Swatch

Here’s the final stitch pattern from my yarn battle yesterday. While I was frustrated at not quickly finding the right stitch pattern, I have to say, I loved working with the yarn. It’s Fil de La Mer from Tilli Tomas. It’s 70% silk and 30% Seacell (which is a combination of lyocell processed wood pulp and 5% seaweed). The yarn has a cabled construction which gives it quite a bit of bounce for silk, and the Seacell makes it have all of the shine and softness, but none of the squeaky chalkiness that silk sometimes has. (It still smells like silk, especially when blocked. The yarn is dyed as a subtle semi-solid and the slight variation in blues is lovely to watch as you crochet.

So, I had a lot to consider when swatching, and it took me almost an entire ball of yarn to figure it out. I already knew the shape and construction of the garment, so the fabric had to work for that construction. I loved the look of the yarn in a more solid fabric–I tried linked doubles and trebles, I tried alternating rows of double crochet and single crochet, and it looked nice, but I felt that a solid sweater would a) be too heavy, and b) use too much yarn. I tried more intricate lace motifs, but they seemed too “retro” and reminded me of the lace cotton crocheted sweaters of the 1980s. Not what I’m going for. I tried stacked and simple staggered shells, but they seemed too, well, symmetrical.

I used all my normal resources–The Harmony Guides, Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet, but I also had two new stitch guides at my disposal. Sasha Kagan’s beautiful Crochet Inspiration, and The Complete Book of Crochet Stitches by Linda Schapper. Both books have stitches not present in my other books, and what’s more, even seeing “old” stitches presented in a new light can give me ideas.

When I’m trying a stitch pattern from a book, I don’t usually follow the line-by-line instructions. Because I have to really learn the stitch both physically and intellectually, I’ll work from the picture and deconstruct it. When I’m not following someone’s written instructions I feel more free to make changes and alter a stitch pattern to fit my needs. Later, when I’ve decided on my stitch, I’ll chart it, by hand, on graph paper to figure out repeats and if necessary, work out how I’m going to make increases and decreases.

Last night, I blocked and measured my swatch, calculated my foundation chain based on the stitch pattern and the size of the pieces which I had already determined with a schematic, and I started the sweater. I got about 6 inches done.

How the swatch was won

2 thoughts on “How the swatch was won

  • November 6, 2007 at 10:49 am
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    Fascinating to see your process! Thanks for the window into the designer’s mind.

  • November 6, 2007 at 1:34 pm
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    great choice of stitch! I love the assymetrical shells. they let the yarn really show through. I totally agree that linked stitches would have been too much too. I can’t wait to see the finished sweater!

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