Tag Archives: swatch

Putting On My Thinking Cap

It’s been nice to be finished with my Papaya Sweater.  But it was on my needles for so long that I kind of got used to having it as my easy go-to when I had a few minutes of knitting time.  It was something that I always knew I could pick up and get to work on without thinking about what I had to do next.

Now that it’s done, I’ve actually got to put a little thought into what I’m going to do next.

I’ve already decided that I want to use the Provincial Tweed yarn that I got from Knit Picks.  It’s a beautiful colorway, it’s super soft, and I have enough for a whole sweater, so how could I say no?

I spent yesterday morning winding up all the skeins, and now I have a very satisfying bowl of yarn cakes, ready for action!And then, I spent the afternoon working up a nice-sized swatch on US8s.And, I gotta say… I was not expecting this yarn to make such lovely, silky fabric.

I’m not complaining, but I was really surprised how this yarn knit up.  I was expecting something with a little more texture, a little more stitch definition, but that doesn’t seem to be what this yarn wants to do.It’s possible that if I go down a needle size (or two or three), this yarn might get a little more backbone, but I don’t know if I want to futz with that.  It might be better to just go with the flow (or rather, go with the nice flow-y fabric that I’ve already got).

I had been planning on making some sort of  cabled pullover, something like this one (except maybe a little less fancy).  But, I don’t think that’s going to work with the texture of the Provincial Tweed yarn.Instead, I’m now thinking I might need to make something a little looser and drapier.  (And something that possibly looks a lot more like my Papaya Sweater than I had originally intended for this yarn.)  I might try a cardigan like this, or design something myself.I’ve got to put my thinking cap on for a bit and see if I can’t figure out what I should do.  (Or, in true Allison fashion, I could leave the yarn to percolate in my studio for the next six months or so before I ever actually knit anything with it.)

What would you do in this situation?

Bulletin

I make a lot of swatches.  I’m not religious about it when I’m working someone else’s pattern, but swatching is an absolute must when designing.  I think of them sort of as a sketch, a way to get my ideas out into the world.  Maybe I’ll have a really great idea, but it ends up looking really bad when knit up.  Or maybe the swatch will reveal a design flaw that I didn’t foresee.   Or, I start swatching, and I come up with an idea that is even better than my original one.

Long story short, I have a big stack of swatches.  Several dozen at least.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away, and they’re too varied to be sewn together into a blanket or anything useful.  All different sizes, shapes, and weights.  Some have been turned into fully-realized patterns, and some never got out of the planning stage, but I like them all.

And I can’t throw them away.

For a long time I had them strung up on the back of my closet door.  But it started to look messy (actually mess, not messy-on-pupose in a Pinterest-y kind of way).

So, I got some great big bulletin boards, and have started pinning up some of my swatches.  And, you know.  I think it looks pretty good.img_3951It’s fun to see all my ideas laid out like that.  Some of these are only ever going to be swatches, some are patterns that have been published already, and some turned into patterns that are going to be released in the future.  (Don’t ask me to tell you which are which!  It’ll be a surprise!)

I think Ollie likes my bulletin boards, too.  (HA!  He couldn’t care less, but he did like the box the boards came in.)img_3957What do you do with your swatches?  Do you keep them? Unravel them? Throw them away?  Or, do you not bother with swatches to begin with?

Project Tea Cozy: The Swatch

Woo! It’s tea cozy time!  (Almost.)

I know no one likes swatching, me included.  (And, if I’m being honest, I rarely make a swatch if I’m following someone else’s pattern.)  But, when you’re designing a pattern making a swatch is an absolute necessity.

So I pulled out my favorite colors and made one great big swatch with three different patterns, to see which I liked best.

The first pattern was a wide stripe-and-polka dot combo.  I like it, but I think it’s a bit big for a tea cozy- after all my teapot is a little on the small side.img_3299Then, I thought, “Maybe something fancier-something more Fair Isle-y.”  I like this diamond pattern quite a bit.img_3312But, again, I think it might be too big.  So I worked up a scaled-down version of the first pattern.  Narrow stripes with teeny polka dots.  Sure, I’ll have to deal with a million little ends, but I think I like the result best.img_3304So, I’ve got my swatch and decided on my pattern.  I measured the gauge, and made sure to write it down in my book.

img_3344I’ve taken my measurements and have a plan in my head.  Next time, we’ll get down into the nitty-gritty of math.

