Madrona is the feeling that I, too, should have made something gorgeous to wear. It's not like I didn't know that it was coming, or that I didn't think about it ahead of time, but I was still sorry that I didn't have a Bohus sweater or a Bee Fields Shawl to wear. The other downside of Madrona is that you immediately start thinking about the whole year you have to knit something, and how great it is to start a new project, and if you bought the pattern AT Madrona, well, that's even better.
So that brings us to the swatches--I spent much of last week swatching for Vickie's Cardigan (Ravelry link), the pattern I bought from Black Water Abbey. I really love the Black Water Abbey Yarns (the colors are AMAZING), but given that I haven't finished a sweater in about 10 years, I decided to go with a less expensive option. Cascade 220 fits the bill--it's inexpensive, comes in a lot of colors, and I have a Renaissance gift card. If this cardigan works out, there's another Black Water Abbey pattern that I have my eye on, and another opportunity to use their yarn.
Swatching is, as always, trying, but on a sweater a small gauge problem can get big in a hurry, and I want this to be a spectacular, wear to Madrona sweater. I pulled out a ball of Cascade 200 Heathers from my stash, started swatching with the recommended needle size (US7), and within a few rows decided that it was going to be much too big. Ripped it out. Dropped two sizes (I had no 6's on me), knit a giant swatch. Washed it--much too tight. Went up to size 6, knit the diamond cable and then a few inches of the gauge pattern. Washed it--still too tight. Went up to a size 7, knit a swatch. Washed it. Gauge is perfect. Arrrrrrgh--hours of swatch time wasted, when I could have just followed through with the size 7.
Now that I'm happy with the gauge, I have only to wait for my yarn to arrive. Renaissance carries maybe a hundred or a hundred and fifty colors of Cascade, and is very well-stocked. Of course, the only color that I can possibly settle for (a dark heather blue), is a few skeins short of what I need, so I have to sit on my hands for a little while longer. Good thing that I have a few other projects available to work on . . .