Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

The tale of the swatches


I think one of the biggest benefits of being a knitter is being able to make garments to suit yourself. It is wonderful to be able to adapt garments to your own liking, by choosing pattern, materials and colour to your taste.

It is also good to be able to experiment a little before jumping in, because sometimes one’s first choice isn’t quite the right choice, and some pre-thought helps to save much angst later. The luxury of time to consider is often not available when shopping for a ready made garment.

Today I shall tell you about the Tale of The Swatches, which illustrates my point quite well.

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These swatches were all made in my decision making process around which yarn to use to knit Gwyneth, pictured below.  It is from Issue No. 95 of The Knitter.
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The first swatch I made is in Cleckheaton Country Naturals. I chose it because it has a similar tweedy look to the original yarn used in the pattern.

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The original yarn (Artesano Nebula) is composed of 33.5% alpaca, 50% wool and 16.5% viscose.  This would give the fabric a lighter quality to what I would get with the above 85% superwash wool/ 10% acrylic/ 5% viscose mix. I thought that the fibre mix would be reasonably similar, but the swatch feels heavy. I think I didn’t realise just how much I’m not fond of the superwash feel either. I wasn’t sure it would feel comfortable with this yarn in a cardigan.

So I knitted another swatch.

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This is pure wool.  It is Stansborough’s Mithril, a beautiful overdyed grey from the Stansborough Grey sheep, which gives that same tweedy look, but it is a much lighter yarn, as you can see.  Looking at it, I’m not sure I want a large, red cardigan, and it is perhaps too light and may not give the garment the structure I am looking for.

Then I noticed that the original yarn was a single, roving style.  So I picked up the long-overdue-for-a-swatch Naturally Harmony, a felted single ply, 100% New Zealand Merino yarn, and made one more.

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Well, I have to say that I just LOVE the fabric that this yarn produces.  It is very soft and lofty. Look at that lovely crisp stitch definition, and the beautiful, demure evenness of the fabric… it would make a beautiful sweater or shawl or hat. You could just cuddle up in it and feel enveloped in warmth and snuggliness… I have bookmarked it firmly for further investigation in that area.  Sadly, it produces a fabric that is too tidy to be suitable for the look I am aiming for in this cardigan though. I notice that the yarn is available in a tweed, and am very tempted to purchase a skein for investigation.

However, conscious of the size of my stash, I decided to be good and turn my attention to it one last time.  A yarn I initially looked at but rejected on the basis of colour looked suitable. It is also Cleckheaton, a mix of merino, angora and silk. It has a tweed fleck, and it is a single ply roving style yarn.

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The fabric has good stitch definition.  It is just the right weight.  It will be warm without being heavy, and has the right about of structure to give the garment a good shape.

I think we have finally found it!  I am still not sure that the colour will go well with jeans, but there are other things in my wardrobe that it will match.  Why else would I have bought a sweater quantity of this yarn otherwise!?

Making one’s own knitwear is the best!


Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

13 thoughts on “The tale of the swatches

  1. I think that would work with jeans, depends on what colour they are of course, but all bar the standard jean colour will work and even that might surprise.

  2. What a tough choice – they would all look amazing – but I think you have answered your own question. And, I’m sorry, but how can anything not go with jeans?

  3. Absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing. i am usually too lazy to swatch, but this has given me real food for thought.

  4. Perfect with jeans I’d say!

  5. I like the blue the best but it is a tough choice.

  6. Perfect with Jeans. I agree. The color is bluesy specked.
    Thank you for advice in choosing. Times I have swatches,not completely pleased, ending up not real enthused neither.
    Your sweater will wear well with a lot of fashion choices. A skirt at knee length would be perfect too! Happy knitting

  7. Thanks for showing one of the important aspects of swatching. I think the blue will look wonderful knit up as that sweater.

  8. Good on you for knitting those swatches. It shows the value of doing it and good decisions made from them. Your choice is lovely and will be fine with your denims. Love your previous post knits, they are fab.

  9. I adore the yarn you have chosen and I am sure it will turn out beautifully, how could it not!

  10. Thanks for explaining the pro’s and con’s of your swatches – they will be a good thing to consider next time I have to make s swatch.
    I think that cardigan will look gorgeous in that blue yarn !

  11. Lovely choice Wei!

  12. Wow what a luxury to have sweater amounts of several yarns! Currently on a yarn diet, I would have a sweater amount of yarn only if I’m making hippy-style patchwork item in a range of weights!

  13. I really like how that white swatch turned out… and you’ve reminded me that I happen to have that yarn (in brown). I think I need to pull it out and make a sweater already!