11 June 2012

Swatches

The TNNA show is coming up later this month. Because I'm now teaching and designing (and being a guild president), I sometimes get to see several sides of the same event. For example, at STITCHES South I've seen the Market being set-up and taken down because I've been involved a little with the guild booth. While I won't be attending TNNA, one of the behind-the-scenes things that becomes an in-front-of-the-scenes thing is the Great Wall of Yarn. This is a chance for the yarn companies to show off their new offerings and get some creative ideas into the minds of the shop owners who are attending the show.

Barry Klein from Trendsetter asked the STITCHES teachers if we would be willing to make swatches. This is a great chance for us to play with new yarns -- some barely on the market. And it is also a chance to show the various yarn companies what we can do. I volunteered to make four swatches. So here is what I did.
First up is Moonshine from Crystal Palace Yarns. Shiny! Sparkly. And it has a glimmer that reminds me of frosted lipsticks or creme eyeshadow. Right away I was thinking this is a yarn for a nighttime shawl, especially since the 73% nylon will mean lots of drape. The yarn does have a strand of kid mohair to give it a little halo. The silver metallic occurs in pops, so it looks somewhat like random beads. I swatched this yarn in many different patterns before settling on this version of the Matting Stitch from p.177 of the Potter Craft 400 Knitting Stitches dictionary. I picked this because it involves lots of knit stitches and purl stitches just did not look that great in this yarn. I adjusted the stitch pattern on the right side knit rows so that the stitches weave in and out. In the original, the pattern leans in long diagonals to the upper right. I also used an i-cord cast-on, i-cord selvedge, and i-cord cast-off (which was then grafted closed) to add i-cord all around. This would be a nice yarn for a stockinette-based shawl pattern.
For the second swatch I decided to knit a Tetra in an alternative stitch pattern. The yarn is TY-DY Socks Skinny Stripes from Knit One Crochet Too. The square was knit from the center out with double-increases, then folded over and grafted closed. I tried the trick of changing from knits to purls based on the color changes in the yarn. This is just random welts of reverse-stockinette across the stockinette. This is a thin yarn -- thin enough that I used a US 1/ 2.25 mm needle. Since this is sock yarn, the final fabric has lots of elasticity. While it would take awhile to knit a large garment with this, it would be lovely for a project where you want fine-gauge knitting. The self-stripe is designed for socks, so if you wanted to use it in something other than hand wear or footwear, you'd probably want to work in modules or columns to prevent the stripe from breaking up too badly.
The third swatch was the biggest challenge. First off, the yarn itself is kinda-sorta listed in Ravelry. Yes, there is a Bergere de France Cosmos yarn in the Ravelry database, but it is listed as discontinued and has a different composition, appearance, and grist than this yarn. This yarn is not currently listed on Bergere de France's website, either. So, I picked the Cosmos that's in Ravelry and I'll change the links later if the opportunity appears. The yarn is a challenge because it is a bouclé with both a gray and a white component held together with a thin white binder thread. The two colors and texture mean that stitch patterns will disappear with this yarn. No sense knitting cables or knit-purl patterns. I didn't want to just knit a plain swatch of stockinette or garter. My solution was to knit some bands of garter, stockinette, and a simple eyelet (yo, k2tog) and to work diagonally across the swatch. I cast on one stitch, increased at both ends every row, then decreased at both ends every row. This is the classic shaping for a dishcloth. But at least it lent a little interest to the project. And I am sure this yarn would be awesome as trim on a hat, mittens, or jacket/coat. Or maybe use it for the trim on the top of a Christmas stocking?

Update: This new version of Cosmos is now listed in Ravelry as Bergere de France Cosmos-2012.
My final swatch is very much the opposite. This is Rowan Baby Merino Silk Dk. The wool and the silk take the dye just a little differently, so the color isn't flat. This is a great yarn for knitting cables and texture patterns. I fiddled a bit with knitting ribbles or double-knitting, but I was running out of time and these swatches need to get into the mail. So I opted for pattern 111 from 1000 Knitting Patterns Book by Nihon Vogue. This is a nice tome of Japanese stitch patterns, 700 in knitting and 300 in crochet. And as the book just arrived last week shipped from Japan itself, I was happy to justify my purchase! The pattern is an interesting adaptation of argyle. And while the fabric isn't quite 100% reversible -- the traveling cables don't pop as well on the background of purls -- the back is nice enough that you might call this a double-faced fabric. The reverse side certainly isn't ugly. This is basically a very nice sock yarn and would be lovely for fine-gauge sweaters and shawls, too.

It was a very interesting challenge for me to try to show these very different yarns off to their best advantages. I hope I've succeeded!

1 comment:

Pam Cornutt said...

Your swatches look lovely. You appear to have shown each yarn to its advantage!
Pam
PS I bet the merino/silk feels wonderful :-)