with several traveling projects all set to go for my upcoming san diego trip, i took the last few days to do some swatching for future projects to begin when i get back.
(my coffee table always looks a mess when i’m on a swatching tear—piled with yarns and charts, needles all over the place. not that’s it’s SO much neater at other times . . .)
i’ve had several yarns lined up to work with and many ideas zinging around in my head for a while—after a bit, the noise just gets to be too much and i feel the need to create some order, you know? so, away we went.
i’m not one to necessarily play with yarn in the order i receive it. rather, i like to square away the most solid ideas first. when i saw jennifer’s sunna merino/cashmere/silk fingering yarn at MDS&W last week, i knew it was exactly the yarn i’d been hunting for a certain project that’s been marinating in my head for some time. let’s back up just a little . . .
remember the hayrick socks? i love these socks—ever since i knit the first leg of the first one, i’ve wanted to create a vintage sweater shirt in this stitch pattern and rib combination. just the fronts in the pattern and the rest in stockinette, with ribbed edges and collar—something akin to this, but different color, texture, etc. and probably no pocket (at least, not there).
can you see it?
anyway, finding the yarn was a challenge—when i first began the hayrick pattern, i had the same issue; namely, the yarn needed to be lightweight and soft, but have a bouncy twist to provide great stitch definition for this subtle stitch pattern. oh, and not too colorful or contrasty—the motif can’t stand up to that. and something with a bit of luxury would be nice to wear next to the skin (but truly, a bonus).
so for the sweater, i wanted all that, PLUS i wanted a slightly heavier yarn. but not too heavy; i wanted to pump up the scale of the texture just a little.
oh, and forget about forgetting it—this sweater idea kept nagging at me and nagging at me; it wasn’t letting go. i kept my eyes peeled all winter for something suitable and was just about to settle for something else, when jennifer lured me into her booth at the fair and pressed several skeins of sunna into my hands
along with a couple of skeins of birte, its DK equivalent.
i knew the hand of the yarn was what i was looking for; i couldn’t wait to try it out. after clearing my desk of all manner of chores for the first part of the week and getting my travel knitting in order, i set about on thursday night to wind up the yarns and cast on
the first thing i did was swatch the sunna in the most-likely-to work colorway, ancient stones. i love everything about these swatches—the luxurious hand of the fabric, the stitch definition, the color, the weight, the incredibly consistent stockinette (that’s important in this piece)—everything is just what i’ve been looking for.
isn’t it yummy??
then i washed the swatches and was even more impressed.
first of all, even when it was sopping wet, the swatch remained consistent and elastic, with great recovery—i mean real BOING factor, you know? i don’t even know how many time i’ve seen that before.
and the stockinette texture? shut UP.
that fabric is so worthy of being a design feature. i was totally sold—this is the yarn. but . . .
there were four other colorways and you know i wasn’t going to leave those stones unturned . . . so more swatching ensued. seriously, i was going to stop after my three most-likely-to-succeed colors—i was. but then i thought of you and how you’d want to see it all, so i kept going.
i was dying to see the rosewood and green velvet colorways knit up; i had a feeling they’d work really well, too. these i had only in the birte DK weight so that gave me a chance to know for sure whether the heavier yarn was out.
it is equally yummy, but alas, too heavy—the scale of the motif and bulk of this fabric is just wrong for a shirt, but i adore these two rich colors. i am going to have a tough choice in choosing between the three.
(secretly, this green velvet colorway is my very favorite with its hints of aqua and gold, and the red is to die for, but i think the ancient stones is more “vintage”. oh damn, i love all three and want one of each; what a pig!)
i had two more colors in sunna fingering that i liked a lot in the skein, but suspected they’d have too much contrast for the motif to shine through.
sure enough, connemorra and acadia did not work well with the stitch pattern, which responds better to a very subtle approach; they’ll be better for another accessory or sock design.
and don’t even ask me how many different needle sizes i tried—it’s important to get it just so; i wanted nice stitch definition, but soft drape as well (since it’s a shirt), so i played with needles a lot.
when i get back from vacation, i’ll figure out the garment design and start the sweater sometime in the next month. as long as i know it’s ready to go, i can begin any time. i always pictured this as a shirt which buttons form hem to neck, but after wearing the henley and loving it, i’m considering another placket front. we can vote on that if you want . . .
