swatch out—scarves coming through

Posted on Posted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

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 snow shawl square was off the needles, i found myself in a weird state of mind and needing something fresh and new to occupy my thoughts.

and well, 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 could just swatch i think, though on second thought hehe, mebbe not. i’m still a slut for the 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, and that i have lots of laceweight options sitting here to play with, i set to working out some possibilities. 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 (and then immediately contacted a few dyers to see what they might have that will work, hehe).

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, i think, to successfully using these yarns as a medium.

and then, 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. and 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 ok), 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.
this 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

it’s 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. this color is deep and rich, reminding me of dense, dark clay (seems far away but it’s certain to be here again), so 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

and 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.

ok 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 til i looked at the photos just now.

44 thoughts on “swatch out—scarves coming through

  1. i’m loving all the swatches. the melosa is absolutely fab, and i look forward to seeing the evolution of the large leaf lace. it’s fascinating to see what works in a certain yarn. quite inspiring!

  2. Thanks so much for a post that “explains” why a pattern made with substituted yarn (at the same gauge) may be so disappointing. Anne C.’s sweater/knitting is beautiful. And I’m still hoping that you will post a pattern for David’s cargo-inspired sweater in Briar Rose cranberry yarn.

  3. Lovely swatches and so interesting about the finer yarns. I have some merino lace weight from Heirloom Knitting in the UK and now I know what it will become.

  4. The large leaf lace wins me right over, I must admit. It is simple, elegant, unexpected and could be luscious as spring/summer or fall colorations.

  5. I have to say I completely agree with everyone who loves the large leaf lace. When I saw the picture with all the swatches, my eyes just went straight to the large leaf swatch. Strangely though, it did lose a little of it’s appeal in the close up, but every time I go back to look at the group of swatches the large leaf still catches my attention.

  6. Wow! And I thought I’d have to make a case for the large leaf lace!! I think that stitch in some kind of bronzy color would look just like birch leaf skeletons. Well, that doesn’t sound appealing, does it? But there’s something about a leaf that’s turned to fine lace in the fall that I just love.

  7. AND, yet another vote for the large leaf pattern. It really does catch your eye. I think it’s the subtle shadow that outlines each leaf that draws you to it.
    Thanks for a beautiful display.
    Anne C’s sweeater is lovely..nice color choices too!
    Thanks, Anne’s!

  8. Your swatches are much more tempting than any box of candy I’ve seen lately! I’m going for the design in
    FF alpaca laceweight. Yum-o!

  9. The great big leaves are fascinating. Very bold indeed! But I wonder if they are too much for a little nothing. (Though if anyone could pull it off, it would be you.)

  10. Those swatches are beautiful! I think my personal favorite is the pinwheeling one – I like the motion it suggests.

    The one with the lanas puras has such IMPACT – it’s fabu!

  11. I love swatching too, call me weird, you will not be the first one! Do you know Nona knits? last year she started a project a swatch a day and had a blog dedicated to it, unfortunately she stopped it about mid way.

    I see flowers in the large photo of the fearless fibers alpaca swatch with the motif you did in the 2 different yarns that are not there at all in the other yarn, I love it!

  12. The swatches are all gorgeous! The large leaf lace one (looks like that one is pretty popular here!) reminds me a bit of an extreme close-up of a fern frond… know what I mean? It’s just lovely and really DOES catch the eye. As does the pinwheeling stuff.

    Neato! Can’t wait to see where you go from here 🙂

  13. I like how you explore with swatching. You encourage me to explore. The difference between the alpaca laceweight and the merino singles is striking. I am a newbie spinner so I find the differences fascinating. I was drawn to the last swatch – the leaf lace. I see strength and energy, like the leaves are shrugging and unfurling (couldn’t think of better words). Thanx for sharing your swatches and your thoughts.

  14. Helloooo!! I’ve been gone, sick, stranded. . .more on that later. I love the Snow Shawl! Outstanding and just amazing. I’m excited about the new Little Nothing! I like the leaves as well, but I think they look a little like Native American flints! Sorry! I see them! You have flints lying around everywhere you are, too! I love the socks–already have the pattern. You’ve been a busy girl!

  15. I absolutely adore the dicentra in that first (pinwheel?) motif. Love, love, love it. And I think that the first motif in the second yarn is so cheery! More scarves to knit… This can’t be a bad thing, can it?

  16. Holy cow! Does Anne C knit in her sleep? Now I must put that one on my TO-DO list, as well! Oh good, one more excuse to shop for yarn!

    Anne, I do love your designs and your swatches are like a box of truffles. Wish I had your talent and skill!