Don’t forget!  I’ve got 2 (count ’em!) giveaways going on as we speak.  Comment here for a chance to win a copy of On the Go Knits, or here for a chance to win Knits for Everybody!

The Husband Sweater: Yarn!

My husband picked out the pattern for his sweater, and the yarn, too. And here it is:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKnit Picks Comfy Sport in Planetarium and Whisker (AKA, navy blue and gray).

Let’s just take a moment to remember the example pictures on the pattern:

img_4328_medium2_medium[1]I wonder where he got the idea for a blue and gray sweater?  A sweater with stripes is far enough out of his comfort zone, so I’m not going to raise a stink about the color choice.  (And, he is a Ravenclaw, so I suppose blue and silver is pretty on point.)

The yarn is a cotton/acrylic blend, which I usually wouldn’t use for a sweater.  But, my husband runs super warm, so anything with even a touch of wool doesn’t get worn, except on vacation to the Great White North.  So we’ll see how it works as a sweater.  Have any of you knit a sweater out of cotton?

I worked up a little swatch on size 5 needles:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI got gauge with size 5 needles, not size 7, like the pattern suggests.  Which is weird.  I’m usually a pretty average knitter, but I guess I won’t argue with the swatch gods.  Maybe it has to do with the fiber content?  Cottons don’t really stretch, but wool (like the pattern asks for) is quite stretchy.  We’ll just have to see.

Cross your fingers for me!

 

 

(Fewer Than) 50 Shades of Gray

My Dove Heather yarn showed up!  And it’s perfect!  Look!

Before:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s not blocked yet (obviously), and the picture is a little over-exposed, but you get the gist!  The dove gray is the perfect shade.  It’s light enough that it doesn’t get swallowed up by the blue, and it’s the perfect counterpoint for the pink.  I couldn’t be happier.

Now I just have to knit the rest of the sweater… Oy!

Swatches on My Wall

I have always had mixed feelings on swatches, especially when need one just to figure out my gauge.  They take time to work up, when what I really want to do is jump straight into the sweater-knitting.  And, they use up precious, precious, yarn that could be used in the aforementioned sweater.  And, of course, I hate waste, and there is nothing as wasteful as a dumb swatch sitting at the bottom of a bin in my craft room.  Nothing. (Don’t try to tell me about rainforest deforestation, or the overuse of paper towels, or the oil industry.  Swatches are more wasteful.)

Well, friends, that all changed a few weeks ago, when I was doing my bi-monthly rummage through my knitting supplies, and I realized I had acquired a sizable stash of some pretty cool swatches.

And I found some twine and clothespins.

I had no choice, really.  I had to make a swatch display on the back of a closet door.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACool, right?  I plan on adding more and more swatches as I collect them.  It’s really fun to see all of my ideas from the last six months laid out like that.  Some of the swatches are projects I designed (see Grandma’s Sweater and the Sailor Jane Scarf in there?).  Some are ideas that I ended up not using.  And some are simple gauge swatches that I used for projects I made from other peoples’ patterns (there’s one for my Persistence is Key Sweater).

I might come up with a more permanent way to display my knitting ideas (frames maybe, or embroidery hoops?), but for now, I love the flexibility that my little “clothes line” gives me.  I can add to it easily, move things around, and if I need to take a swatch down to look at some detail, I can do it, no problem.  I love having my knitted “idea book” up on my wall.

What do you do with swatches?  Do you keep them, or do you unravel them?

A Swatch Dilemma

I’ve been knitting away, and have swatched up my Biggo yarn for my Grandma’s Christmas Sweater.  And, well…

I am not pleased.

I give you Figure 1 (Gray Snowflakes with Pink Border):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEw!  No!  The contrast between the blue and gray is way to low.  All that work, and you can barely see the snowflake pattern.  (It looks even worse in real life…. ugh!)

I give you Figure 2 (Pink Snowflakes with Gray Border):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABetter, but not great.  I think the gray is just too low-contrast.

So, I have three options:

1.  Just deal with it.  Knit up the sweater as shown in Figure 2, and let it go.

2.  Forget about trying to use both gray and pink, and just make the sweater out of pink and blue yarn.

3.  Order more gray yarn from Knit Picks in a lighter shade.

I will sit here and sulk for a while, then, I suppose I’ll make a decision.  (At least I did the swatch first… That would have been so frustrating if I’d already started working on the sweater?  Ugh.)