Swatching and Knitting with Simply Cotton

I was eagerly looking forward to the release of Simply Cotton, our new organic cotton yarn, so I snapped some up as soon as it was available. I had visions of a sturdy, everyday tote bag knit out of it. But when I got my yarn, I was seduced by the incredible softness of the fiber into scrapping that plan and choosing a garment to knit out of it instead. This is some soft cotton, and I couldn’t stand the idea of carrying it around with me instead of wearing it next to my skin!

Of course, my tote bag plan had conveniently circumvented the necessity of swatching, because a bag can turn out any number of sizes and still be useful. But if I’m knitting a garment, I want it to fit me, and since this yarn is machine washable, I wanted to make sure I knew exactly how it would behave. And this is what I am here to share with you today! For the good of us all, I have swatched, and I have information. First, let’s take a look at my before picture. This is Simply Cotton Sport in Malted Milk, knit on size 2 and 3 needles, before any washing. It’s not stretched at all, just pinned into place.

(Those little eyelets are my code so I won’t forget what size needles I used)

Before washing, I was getting 6.5 stitches to the inch and 7.75 rows to the inch on number 3 needles, and 6.75 stitches to the inch and 8 rows to the inch on number 2 needles. From the feel and drape of the fabric, I preferred that which had been knit on size 3s, but gauge and preference can both change after washing so into the machines went my little swatch. Let’s take a look at the after picture!

Can you see the difference? After machine washing in cold water and machine drying, the swatch grew slightly in the horizontal direction and shrank considerably in the vertical direction. My final gauge was 6.25 stitches and 8.75 rows to the inch on size 3 needles, and 6.5 stitches and 9.25 rows to the inch on size 2 needles. And, I saw that after washing, the cotton bloomed ever so slightly, and I now preferred the drape and appearance of the fabric knit on size 2s!

I’m making the Bottoms Up (Ravelry link) by Alice Bell, a charming design that I’ve wanted to make for a while but didn’t have the right yarn for. I’m getting stitch gauge perfectly, but my row gauge is short (due to all that shrinkage), so I’m lengthening each repeat of the pattern so I’ll end up with a shirt that actually covers my torso. Between working on my City Tweed project, and the fact that the first 40 rows (or, in my case of short row gauge, 50 rows) of this pattern are in maddening twisted rib, I have only made it through the first ball so far:

But I think it’s going to be a winner. And if not, I’ll just head on out of the Simply Cotton Knitalong and into the UFO knitalong for support! <