Swatch Out - Scarves Coming Through

I know you all love swatching. C’mon, admit it—it’s fun right? no?? Hmm, you seem to love it plenty when I do it, and you can just watch—swatching as a spectator sport then, ok.

Once the Snowflakes in Cedarwoods Lace Shawl was off the needles, I found myself in a weird state of mind and needing something fresh and new to occupy my thoughts. Swatching always comforts me when I feel like that. Swatching is probably the most interesting part of my job, especially when I’m in an exploratory mood. I think I could just swatch. Though, on second thought hehe, maybe not. I still love a nice FO. 

Being that everyone seems to be loving the whole Little Nothings concept and that it’s time we had another one in the works, I set to working out some possibilities. I have lots of laceweight options sitting here to play with. I think it’s fair to say that I’m as excited as anyone about these scarves.

This group represents a huge amount of self-restraint on my part, by the way. Believe me, I tried many, many more stitches in these yarns and I loved a lot of them. But, I weeded my experiments down to what works best in these particular colors and yarn weights, saving the others for future opportunities.

Can I also just say that I take back any innuendo I made the other day about fine laceweight not being quite my thing? Cuz, actually, I'm in love. Again. (Don’t tell David.) No worries—I’m not about to abandon variety or consign us all to a future of microscopic stitches on surgical needles.

I’m just saying I have passed to the other side of my argument once I found the right “voice” for the yarns. The scale and tension integral to the stitch patterns themselves are crucial to successfully using these yarns as a medium.

There is the fussiness factor. You would think that a fine yarn would be a good medium with which to knit larger motifs with a little more detail, but not necessarily so. I found that simplicity and strong lines go a lot further in the impact department than mere size. I had to be careful that the lines were crisp. Soft edges blurred things so much that the fabric looked messy to me. In a shawl that might translate ok since you’d be stepping back more to look at it. But in a little scarf, I like to achieve the sense of a strong motif at close range (I realize that there could be any number of arguments to toss around here, I’m just talking about what I prefer).

In addition, I insist that these scarves be knittable on a needle size which we can enjoy (anything I’d knit socks on, or larger, is okay), and that the stitch patterns are fun and not too fiddly to execute. After all, we don’t need another chore, do we?

Let’s look at the swatches in the Fearless Fibers Alpaca Laceweight first.
Pear and Trellis is my hands-down favorite for the yarn and color:

I just love it. This arrangement of stitches has such a simple, formal elegance I can hardly stand it—it’s positively roman and the color supports it so well. I almost didn’t swatch this one, too. But I kept coming back to it, lured by a feeling of longing that made me knit it (some day there will be a home for aging, babbling knitters, and i will be queen there, i know).

I tried a bunch of stitch patterns with this yarn and the only other swatch that comes close for me is this one for the Boing scarf:

Boing is very delicate and pretty; I really love it too. However, when I tried out the same stitch with the Lanas Puras Melosa Laceweight yarn:

I knew that for me, the expression was much more vibrant and springy. The yarn is similar in weight—a tad heavier—but with completely different characteristics. Here they are side by side:

For one thing, the Melosa is merino wool, and for another it is a singles. Both those factors make it loftier—it feels juicy-fat next to the alpaca, and spreads out the stitches differently. The drape is completely different from the alpaca—not nearly as fluid, rather, it has substance, which translates to more stitch definition. I think the variegation really works with this stitch, too—it’s quite striking—so it’s a keeper.

Next, I tried out some Dicentra Alpaca Laceweight to swatch the Alhambra Scarf. This color is deep and rich, reminding me of dense, dark clay (seems far away but it’s certain to be here again). I looked for patterns that somehow brought out that quality in the yarn.

First, we have another abstract motif with beautiful pinwheeling lines. Again, very roman—very simple and formal. I just love how this stitch works in the laceweight. I’ve knit it in heavier yarn before and the difference is incredible. I love how this deep clay color works together with the shapes in the fabric, making it look like very old tile or ceramic ornamentation.

Then, I tried this large leaf lace, because the yarn is also the color of fall.

I like this too. But, I would really like to see this stitch in either a pale color or something very dark, so I’m going to re-do it in other yarn choices (I’m looking for something a little more unexpected). I like it in this color but I like the first swatch more. And wow, what a motif, eh? That is strong I tell you. I love the irregular edges and for me it works especially well in the sheer fabric.

I have also continued working on the sweater swatching to amuse myself and to have fun with the squishy chubby yarn. The last thing I did last night was rip out my initial large swatch so I could do another pass. It looked great but the motif was too large, so I’m going to re-do it and scale everything back a bit. I want to mix a knit/purl fabric with some cabling. Just you wait—I have a feeling you’re gonna like that one too.

Okay, now on a completely different note, I have to share how annoyed and jealous we all were on Monday with Anne c., who showed up to class in yet another new sweater.

I KNOW! She just brought a new sweater a couple of weeks ago. We hate her too. But seriously, isn’t that cute? It’s the Siena cardigan from Interweave Knits, Fall or Winter 2006, we think. And her collar is not knit crooked—Anne would never be satisfied with that. It just got knocked askew when we were all pawing at it, and I didn’t notice until I looked at the photos just now.

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