it is! I am not going to worry very much about the row gauge as the stitch gauge is more important to get the correct width.

Pix 3 -Gauge Stockinette

Then, I decided to continue with a sample of the diagonal lace pattern in the charts on the same swatch as my stockinette stitch. I could see that since the stitch did not pull in or make the swatch wider, that this gauge is correct. It looks good to go! So, for everyone joining our Knit-Along, just find which needles will give you a gauge of 3 ½ sts to 1” in stockinette stitch (knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side) and you will find the needles you will use for the entire project!

Pix 4-Gauge Swatch

I will write down on my pattern the needle size I need to use, since mine is different than the size in the pattern. Now I am already starting the back which is just K2, p2 ribbing for 9”. I love working with this cool and very pretty blue yarn.

Happy Spring and happy knitting until next week!

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