  17. i can enjoy swatches as long as i’m not trying to get gauge with something – although i’ve gotten pretty good at guess what needle size will actually get gauge for me. but it can be fun to experiment with patterns and motifs without actually having to make a commitment to a full project. great for startitis…

  18. The dicentra swatch is making me drool and drool. :p~~~~

    All your swatches are absolutely gorgeous as are all your shawls. I’ve been dropping not so subtle hints to my hubby to get me one of your shawl kits for my upcoming birthday.

  19. Those swatches are fabulous! I totally agree with you about how well the variegation of the Melosa works with this stitch pattern. I’m also very curious to see what you’ll do with the large leaf lace: this motif seems quite unusual to me, and it really caught my eye. I’m sure that the piece it will be a part of will be absolutely stunning!

  20. Hmmm, I wonder why I kind of feel REAL guilty right now – could it be b/c I feel I should swatch more? Seriously, your post is inspiring to explore lace knitting in a really meaningful context.

  21. The only person I know who likes swatching is you. It is great that you do it all for us. They are all very beautiful.

  22. I definetly view swatching as a spectators sport, and in my world you are the unchallenged world champion.
    I really love your lace samples, I can see them all in scarfs or beautiful light shawls… can’t wait to see what you are going to do with them 😉

  23. The dicentra pinwheel really calls my name! And agree about the large leaf motif is very interesting. And the Melosa is fun and the fearless fibers is beautiful too… Guess I love ’em all! LOL

  24. lovely swatches, all of them. It’s really interesting how the pattern changes according to different yarns. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with them!

  25. What a wonderful batch of Little-Nothings-to-be! I have a lace yarn simply begging for the (dicentra) pinwheeling pattern – although it’s a hard choice between that and the first swatch.

    It’s helpful when you talk about why a certain yarn/pattern combo is successful. And so is seeing the same pattern in two different yarns. Thanks for letting us in on your design process!

  26. Dark clay bricks set in a great pattern, couldn’t help think of bricks once you said “clay”…
    love the aqua swatches…the colour alone gets my attention immediately. the winner though for me is the mini faroese…the large leaf lace. triple L for sure!! “Troiselle”???
    all gorgeous as usual dear Anne!!

  27. Anne, this is such a fascinating post… I think it’s so interesting how the same stitch can look so different in different yarns and, conversely, how the same yarn can look so different when knit up in different stitch patterns. You wouldn’t think by looking at them, aside from the color that the first two swatches are in the same yarn – the first one has such clean lines and lovely strong motifs and the second is so hazy and ethereal and ever-changing. I love them both! And, like everyone else it seems, I love the large leaf lace too – it’s very striking and eye-catching. I can’t wait to see what you make out of it!

  28. i think the dark red ones are my favs. the pinwheel one seems to be both solid and fluid – i like it! the leaf one would probably look good in a variegated yarn mixing all the fall colors…although that might be too predictable too! thanks for swatching for us 😉

  29. This was fascinating to read. I had fun picking out my favorite swatches. So now I’m all inspired to swatch myself. Only it seems to take me too long.

  30. Thanks for the lace tutorial—it is really fascinating to see how (and why) one yarn may be so much better suited to a pattern than another. But they are all beautiful.

    And I agree with Ronni—it makes me want to start swatching, too, but it takes me too long!

  31. I really love the leaf pattern I could see it in a nice big triangle shawl in coppers and oranges and rusts…. I don’t even like those colors but I would knit that shawl in those colors…. it could be the fact that it’s fall here… I don’t swatch… EVER… I just knit. I never liked the sienna sweater but now I have added it to my never ending que that looks fabulous and very pretty I can easily see it in a deep ocean with navy collar…well what do you know I have enough yarn in those colors!….

  32. Ohhhh my fave of all the swatches is the melosa. GORGEOUS!! The colors DO work well w/the stitch pattern.

    That Sienna Cardigan has been in my queue since that magazine came out! I love how she did the two colors!! It looks great!

  33. Excellent swatches all! The first is really perfect for the yarn and the color. The softness of the yarn and color needs the crispness of the pattern motif or it would all be wishy-washy.

    I also love the last, the big leaf, but I agree that an even darker color could be more striking. I picture a nearly midnight purple.

    I’ve been hesitant to knit lace so open, but I see from your swatches that I need to get over that.

  34. Oh, please feel free to consign us all to a future of microscopic stitches on surgical needles! Your swatches are beautiful.

  35. V. Nice! Any chance you could share the source for the pattern of the leaf swatch? It is just what I need for some silk 20/2 I have in a tangerine color.
    Thanks!

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