Happy first day of the Double the Fun KAL, Guildenstern edition! I hope you’re as excited as I am to make this adorable shirt by Cory Ellen Boberg! I chose to go with the Spruced Up color combo and can't wait to wear it this summer!
The first week of our KAL is a lot of housekeeping: designating colors, choosing size, swatching and measuring for gauge. So, let’s jump right in and get down to the business of making a fabulous shirt that fits!
When I think about the order of colors I think “Ok, lightest at the top, darkest at the bottom” so lightest color is Color A and darkest color is Color D. NOPE! It’s the reverse. Since this top is worked from the bottom-up, we need to make sure our darkest color is Color A. I found it helpful to grab a Sharpie actually write “Color A”, “Color B”, etc. on the ball band of each skein.
IMPORTANT! Cory makes specific note in the pattern to use Color D to swatch. Please be sure you know which color is your Color D and use that to knit up your swatch to avoid running out of yarn in the other colors!
Choosing a Size
You likely already have your yarn (though if you don't, there's still totally time to join us) - which means you probably have a general idea about the size of garment you plan to make. BUT! If you’re on the fence about sizing here’s a tip I offer to anyone who asks:
Go into your closet and find your most favorite garment - preferably knit, if possible. You know which one I’m talking about: the one that you’re always happy to see is clean, the one that you feel like a total Rockstar when you wear it. THAT one!
Lay it flat on a non-stick surface, like a countertop or kitchen table, not a bed or sofa that can “stick” to the fabric, and measure the dimension across the bust of the garment. Make the size of Guildenstern based on that!
As an example, I’m a 40.5” bust and one of my favorite favorite shirts measures 41.75” (the dimension across the bust when laid flat is around 20-7/8” - half of the total circumference). Now, obviously the top doesn’t come in quarter sizes, only full sizes every 2”, so I’m going to knit the size closest which comes in at 42”. Pretty perfect!
Let’s Talk Swatching ITR!
Before we get started with the knitting, I want to talk about swatching for gauge when working in the round (ITR). I know lots of knitters who will swatch flat for knitting in the round. I have BEEN one of those knitters. Lemme tell ya… it didn’t work out so well for the finished garment fitting me so I’m here to share my favorite knitting tip: SPEED SWATCHING!
Alright, so "speed swatching" it’s a bit of a misnomer based on the fact that you don’t actually knit any faster, but you can create a gauge swatch that is appropriate for measuring gauge in the round faster than if you did it the traditional way: casting on an entire tube and knitting the whole thing.
Here’s a video tutorial on how to knit a speed swatch for this project since we’re going to be working this in the round once the hems are complete.
How to Measure Gauge
Once your swatch is dry, dry, dry, it’s time to measure your gauge so you know that your finished garment will fit.
I’m going to refer to you to a handy-dandy blog post that Heather shared back in May when she hosted another knit along with a few reminders/tips:
- Be sure to use Color D!
- Use a needle size that is close to the size you estimate you’ll need for this project. Cory calls for a US 6 in the pattern. I know from experience with Ewe Ewe Yarns that to get 24 sts / 4” using a sport weight yarn I need to go down a needle size or two. I swatched using my US 4 needle and am bang on 24 sts / 4”. If you don’t know, start with a US 6. If you swatch a couple of inches (pre-blocking) and measure and you’re already getting fewer stitches per inch, go down a needle size and restart.
- Cast on at least 30 sts (Heather’s blog post calls for 20 but they were using a Bulky-weight yarn). You want to make sure you have a good sample to take your gauge over.
Ok, with that said, head on over to Heather’s previous blog post about measuring your stitch gauge by clicking HERE.
Choosing Needle Sizes
Once you have determined your gauge for your Larger needle size, you'll need to determine what your Smaller needle size is (if you didn’t get gauge on at US 6).
My first assumption was to go down 3 needle sizes as per Cory’s pattern, however, after some trial and error on my part, I decided it was best to go down the metric number of sizes, as closely as possible.
For example, you’ll notice that Cory uses a US 6 (4 mm) for the Larger needle and her Smaller needle is a US 3 (3.25 mm). That’s a metric diameter difference of 0.75 mm. So I highly recommend just going down the 0.75 mm in size rather than 3 needle sizes.
- If you’re using a US 6 for your Larger needle, obviously use a US 3 for your Smaller needle.
- If you’re using a US 5 for your Larger needle, I would still recommend using a US 3 for your Smaller needle. Going down to a US 2 would be too small compared to your Larger needle gauge.
- If you’re like me and need to use a US 4 to meet gauge, go down to a US 2 (2.75 mm) needle to get the 0.75 mm diameter difference.
Whew! That felt like a lot of work just to get to the magical part of casting on. But we’re finally there!
For week 1 (that's today!) we’re going to work the Cast On - Front and Back using our Smaller needles, exactly as Cory has it written. Mostly!
TIP TIME! I highly recommend knitting the Back hem first. You can work the back Hem, and break the yarn then work the Front hem leaving the working yarn attached for joining in the round next week.
If you don’t have 2 needles of the same size you can knit the Back hem and place the stitches on a stitch holder or length of smooth waste yarn while you work the Front hem. You’ll be able to tell the difference between the two because the Front is shorter than the Back. Next week we’ll talk about joining the Front and the Back and working the shirt in the round (so much faster!).
Until next week...
Week 2 of the Guildenstern edition of the Double the Fun KAL will be next Thursday, July 26th where we'll tackle joining in the round and Body Stripes Section 1. But before I sign off the blog post for the week, I have two more tips for you as you get those busy little fingers a-knittin’!
- Grab a highlighter or red pen and go through the pattern and highlight or circle your size of instructions throughout the pattern. It’ll make the process moving forward a lot easier - far less counting each set of instructions to get your size.
- Clip a removable marker to the RS of your garter stitch hems. You’ll notice that in the instructions Cory says “Beginning with WS facing” - so you’ll want to make sure you know RS from WS so that when you start the Body you’ve got the correct side of the garter ridges facing you!
This week your goal will be to swatch, measure your gauge and knit the Front and Back hems.
Next week we’re going to start working the shirt in the round so be sure you have a 32” circular needle with which to join the work and a couple of stitch markers. Have a great week of knitting!
Check in, encourage others, have fun!
Heather and Meaghan are here to answer any questions you might have about these projects and how a knit-along works. We hope you'll join us on this summertime knitting adventure!
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