now, that’s just the swatching i did for one project—wanna see the others?
i LOVE this one—just love it. this is the yarn for the next baby blanket; MCN luxury from fearless fibers, a delicious merino/cashmere/nylon blend in the chastity colorway. is this not the most cheerful color combo? i have to smile every time i look down at it in my hands.
in fact, i was a teensy bit concerned that i’d chosen to go with too much color, but when i see it knit up, i’m ga-ga over it—it has a wonderful, over-the-top, jump-for-joy feeling. how could a baby wrapped in these colors not be happy?
i can’t wait to start knitting this project; it’s going to be my sunshine knitting. i’m playing with rosebud motifs here, tossed across the surface, but i’ve not really discovered anything i love to put with them (that eyelet motif on the bottom of the swatch is definitely out; i don’t like those textures together).
as soon as i hit on the right story, this is going on the needles. karolyn already has the same yarn in the meadow colorway for a test knit in a greeny yellow that’s equally cheerful.
i haven’t washed the swatch yet, because i need to try out some more stitches, but the hand of the fabric is lovely—soft and dense with lots of body (as you can see) which translates to excellent stitch definition. this surprised me a bit because the yarn is so soft, but i’m impressed enough to try it on a bigger needle, even—if successful, this will reduce the weight of the blanket, which is important to me.
quite a while back, i showed some preliminary swatching for a new lace shawl and now that i have the actual yarn in hand—kami from fiber isle—i’m working on swatching that too. this is actually the project i’d like to get on the needles first, but which is a bit more challenging to compose and requires more concentration.
the yarn is gorgeous—a bison/bamboo/merino blend in antique pink, and like all of sylvie’s other yarns, perfectly engineered to make beautiful lace.
i had to rechart part of that other composition, then reknit it all. i knit a little bit and then realized i needed to start over. so this is the only swatch photo i have so far . . . it takes a lot longer to knit these lace swatches than it does to knit the sweater ones, hehe. more on this process coming soon.
late night TV demands something much less exciting and taxing than swatches, so i’ve made some progress on my port ludlow sock. it occurred to me that the beach would be a fantastic place to photograph the finished pair, so i’m putting a move on this project over the next couple of days. i figure that between TV tonight, class tomorrow, and a long plane ride tomorrow night, i might be nearly done with them by the time we get to san diego. and hopefully, kim will be able to get them on for a nice photo shoot at the tide pools.
parts of my studio have appeared on the hall landing; i think this means that they are on their way to the garage for stripping and sanding. i stopped in on my work room the other night for the first time in months and found that david has the skim coat of plaster applied everywhere and is about to start on the finish coat. he was staring transfixed at the ceiling, wondering if he should start (this was at around 10 pm and it takes eight hours to do). i told him, you know, maybe not . . . why don’t you do the all-nighter while i’m away? so he took out the windows and trim for refurbishing instead.
the room is a big white box right now—holy moly it looks twice the original size, with the ceiling raised and the walls fixed. it’s much further along than i thought, but then i haven’t been home much lately. i would have taken photos this morning but he has it sealed off.
it’s turned cold again and mostly drizzly, but i have a few garden photos to share, like these of the painted ferns, freshly spreading out their feathers.
with all the rain we’ve had, the beds have almost completely filled in—so much more vegetation than a month ago
the last of the fiddleheads has yet to uncurl; haha, it’s gotten a little stuck in this position for the last day or two, which i find hilarious
they launched up and out in a crazy race during last week’s warm days, then stopped dead when it turned cold. but soon . . .
kris dropped these tomato plants off a week ago and i think they’ve doubled in size since then. i hate to leave them much longer before planting, but you never know. and the biodynamic calendar says to put them in on the 21st, so that’s my plan.
i may go out there this afternoon to put in some cool-weather plantings, like the chard and leeks and parsley. it looks somewhat sunny, but it feels cold and i’m a wimp about working in the dirt when it’s cold. maybe i’ll just wait.
maybe i’ll just work on getting my suitcase packed and a pan of curry going . . . doesn’t that sound so much more appealing?