Swatches…So. Many. Swatches

So I know I’ve talked about how swatching is a thing…but I’m not sure if you really believe me.  I’m not kidding when I say that I sometimes spend as long swatching for a project as knitting it (especially for little things like hats).  I mentioned last time that I stared with some swatches to see how I liked the needles and the yarn together.  But that was just the beginning.

I doodled around with the blue yarn for a while, but didn’t like how things were shaping up, so I set it aside (and I did that at night when it was dark, so alas I don’t have a picture of that swatch, you’ll just have to take my word for it). I switched to a different yarn to see if what I had in mind would play better there.

It was better, but not quite right.  Good enough to take some notes though so I can come back and work with it more later.  But not quite what I had in mind, so I tried a few different variations on yet another yarn.  Still no love.

So I scrapped the herringbone thing I was experimenting with and decided to go in a totally different direction.  Might as well keep going with the same yarn though since it was handy.

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.  I mean I know this actually looks sort of like a pile of crumply bug pods.  But there’s potential there.  Enough that I went back to the blue yarn and tried it (with a few tweaks) there.

And now we’re getting somewhere.  This has lots of potential. Enough that it’s worth making the swatch bigger and blocking it to see how it behaves at a larger scale (meaning I’m not done with the swatching, but I’m done with the sort of experimental pre-swatching that comes before I get down to a proper swatch).

So that’s what, five or six different swatches (usually with a few different variations on any given swatch) tried out to get to an idea worth running with and doing a big swatch for.  This is totally normal by the way!  Taken all together, I’m pretty sure there are at least as many stitches in my swatches as there would be in the finished hat.  But the finished hat will be oh so much better because of the swatches, and I’ve learned all sorts of stuff along the way.

A sickness I tell you

So when last we left the hat it had gotten pleasantly tall.  But it whispered to me that we weren’t quite done…it needed one more little thing…

Yes, it’s true, I’ve fallen prey to the dread pompom sickness.

From what I can tell there’s no cure.  Luckily, with the right treatment, it’s a fairly manageable condition.

And the symptoms aren’t even that bad when the yarn is this pretty!

For anyone wondering, the purple one is Entrapment, the pink one just came out this week and is called is Misprision, and the blue one should be out later this summer, possibly even next month.  If you want to hear when it is, you can make that happen here.  And the yarns are all by Madelinetosh (vintage in smokestack for the background, various shades of Tosh Merino Light or DK for the contrasty bits).

Misprision (plus giveaway)

If you’ve been around for a while you know I’m scared of proper colorwork.  The sort where you use two (or more, eep) colors in one row.  But I don’t want to be left out of all that multicolored fun, so I’ve started playing with ways to use two different yarns, but keep it to one yarn per row.  Misprision is one of the results of my experiments (and through Friday, it’s 10% off with the code POMPOM)!

It’s also more fun than it has any right to be.  The background is just lovely, mellow stockinette (can’t ask for anything easier than that). All the action comes from the magic little nubbly bits.  They’re easy (you only work with one color per row), you’ll feel clever while you’re making them (half the look comes from some judiciously placed slip stitches, and I always love how such a simple technique can look so impressive), and if you’re anything like me, you’ll zip through it because you really want to knit just one more row of the doobly bits!

And then of course, there’s the pompom.  Now it’s optional, I promise.  The hat works just as well without the pompom as with it.  But oh my am I ever taken with it!  (If you want to check out my inexplicable descent into pompom madness and see how this one came together, you can follow the whole process over here…don’t judge).

To make this one, you’ll want two yarns.  I used Tosh Vintage in an imminently respectable gray (smokestack) for the background, and Tosh Merino Light in a much more enthusiastic pink (alizarin) for the contrast.  This is the perfect way to play with color if you’re a bit wary of it (that would be me).  You can pick something fairly wild for the contrast and the structure of the stitch will help it look amazing.  Just keep the background mellow and you can go crazy on the stripes!

I’ve been loving the Madelinetosh yarn combos for this one, so I’ve got a set of the yarns I used here to send off to one lucky knitter. I want to know how you feel about pompoms.  Love them? Think they’re ridiculous? Haven’t tried it yet but find yourself oddly intrigued?  There’s no right or wrong answer, I just like to know how you feel!  Leave a comment and someone will get a happy package in the mail!

And for everyone I can’t send yarn to (I’m just not cool enough to get yarn to everyone, sorry!), I’ve got a coupon for this pattern.  You can use the code POMPOM to get 10% off the hat between now and Friday.  Just put Misprision in your ravelry cart, click on the ‘use a coupon code’ button, and type in the code POMPOM.  You’ll see the change in price reflected right away.

Oh, and if you like this pattern, you might like Entrapment, too.  It was the first in this set of colorwork-without-the-work experiments and uses some of the same ideas!

Comments left between now and the end of the day (eastern time) Friday, May 5, 2017 will be entered to win.  I’ll pick a winner, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to send yarn their way.  Be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winners).  If I do email you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them. Sorry, but I can only ship physical prizes to US addresses.

Tall enough

So we’ve talked about this before, but it’s helpful enough it bears repeating.  If you’re doing a hat with fast decreases (and a lot of mine use those), my favorite way to know if it’s tall enough is to get all the stitches on two needles and try it on.

Fast decreases distort the fabric (and that distortion uses up some of the fabric you’ve made), and arranging it like this does a good job of mimicking that distortion.  If it’s tall enough on two needles, it will be tall enough when you’ve done the decreases.

Here I needed a few more rows, but it’s way easier to try it on this way to find that out than to do the decreases first and then have to rip back.

Speaking of, that’s rather nifty I think!  Standard disclaimer about how it will be rather more tidy once it’s blocked, but I’m quite taken with it!



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It grew

So there’s this nifty thing where, if you keep working on something, it will usually grow.  That does seem to be happening here.  The hat is getting markedly taller.

It still needs another inch or two (I have a few things in mind for the decreases here, but any of them will need the hat to be pretty tall first), but the end is in sight (this is the inside, because some folks have asked…though honestly that feels a tiiiiiiny bit like asking to peek in my medicine cabinet…).

Then?  Then I think maybe it will need a pom pom…