Over Thanksgiving weekend I decided to celebrate having all my Christmas knitting done. There was a box of Knitpicks Andean Treasure baby alpaca in the corner calling my name. 16 skeins of Mystery Heather (dark gray) and two skeins of Hot Red Heather.
Since I needed to swatch the anticipated gray sweater in the round, I decided to knit a hat. And since I only had two skeins of the red, I decided to knit the hat out of the red, thereby breaking a basic rule of swatching:
Always swatch with the color that's going to be used because different colors knit up at different gauges.
I had fun knitting the hat, so I finished off the weekend by swatching my plan for the neckline. In red. Breaking the same rule.
A few evenings later when I was tired and not thinking clearly (there always has to be an excuse when stupidity is admitted publicly), I decided that even though my swatches hadn't been washed, I could at least cast on the lower ribbing in gray and knit for a while before going to bed.
The gray yarn is nothing like the red. It's much fuzzier. Knitting it on the same size needle, #3, the knitting was so tight I could hardly move the stitches along. The cabled ribbing didn't show through the fuzz.
But being tired and brain dead, I kept going until all the pulling separated the needle from the cord. Another rule of knitting:
When something feels awful in your hands, especially something as wonderful as alpaca, just STOP knitting and replan the project.
After some sleep, I admitted the gray isn't going to knit anything like the red. It isn't going to knit at the same gauge. I need to use a needle several sizes larger. I need to knit a new set of swatches. And, I need to plan a different sweater to make this yarn and me happy.