The four swatches I ended up with were all roughly the same size on completion despite curling a bit. I washed them in lukewarm water with Soak, leaving the MadTosh to last. It bled very slightly (the water had a very light greenish tinge) but was better than I expected.

Four squares of knitting laid out on a towel to dry.

I rolled them in a towel to get rid of the excess water and patted them out flat to dry on another towel. When blocking for a garment – this should be sufficient for plain stocking stitch. Leave the hard blocking for a lace shawl. My only exception would be a garter stitch hem which I would pin flat if it was a garment.

Once they were dry I realised that some of the characteristics where a lot easier to describe with video than just words so I have done some short video so you can see the handle of the resulting fabrics.

The results:

MadTosh Vintage

Pre washing the Madtosh Vintage 19 sts by 28rows per 10 cms. Post washing it was 18 sts to 26 rows. The fabric softened slightly with washing but has a nice solid feeling which I think will be ideal for the project. The pattern I have planned for this uses Brooklyn Tweed Shelter at 20sts and 30 rows at 4 inches on a 4.5 mm – I am going to see what the extra stitches might mean for positive ease but am confident this will work (and J likes it 🙂 )

Malabrigo Rios

Prewashing the Malabrigo Rios was coming in at 22 stiches and 28 rows. It is now measuring at 21 stitches and 28 rows. The little piece I had knitted at the beginning on 4 mm in error appears to be 22×28. The pattern is 20 stitches by 28 rows. In theory I could possible jump up a needle size but I don’t think I want the fabric any looser, so again will do a bit of maths on the pattern size. The photo above is a better indicator but there is a warning on Dark and Stormy about not using a variegated yarn with too much contrast and the swatch has helped confirm this colourway will work as well.

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

The main reason I wanted to swatch this spare skien of Shelter was to see how different the fabric was compared to the Mad Tosh Vintage from the perspective of the pattern. Prewashing the gauge was 19 stiches by 28 rows and post was 20 stitches by 28 rows. The sharp eyed will notice that unlike the superwash yarns which relax with washing this yarn tightened slightly, so the stitch count increased rather than decreased. It was a useful comparison to the Mad Tosh swatch.

Dyestock Yarns Double Knit

I switched this left over yarn out for the Dark Harbour Port as a demo of what a 4.5mm swatch would look like on a yarn we describe as DK in New Zealand. Pre washing the swatch was 20 stitches and 26 rows, afterwards it was 18 and 26. I have knitted a jersey in this yarn with a 4mm gauge and was really happy with it, the pattern was designed for Tosh DK with a 4mm gauge of 20st and 28 rows (which I checked at the time) Despite the gauge being the same this a softer looser fabric than the Tosh Vintage, but as I comment in the video it is not TOO loose and preference could apply.

Square on pink knitting with black circle around uneven stitches.

This swatch was the only one where there were some noticeably wonky stitches and I have just realised they are pretty much undetectable now. Which is your regular reminder that a garment isn’t really completed until it has been through its first wash and dry.


I think the most surprising aspect of this exercise was how close my tension was to the recommendation. I tend to assume that my gauge is quite loose but this would suggest otherwise and it is as much about the fabric – the combination of yarn and needle as the gauge. I am of course now wanting to cast on all the projects – so was probably a good thing I substituted two yarns!Las

And in other knitting adventures related to tension

I ripped back the sleeve I had started for Eunice as I was unhappy with how wide the cuff was. Looking back at the design on the model it is quite a jacket style cuff but I felt that at that size I would find it annoying. I thought it could be my tension but when I checked it was spot on (28 sts to 10 cm on the colourwork) So I bit the bullet and ripped it back. While it meant my Friday was spent reknitting rather than progressing I am much happier with it and and hoping to still be half way complete by the end of the day.

This week’s book

Last weekend I made a foray to a book club that our local book store had organised, partially because of the book they had chosen which was Patricia Grace’s Bird Child and other stories It’s a relatively recent release and part of the attraction was the cover! It is a collection of stories, both mythological and slice of life. The title story very much pulls you into a Māori world view and the interconnectedness of things, and as such could be a challenging read. But all of the stories are different and interesting. I feel like I ended up trying to read it too fast (the book club thing) and want to return to it and read it again with more time between each part.

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