I believe that I owe my collective swatches an apology. I have often maligned a swatch, claiming that it has lied to me. This has been the result of many, many swatches incorrectly predicting the number of stitches that I must cast on for a particular project, as evidenced by the fact that the final garment bears no resemblance to the size that a swatch led me to expect. But, I stand corrected. It’s not the swatch.

It’s the measuring tape.

I have proof.

In preparation for the alpaca oblivion sweater, I took more measurements than is probably healthy for anyone’s self-esteem. If there was something that could be measured, I measured it. I measured with sweaters and without them. I measured over jeans, and without. My sketches are littered with numbers and brackets identifying the measurements to which each set of numbers pertains. I only stopped when entirely confident that I could make a complete, fully accurate 3D model of my upper body. I swatched. I knit a sleeve. I checked gauge on several areas of the swatches and sleeve. I calculated my stitch requirements, and I knit.

The sweater was intended to be fairly form-fitting; it had zero ease at the hip (didn’t want it to be clingy), and never any positive ease. Despite numerous countings, recountings, and recalculating of stitch counts, the sweater is not close-fitting. It’s rather baggy, to be perfectly honest.

To be even more honest, it’s something of a relief to have a slightly baggy sweater after measuring yourself accurate to within the quarter inch. But that’s beside the point.

The point is that this sweater was meant to be form fitting, and it just plain isn’t. I chalked this up to another instance of lying swatches. They’re deceitful little buggers.

Or so I thought.

Last night, I finished the sleeves for the raspberry-colored sweater. This means that it’s time to cast on for the body, which brings me back to the perennial problem of how many stitches to cast on. I knew that the alpaca sweater was a wee bit large, so I figured I’d measure it, compare its circumference with that of my hips, and determine the measurement for the new sweater based on that number. So, I laid out Oblivion.

It measures exactly 44 inches at the bottom hem. Which is exactly the size of my hips + jeans at that point (I told you that some bagginness was a welcome thing). This is exactly what I had planned based on my measurements.

The only problem is that the exactly 44-inch hem is at least 4-6 inches bigger than my hips when it’s actually on my body. It does not appear stretched when it’s on. I measured it in an unstretched position to get the hem length. So, somehow, the sweater becomes instantly bigger when put on, but shows no signs of stretching.

Either that, or my hips become smaller. Now that would be nice, but I have no delusions in that regard.

All the evidence says that the swatch was telling me the truth all along. I cast on for 44 inches, and I got 44 inches. It’s just that the 44 inches are somehow not actually related to the size of the sweater on a human frame. Now, the only remaining arbiter between sweater and hip size is the measuring tape (yes, it’s the same one, there is no stretching of measuring tape to blame.)

It’s not the swatch; it’s the measuring tape that’s out to get me.

My deepest apologies to the swatches.