You have a new-to-you yarn and you’re not sure what tension to use. Knitting a “Get-Acquainted Swatch” will allow you to play with tensions and determine what you like for this yarn.
Unlike a GAUGE SWATCH (where you establish the gauge in your stitch pattern) a TENSION SWATCH (AKA a get-acquainted swatch) will give you the information you need to have success with the yarn.
You have a new-to-you yarn that you’d like to knit with and where do you start? Now the ball band may give you some information about the suggested needles to use for hand knitting and what stitches you might get, but as machine knitters this doesn’t tell us anything. This doesn’t tell us what tension to turn on the tension dial of your machine.
Let’s spend some time today playing with a get acquainted swatch. Hi, I’m Sue, I’m the voice and the hands from the Knit it Now videos. And for over 10 years we’ve been helping knitters just like you have success with their knitting machines. Now when we’re talking about a “get acquainted” swatch, I used to call this a tension swatch. Ot’s just a little swatch that lets you know how the yard is going to knit up.
The concept of a get acquainted swatch was introduced to me by a fellow knitter, Nancy, who knits a lot. She does production knitting. And anytime she gets a new yarn, she casts on and starts knitting with that yarn in the stitch pattern that she’s hoping to use, and she’ll start way down at the tightest tension and work all the way up to the loosest tension marking as she goes.
Not to be confused with the gauge swatch, a gauge swatche os what you knit so that you can calculate what your stitches and rows are. I’m talking about a get acquainted swatch. It’s just a way for you to play around with the yarn to see how it’s going to knit on your machine. What tension that you like the feel of, as you’re knitting this new yarn.
I have this new yarn and I don’t know what to do with it. So I’m going to cast on a few stitches. Maybe 20 stitches or so. Now in my experience, I know that this is a worsted weight yarn. I’m looking at the ball band. It tells me information that will let me know that this is probably a bulky or a mid gauge yarn.
I’ll cast on a few stitches and just start knitting. Now. Also, with some experience, I’ve learned that you know, this worsted weight yarn is going to net somewhere in about the middle of my tension dial. So I’m probably not going to knit this heavy, heavy yarn at attention zero. Right? And tension 10 at the opposite end of the gauge is probably going to be way too loose.
I’ll start at about the middle of the tension dial. So for my tension swatch or my “get acquainted” swatch, I just cast on maybe about 20 stitches or so and knit for a little bit. I started at tension seven, sort of middle of the range of my tension dial. I’ll knit for an inch or so, and then mark my tension.
I use eyelets to mark the tension and then knit a couple more inches. Immediately, as I’m knitting, I get tell tension seven with this yarn is just too loose for me. So I’m going to crank down the tension by one full number, put in some eyelets again, I’ll take it down to six and knit for a few inches.
Now that’s feeling a lot better. Just to be on the safe side. I’m going to crank it down. One more tension to a five. Again, marking with eyelets, just so I have some space in between these areas,
and I can tell as it’s coming off the machine that this might be a little bit too tight.
I’ll just drop this swatch off the machine. Now again, I can just feel and get a feel for what I like. This is in stockinette. If I was knitting in a stitch pattern, I would do it in the stitch pattern as well. And honestly, with this yarn, if I was going to knit in tuck, I might knit at the tension
seven. You just need to play. We’re giving you permission to play with the yarn and play with your machine. Now, another thing that a tenstion swatch can do for you is showing you what’s happening with this yarn. Maybe the yard will bias, maybe the yard isn’t appropriate for the knitting machine. If you worry about the yard bleeding or shrinking, it’s good to play with this swatch and see what happens.
If you throw this in the machine and it shrinks down, you’ll have an idea of what tension to knit it at, so that you maintain the feel that you like. Before I forget, please click the little subscribe button below and follow Knit it Now here on YouTube, we publish a new video every week. No matter where you are on your machine knitting journey, we’re here to help.
Nancy puts a tag on her “get acquainted” swatch, and then puts it in with the cone or the balls and if she’s going to store the yard so that she has something to reference, she puts as much detail on that tag as she can. So she remembers what machine she use, what tensions she use, what she did to the swatch and, and the brand name and when she bought it and all that good stuff.
So put as much detail as you can. So when you go back to buy this yarn again, you have the facts and you can get knitting quickly. So now that I have this tension swatch, I’m going to go ahead and knit my gauge swatch. Measure this gauge swatch. I’ll dress it, hang it, do whatever I need to the proper way for a gauge swatch, and I’m ready to get knitting.
My garment will have the proper gauge and it’ll feel the way I want it to feel. So I’ll use a Knit it Now pattern. I’ll draft my own pattern. I’ll use software based on my gauge. I’m not matching anybody else’s gauge. If you struggle with your knitting and your knitted items don’t come out the right size.
Swatching is not optional. We have an entire classroom at Knit it Now on the subject of swatching. Knititnow.com/swatch. I hope you’ll embrace knitting a “getting acquainted” swatch when you try new yarn. It’ll save you time and also open up a world of possibilities with the wide range of yarns that we have available to use on our knitting machines.
Until next time, thanks for watching. Happy knitting.