Saturday, January 10, 2015

Simple Series of Swatches

In January 2013, I drove up to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (The “Soo”) to teach a spinning workshop and a knitting workshop.

And next weekend I get to make this trip again. The Country Spinners & Bridge Shuttlers Guild is hosting me. Classes will be held at Gloria’s Happy Hooker.

On Saturday, I’m teaching Spinning Super Stretchy Wools. I love love LOVE stretchy wools. And I love teaching this workshop.

On Sunday, I’m teaching a new workshop, Matching Yarn to Project & Project to Yarn. Here is the workshop description:

Which yarn should I buy for this sweater (shawl, socks, hat, afghan)? What would be a good knitting project for the yarn I just bought? Which yarn would be a good substitute for the yarn recommended in this pattern? We will address these questions as well as details about yarn properties (fiber content, yarn structure, softness, elasticity, strength, smoothness, sheen, drape, durability, wrinkle), how to read yarn labels, selection of stitch pattern and project structure, gauge, needle selection, and care/cleaning of your knitted projects. All this information will help you find the most suitable yarns for making the most suitable projects.

For one of the workshops I taught on my previous trip to The Soo, I went swatch crazy. I ended up knitting 53 swatches just for that workshop. It was a wonderful experience. I got all kinds of new ideas. I came to appreciate some stitch patterns that I’d previously overlooked. These 53 swatches sparked intense fiber creativity that continues to influence my knit designs.

And it’s happened again. To prepare for next weekend’s knitting workshop, I started knitting swatches. Oh, what fun! What bliss!

For the first series of swatches, I used three skeins of Cascade 220. This is a basic worsted weight wool yarn. I wanted to knit swatches to demonstrate the effect that needle size has on knitted fabrics. So, I knitted a bunch of swatches in garter stitch (knit every row).

All swatches were 30 stitches wide and 59 rows high, not counting cast on and bind off.

I ended up knitting 12 swatches, each on different size needles (all Addi Turbo): US 2 (2.75mm), US 3 (3.25mm), US 4 (3.50mm), US 5 (3.75mm), US 6 (4.00mm), US 7 (4.50mm), US 8 (5.00mm), US 9 (5.50mm), US 10 (6.00mm), US 10 ½ (6.50mm), US 11 (8.00mm), and US 15 (10.00mm).

This may sound like a monotonous task, but I found it intellectually stimulating. Of course I am well aware that needle size influences stitch and row gauge. But the actual knitting made many other things clear to me. There were changes in fabric elasticity, fabric drape, and stitch-to-row ratio. I could see potential design value in each and every swatch.

I encourage you to knit a similar series of swatches. Even if you are a longtime, highly skilled knitter, I think you will learn something new in the knitting of such a simple series of swatches.

I knitted other swatches too. I ended up knitting 21 swatches for next weekend. I am so excited to share them in the workshop.

And I’m so excited to be travelling north in January.

No comments:

Post a Comment