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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Verrrrry Interesting...

OK, remember last week I discussed the huge problem I had had with superwash wools? (Huge being the operative word.) I finished knitting up the swatch of Dream in Color Classy (Cool Fire colorway), washed it really well, and since someone commented that the trick to superwash wools was to toss them in the dryer to get them to go back to shape, I tried that too. Here's what happened.


First of all, let me show you the unwashed swatch. I used three different needle sizes, separated each section with a purl ridge and, while you can't really see it in the photo, there are purl bumps at the lower right corner of each swatch, telling me which needle size that swatch was (4 bumps for the US 4's, etc.). At the bottom of the swatch, I used US 4's (3.5 mm) and my unwashed gauge was 6 stitches per inch and 8.5 rows per inch. The middle section was done on US 3's (3.25 mm) and it's pretty small because that size needle just wasn't comfortable for the yarn. My gauge came out to be 6.5 stitches per inch and 9 rows per inch, unwashed. At the top, was US 5's (3.75 mm) and my unwashed gauge was 5.5 stitches per inch and 7.5 rows per inch.

The whole thing was dumped into the washing machine with the pink load (yes, I have enough pink clothes that I can make a washer load with them, but to be fair, I also include reds too), given a full washing and tossed into the dryer until it was almost dry.


Here is the washed swatch. As far as differences to the eye, the yarn bloomed a bit and softened up some. I can tell from looking that I wouldn't want to go with needles bigger than size 5's because I think the fabric would be too loose and there would be pilling.

What are the numbers after washing? The size 4's washed up to 6 stitches per inch and 9 rows per inch. The size 3's washed up at 6.5 stitches per inch and 10.25 rows per inch. The size 5's washed up at 5.5 stitches per inch and 9 rows per inch. So what changed? The stitches per inch stayed the same, but I now have more rows per inch than I did when I started! This being said, I'm willing to bet there would be less change on the rows per inch in an actual garment because of the weight of the thing, but there was enough of a change for me to think I might add a bit to a hem or cuff - the lower edges of a garment have less pulling on them than the tops of the garment, gravity pulling down and all.

Overall, I'm shocked at the washed results. Clearly, throwing superwash into the dryer does make it bounce back. My original pattern plan for this yarn was written for a gauge of 21 stitches over 4 inches, and while it's close to the swatch on the 5's (22 stitches over 4 inches), I really don't want to make the stitches any bigger. I personally prefer the look and feel of the swatch on the size 4's which gives me a gauge of 24 stitches over 4 inches, so I'll be looking for another pattern for this yarn. Since I haven't finished the sleeves on the berry lace cardi, I've got time.

Finally, thanks for all the get well wishes. I do think I'm going to live now, so that's always nice!


Blogger BammerKT said...

It's not weird to have enough pink and red clothes to make a load is it? :S

I dry my superwash too for the exact same reason. I do find that it sort of "grows" a bit while wearing, but maybe that's just me. In any case, the swatch is just beautiful and I'm looking forward to seeing your finished product.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Geek Knitter said...

That is such great information, thank you so much! I'm working on a sweater with superwash, and reading the tale of your ginormous sweater scared me to death. The dryer it is! Glad you're feeling better!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Vicki said...

A great experiment. Hopefullly it will behave the same way in sweater form.

I could EASILY have an entire load (or closet) of pink clothes. I have to force myself to buy things in other colors :)

10:41 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Thanks for the great information. It is so useful to know all these.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief,
You have made a believer outta me.

No matter what they say at the yarn shop...It might not work.


8:15 PM  

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