Swatching

It appears one cannot have a knitting blog without posting at least once about the joys and perils of swatching.

I am not a swatcher. BUT, I am completely ok with pulling out a ball’s worth of project on the discovery that it is going to be too big (it’s never too small).

You would think that, by now, I would have just learnt to go down a needle size, but it’s not every project! and, to be honest, if i do swatch, I almost always get gauge. SWATCHES LIE!. I think when i knit a swatch, I’m so keen to get it done that i knit furiously and therefore my tension is tighter. Also, I tend to knit on circs, and when i swatch, the stitches stay mostly on the needles and i am SURE this affects the overall tension. So instead I tend to just start knitting, wait until i’m a decent way in (1/2 – 1 ball usually) and then measure. If it’s way off, I’ll start again. If it’s slightly off, I’ll persevere, maybe try it on if i can to see how it’s going.

Then of course there’s the garment that’s perfect as one knits it, but too big once blocked. But generally i find after a wear or two they spring back, not to mention the fact that again, if i knit and wash a swatch, it’s usually fine, but doesn’t take into account the weight of the garment as a whole. Then there’s patterns and knit flat/ knit in the round considerations and i just can’t be doing with it all!! There’s always lovely friends of all shapes and sizes to gift to if worse comes to worst. Also? Knitting can be pulled out and started again. Not ideal with a cardi or jumper, but eh, life rarely gives you do-overs, so look at it in the best light (after swearing a lot)!

This is a tale of a swatch though.

Yes, I swatched! but not so much for gauge, as for colour!

I’m planning on doing little birds by Ysolda Teague. I bought the pattern ages ago when she was donating funds to help Haiti. Since I’m in the UK and my local LYS has Jamieson and Smith shetland, I thought I’d pick out some colours and if not start it while i’m here, at least have it ready to go. I bought a few colours to play with about a year ago (whoops) and finally got around to the onerous task of swatching.

Ignoring the fact that my birdies are completely screwed up (this was more about tension and colour than getting the pattern right) I’m really happy with this.

First tension – I’m getting 14 stitches over 2″ in colour work – the required amount is 28″ over 10cm. Booyah! Also, if anything my tension is a bit tight on this, so it will be a nice change to be able to knit the size i think i am for once!

secondly, colour. I bought a couple of different colours to play with, with the intention of doing the colour scheme I did above, but if it didn’t work, to pick the two or three colours I liked. I honestly thought I would be doing the 2 different colour birdies with just the one colour ‘leaves’. I wanted a bluey green for the leaves (those who know me will not be surprised by that) so thought I’d go a nice contrasty purple for the birds. The middle colour is much more in keeping with the tone of the purple that it shows in the photo. It’s less red and the purple is not quite so blue. So the effect is a row of birdies and leave in a rich, dark colour, then a row of birdies and leaves in a slightly less saturated colour. I really like the effect in real life. In this photo it’s a more stark contrast.

Here’s another photo…

Everyone i’ve showed it to in person thinks that it looks great with the four colours. In the photos i’m not so sure it works. Which is a pity, because i really wanted your opinions on it!! So if you want to give an opinion, just take my word that the raspberry colour is not as rusty as it looks here, but a pinker, slightly less saturated colour.

when I first knit the row of teal, I wasn’t sure against the neutral background, but actually it looks great.

Oh why is this so hard!

help!

Happy New Year!

It’s 2012. but you knew that, because you are on the interwebs, which means you are looking at some kind of electronic equipment that knows the date and time. But i digress

Happy New Year my lovely crafterly friends, from near and far – WordPress tells me that i have readers all over the world, but particularly from the UK (see you there soon!) and US! so Hi! I also had 47 SF cable car’s worth of people traipse across my site. which is lovely! i also just realised that may well be the first time i have ever written or perhaps even read the word traipse. I had absolutely no idea how to spell it, but i guessed and I think i’m right, so yay!

My year of being a Notorious sock knitter with the Rockin’ Sock club has come to a close. My last installment for the year has been my favourite – which is good. It’s a bit of a pity, because i found the experience to be a little underwhelming. I didn’t LOVE any of the colourways this year, though i had a lot of respect for the dyeing, especially with aubergenius and pinky swear (Jan) which were such a perfect match. The patterns were a bit hit and miss for me. The ones i liked i felt I had seen similar things before and the ones i felt were really original didn’t grab me at all. And while the community were lovely and welcoming, i wasn’t as involved as i could have been. But still, I have done it and i can cross it off my knitting bucket list!

Comfort and Joy - the November (and final) instalment of RSC 2011

I finally finished my wallflower socks`, and before the end of the year too! They took up the last 3 months of my ‘sock a month’ year, so i ended up 1 pair behind (i finished an extra pair in january, though i started them in december ’10). I have the remaining two ‘parcels’ of yarn+pattern there, and one i will definitely take with me to the land of the engers when i head to the UK in late Feb.

I should also add that these were only my second stranded sock and my first time using wollmeise!

FINALLY! Wallflower, but Stephanie van der Linden, in Wollmeise (Stella Polaris) and an undyed merino cashmere from Wired for Fibre

Yes, I have my UK Visa and i’m heading off and it is STUPID the amount of time i spend planning what yarn is coming with me, what will go happily to storage and what will go to mum so she can post it to me along with mail, summer clothes and other goodies. With all the other planning i should be doing, this is taking up a disproportionate amount of my brain time^. I am going to be taking a lot/getting a lot sent because with my VAST stash (256 yarns stashed on rav and that’s not all, though take into account there are double ups due to multiple colours being grouped together for the one project) it seems stupid that precious money that will absolutely be needed for expensive London rent and food and WARM CLOTHES should get spend on yarn to replace what i already have. SO! my plan is to arrange for yarn that has maximum time to weight ratio attached to find its way to me in London. this means a lot of my sock yarn and laceweight. I have been using my rav queue to whittle down pattern to  yarn matches and have about 94756924569276924753* shawls and socks ready to be knitted. This is good too because it means some of my handspun and souvenir yarn will finally see the light of day as a FO.

amongst all this crafting and planning christmas and a bunch of birthdays happened. I didn’t really do the crafting presents for everyone that i’ve done the last few years. a couple of reasons for this but the big one was ALL THE BABIES! i spent the time i would normally be making xmas presents doing things for small people instead. (there are more baby knits on the way too!)

I did however get some gift spinning done and had a few presents already made for people – mum got some of my handdyed yarn and helen got a hat` i made for her back in march.

Here are the spins, in order, for nett, katie and mel:

Super Angorino from Ixchel (50% angora, 50% superfine merino), spun 2 ply, 130m, 50g, around a fingering weight.

Merino and Carbonized bamboo from Ewe Give Me the Knits, n-plied, 135m, 100g, around a DK weight.

Wensleydale from Ixchel, 2ply, 85m and 100g around a DK weight.

The wensleydale i’m particlarly proud of – i think it’s one of my most even and beautiful spins yet!

^TBH I think a lot of my brain power has gone on this plan because in the looming face of moving to a whole new country, this is a manageable problem

*figure may be an exaggeration.

` ravelry link