More Swatches

No really…swatches are all I’m knitting these days.

I’ve probably explained this before, but for me a book usually goes 1) have an idea, 2) source yarn, 3) swatch and write patterns, 4) send yarn and patterns off to magical stunt knitters to turn into projects, 5) get the patterns into proper book format and have them edited, 6) get projects back and take photos, 7) more editing, 8) printing.  Now there’s more to it than that (I left out the traditional ‘all my ideas are crap’ crisis that invariably happens somewhere in the middle), and there’s some overlap (for example, a few of the pieces for Curls 3 are actually already finished while the last few patterns haven’t yet been written).  But that’s the general process.  And now? Now I’m in that swatch swatch swatch and write patterns stage.

One of the swatches I’m totally happy with (meaning it’s ready to move onto being knit and formatted and edited and generally made official) is this giant cable in Bijou Basin Ranch’s Tibetan Dream.  I’m a sucker for a big cable, and this one goes together in a sort of unusual way that’s a lot of fun to do.

And I’m also loving this simple little bit of magic in Miss Babs Sojurn. The yarn is so amazing I didn’t want to mess around with it too much…just that simple little braided line is enough (plus you get to feel all clever for making your knitting turn and go sideways…I promise it’s not as tricky as it looks).

They either are or will soon be with knitters, and I’ll be working on cooking up schemes for more of the yarns.  If you want to check them out (or see the earlier swatches), you can find all the Curls 3 posts here.


So you know how sometimes I say something like ‘this project has big stretches of reverse stockinette so you may want to consider a more subdued yarn than you might otherwise use’?  Like with the top of the foot on Cataphyll or the background on Enchase or the heel and background on Greenhorn? Yeah well let’s look at why.

Take a look at this and notice the difference between the stockinette side (that’s the bit that’s all knits…the bottom in this picture) and the reverse stockinette side (that’s the bit that’s all purls…the top in this picture).

Trace one of the rainbow bits on the stockinette side.  See how the colors are nestled up next to each other and you pretty much get a solid line of color?

Ok now look at it on the reverse stockinette side. Because of the way knitting works, the purl side has the colors much more jumbled up.  Instead of seeing one solid line of color, you get a row of little bumps of color, then two rows of little bumps of gray, then another row of bumps of color.

Now there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s how knit fabric works.  But it does mean that colors that hang out tidily together on the front will be more interspersed with the background color on the reverse.  That can be awesome.  But if you’re not expecting it, it can be jarring especially in a project where you have both kinds of fabric next to each other.

So my approach, if it’s a project with large stretches of reverse stockinette (like a big cable on a reverse stockinette background) is to go with a more mellow yarn.  And while I won’t go so far as to recommend you do the same (we all know I’m more reserved with color than some of you), I do recommend getting in the habit of looking at both sides of your swatch and seeing how the colors stack up on the reverse stockinette side.

Oh, and because someone will ask, the yarn is the Stormy Day colorway from The Lemonade Shop on their DK base.


Oh my goodness how have I not shown you guys this…

So you know how I’ve been showing you all sorts of yarn for Curls 3?  Yeah…well that doesn’t just sit around being yarn, it gets turned into swatches.  Lots and lots and lots of swatches!

That’s the Squish DK by Spun Right Round in Frost (and that’s a super reversible stitch, which is always lovely for curls).

And then how about a bit of Magnificent DK from Knit Circus in Brass and Steam (and yes, that is a circular needle…what is the world coming to!).

And last but not least how about a bit of Cheshire cat by Wonderland Yarns in their Yellow to Fuchsia color morph and Goat’s Beard.

I guess the pace of swatching has just outpaced the speed of blogging!  Which is actually a lovely reminder for me to let you know that a lot of this stuff shows up on my instagram account before it’s on the blog.  It tends to be a bit faster over there, so if you want to see things a bit closer to real time, that’s the place to do it!


So I feel like I’m having a ‘colors without colorwork’ sort of phase.  There’s the green and gray wavy set I just finished, and the stripey pink and purple business I just put up for testing, and of course there’s Pelagic.  But I didn’t feel quite done.

So then there was this.

Which turned into this.

Which then turned into this.

Yarn is Madeline Tosh, Merino DK in Flashdance (purple) and Vintage in Smokestack (gray), and I’m expecting great things!


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We’re going to consider this a lesson on the virtues of swatching.  I’m dying to do something with this yarn (from Spun Right Round, the color name is Bug Jar, because I know one of you is going to want it too).  But speckled yarn seems to require a bit of extra care in pattern selection.

speckles 1It seems that things with a lot of stockinette show it off best.  But as much as I like wearing things with great huge swaths of stockinette, I can’t actually stand knitting it.  So the most low key way I could think of to break it up was a bit of slip/cross action.  But even sticking to that, there’s still some room for variation.

speckles 2I think I’ve settled on a version I’m happy with.  I’ll cast on when my shiny new needles get here (I’m having a fight with the needles up there and they need to spend some time in time out).  I’ve got oodles of yarn, so I’ll likely do a little set.  I just need to decide if it wants to be a hat and cowl or a hat and mitts or maybe mitts and a cowl…