When swatching for a sweater, I always block the swatch so that I understand how the fabric will change with washing. Lore is 100% Romney wool, and pure wool has a tendency to bloom -- the fibers fluff up a bit, filling in gaps and causing the stitches to mesh together. Lore is also woollen spun, as opposed to worsted spun, which means that the fibers are not combed completely parallel before spinning. The resulting irregularities give the yarn a rustic texture and create air pockets that will give the yarn a greater tendency to bloom. So I was very excited to see how my swatch would transform!
The pictures above show the swatch fresh off the needles on the top and the blocked swatch on the bottom. I always measure my sweater swatches before and after washing. In this case, the row gauge stayed the same (although the Broken Rib stretched a bit to match the Mock Cable section and make the swatch more rectangular).
Horizontally, the full swatch changed from 11.5 inches to 14.25 inches across, with the Mock Cable changing more than the Broken Rib.
Here is a closer look at the Mock Cable, again with the blocked picture on the bottom. (I didn't have the ruler lined up in quite the same place, but you can see that the three pairs of cables are considerably less wide before blocking.)
You can also see in these pictures how the texture of the cables changed. The yarn did bloom and the stitches are not as sharply defined after washing.*
As far as whether this gauge will work for my project, I'm still deliberating about that. My row gauge matches, but my stitch gauge is slightly large. Doing some calculations, I figured out that my gauge on the US 6 will add about 1.5 inches to the circumference of the sweater. Given the relatively small amount of ease that was already allowed for, this is probably just fine. And the stitch count for the next size down would end up too small, even at my slightly larger gauge. So I'll probably stick with it. It might be interesting to see what happens with one needle size down, though, just for kicks.
*Some of you eagle-eyed readers will notice that I made mistakes in both of the stitch patterns. I am actually glad that this happened because it will help me make fewer mistakes when I start working on the sweater.
I've finished another swatch of the Mock Cable pattern, this time on US 5. I'm so glad I did it, because the stitch gauge is just perfect on US 5, and the row gauge didn't change enough to matter.
Again, you can see how much it changed with blocking:
And this photo shows how the US 5 swatch compares to the US 6 swatch:
So now I'm ready to cast on!