Saturdays are for swatching

I’ve gone about three weeks now without knitting anything.  I can’t seem to pick up the one project I have on the needles – a very chic Hanne Falkenberg jacket.  I love the jacket and am enjoying knitting it, but for some reason it’s not working for me now.  I am stressed with a very demanding new role at work and I can’t seem to find a project to hold my attention.

I do, however, have some new yarn to play with.  I have noticed a number of knitters on Ravelry – people whose knitting I follow – using a worsted weight wool from France by  Gilliat, called ‘de rerum natura’.  I have thought about buying it for a while just to see what it is like.  I did some research and saw that it was frequently cited as a good substitute for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.  That sold me!  BT is expensive here in the UK and I prefer to buy more locally when I can.  (I have many projects made from BT yarns, but I enjoy having some options.)  The similarities are in the way the wool is spun, which makes for an incredibly light yarn, with an amazing yardage.  I found a local distributor (Wild and Wooly in Hackney, London), and ordered five different colours:

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(Note that I am going to call these colours navy, red, cream, beige and light blue.  They are actually called Nuit, Pavot, Poivre Blanc, Poivre et Sel, and Lagon, respectively.)

Today I have a rare day free and I decided to do some swatching.  I imagine that many readers of this blog will immediately know what sweater I am swatching for, but as it is that time of the year when a knitter’s heart turns to presents, it will be called The-sweater-that-can’t-be-named for the time being.  Here is Swatch #1:

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I have only knit half the rows, so this is just part of the pattern (and includes the bottom half of a band of flowers which I have mercilessly cut asunder).  The interesting thing about the pattern is that it can be knit with 3, 4, or 5 colours, and these can be high contrast or rather subtle.  This means there are infinite possibilities.  The swatch above was knit with a US8, which might be a bit too big – the swatch is still damp so I will hold off on determining the exact gauge.  I also, in a very stupid move, knit it back and forth – even for a swatch, this is crazy!

Here is the second swatch:

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This one I knit in the round, so to speak.  In other words, at the end of every row I cut the yarns and then slid the swatch across to the other side of the (circular) needle and knitted again.  Thus, every row is knitted as in circular knitting, but it makes for an awful lot of cut ends – which then can’t be ripped out and used again if you are playing yarn chicken.  I knit this one with a US7 needle.  It’s a bit hard to make out in the photo, but this sample uses both the cream and the beige shades. (I also inadvertently added an extra row of beige into the pattern.) Now, I need to decide.  Here are some of my options:

  1. Go with the colour pattern from Swatch #1.
  2. Go with the colour pattern from Swatch #2.
  3. Try other combinations of 3, 4 or 5 of these colours.
  4. Order some more balls of this yarn in some different colours and keep swatching.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. I think I like the fabric with the smaller needle (although the gauge will ultimately determine my choice of needle size).
  2. So far, I am really liking the yarn.  It feels nice while knitting, it is great for colourwork, and it has a much softer hand than I expected.  I will withhold judgement until I’ve finished a garment and worn it for a while, but I am thinking this will be a winner.
  3. I originally decided on the red, navy and cream combo, as that is a pretty classic pairing.  But I wanted to order a few extra colours so I could try out some options.  I chose the beige (slightly darker than the cream) to try to do some subtle shading, and the shopkeeper (thanks, Anna!) suggested the light blue shade.  The red is supposed to be the “pop” colour – in the centre of the flowers and for a few accents. I may try a swatch using just the navy, red and cream.
  4. I should maybe try to make a trip to Hackney and visit Wild and Wooly!  They have a great webpage, cool yarn and are very helpful.
  5. Swatch #1 has white flowers with a red centre, and Swatch #2 has light blue flowers with a red centre.  I very much liked the idea of the pop of red, but I am sort of  considering making a swatch with no red. So, navy background and pattern in cream, beige and light blue? That would very drastically change the pattern I think – no “pop” – but seems intriguing.
  6. I am also toying with the idea of ordering more yarn – a bright orange, a spring green, and a yellow (which unfortunately is a bit more mustard-y than sunshine-y if I can trust my computer screen).  So, I am thinking maybe navy background, white flowers with yellow centres and green accents?  Or, navy background, white or yellow flowers with orange centres and green accents?   (The background is definitely navy as I have 5 balls on hand!

Help! I can’t decide! What should I do?

I only know one thing for sure: swatching is grand!