Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Testing one, two, three

I've come to truly appreciate the power of the swatch. I used to see swatching as the activity that came between me and finally diving in to a new project. Now, I see them as a sort of prelude or "fibre first date". Finishing a swatch is a bit of a milestone and if all the stars are in alignment, important clues to ensure a successful knitting project are there for the plucking.

I'm thinking that the Indigo Ripples skirt will be the perfect "take-along" vacation knitting. We're planning a road trip to Quebec to see my MIL at the end of June and it's 10 hours by car. Kat Coyle, the designer of this garment has a way with pretty skirts for sure. Her lovely skirt shown in Greetings from the Knit Cafe is stunning. Julia from Mind of Winter has made a lovely version of it. Kat Coyle has also designed the skirt in Lace Style. It didn't catch my eye at first but after seeing a denim version of it here, I realized the skirt was suffering from lousy styling. Honestly, that poor model should get hazard pay for having to wear two layers of mis-matched underpinnings tucked into a knit skirt!

My LYS is unfortunately going out of business because the owners are retiring up North. The good news is...everything is 40% off. I picked up some Twilley's Freedom Denim in the darkest blue for a song - a song I say! I'm told many of these denims are made at the same factory - I've never worked with denim before so, this is my first brand to handle. I'm planning to use Eunny's trick of using a slightly smaller needle to get a fabric that won't sag. I swatched on 3.5mm and got about a 20.5 stitch gauge pre washing and post blocking. I was a bit concerned by some twizzling of the yarn I noted while knitting. I was afraid the fabric might bias but once washed and pressed, all seems to be nice and square. My swatch shrunk the requisite 20% in length and down to 22 stitches per 4 inches gauge. I will also lengthen this skirt so the ruffles begin about 2 - 3 inches above the knee cap instead of mid thigh.

I'm also working on Maritime which is a very straight forward knit perfect for taking along. I love the indigo and white together - so summery! I often use sleeves as swatches if I'm using a straight forward yarn such as the Cotton Glace used here. I also adore the colour striping on the cuff - here's a close up of what can't be seen in Rowan 41.

I've also completed the back to the Bonsai tunic. Now onto the front and hopefully this will be an FO before long. My swatch for this one was a big fat liar but it worked out in the end.

Swatches and I have at last come to a place of mutual respect. This last exercise has taught me the importance of washing the swatch as well. I can't promise I'll always follow the "swatching protocol" to the letter but at least now I'll know what I'm missing.


Lolly said...

Ooooh. I love the bonsai tunic -- where's that pattern from?

Elspeth said...

If you're thinking of doing the skirt in Lace Style, Michelle, I'd really encourage you! It's one of my most favorite skirts ever: comfortable, flattering and easy to wear. Happy knitting!

theresa said...

I love your knitted projects. The skirt has caught my eye, too. Thanks for the best review of bamboo yarn I've read, you've inspired me to knit with the bonsai next.
Have you thought of doing some knit magazine reviews/published writing??

Marisa said...

The bonsai tunic is looking great!

vanessa said...


Katinka said...

I just read a harrowing blog story from a non-swatching knitter who completed an entire Nantucket Jacket, and ONLY THEN discovered that the fabric grew several inches in width in the wash. Ouch.

Recently, I've been amazing at how my gauge differs knitting flat and the round. I've become a swatch believer! :)

Dr. Steph said...

I come and go with swatches. Right now I didn't swatch my summer tweed because I already know that it's will be a lyin' cheat and I'll knit and block as I go to adjust where needed.

But for a new yarn I think swatching is good. I still don't love it.