Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What to do with your swatches

We all know we're supposed to knit a swatch (and wash it) before starting a project, especially big ones. Whether we do or do not actually follow this protocol is another matter. Shown here is a swatch of alpaca in the lace style before and after washing. It was not stretched or blocked, just washed and laid out flat to dry. This was my test for the Memories of Ukraine tunic sweater found in The Natural Knitter (good book, by the way, excellent photography). Notice the difference in the fabric. I'll admit, I don't always swatch when working with a bounce-tastic wool, but with alpaca it is a must.

But once you're done with a project and you no longer need the reference or extra yarn, what do you do with that swatch? More solid swatches are often used as coasters in our house. You could also turn them into squishy blocks for toddlers, or felt them and sew a bunch together for a bag or trivet, or sew up a single felted swatch with some stuffing and catnip for your felines.

Or you could just make a sweet pink-cape-of-doom for your freezer bat.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joyce Jr

This baby blanket was finished and gifted this week, after what felt like forever knitting it. In reality, I finished it in about a month. But I was eager to be done with it because although the finished product looks awesome, it wasn't exceptionally entertaining to knit being garter stitch and simple black and white color. It also turned out rather enormous, and had I actually been paying attention I would have skipped the last two bands of color. But I just followed the pattern blindly.

The pattern is OpArt, published in Knitty, modifying only the increase method to knitting up from the bar between stitches. We chose to do the black and white version because the recipient is not interested in pink. Also black and white have the advantage of being the first colors babies can differentiate, meaning this blanket may offer hours of entertainment for the little one.

As it is knit in acrylic for easy care and hard wearing durability, I chose not to attempt blocking it into a square. Acrylic doesn't take well to what would be required for that and the house would end up smelling like burnt plastic. Besides, I like the curly-Q edges.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sweet Peas and Celestial Alpaca

Due to procrastination, the following two shawls have been completed and off the needles for some time, but I only just this weekend washed, blocked, and photographed them.

The first is a Citron, modified for length to accommodate not-quite-enough yarn, knit with Knit Picks Gossamer, which is lace weight merino that has been discontinued. Its a nice, squishy yarn, and this particular pattern is just the sort of thing that's great for a high-contrast multicolor yarn. Too much structural detail can get lost in the activity of the colors, but this pattern seems to work it. I've shown here the yarn for comparison and a clip of the finished shawlette. Size of the finished object is smallish, but enough to use as a colorful scarf.

Also blocked today was my take on the Celestial Trio pattern, using a boutique DK Alpaca yarn I purchased several years back at the first MD Sheep and Wool Festival I attended. - Totally worth attending, by the way, biggest festival of its kind I hear, with attendance in the 10's of thousands.

Both patterns are based on pi shawl shaping, and both are well written and easy to knit. The pi shawl style I believe was first introduced to knitting literature by Elizabeth Zimmerman in Knitting Around. This is a highly recommended book, as are all of EZ's books, by many knitters. She is well known for her preference to teach knitters to knit and think on their feet, rather than regurgitate pattern directions (not that there's anything wrong with that, it just limits you a bit). She's also rather entertaining.