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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!