Mar 8, 2007

Swatchfest '07

So I think I've picked a lace pattern for the body of my cardigan. And, as so often happens, it's not only not what I was picturing and planning, it's something that I'm sort of surprised even appeals to me.

My original plan was something along this (Arrowhead Lace from BW1): open and geometric and clean-lined and an interesting foil to the curvy, voluptuous cables that will make up the yoke.

It's just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And I hate it. I do want a functional cardigan, after all, and something this open on my arms and body isn't going to work for me. So I went back to my stitch dictionaries, feeling like a particularly bratty Goldilocks: this pattern is too big, this one is too small, too pictorial, too abstract, too open, too vertical, too diagonal, too flowerly, too geometric, too boring, too elaborate. Nothing was right. Nothing was ever going to be right.

I despaired.

But then I realized that every time I flipped through the books, I stopped briefly at the Lucina Shell Pattern (BW2) and figured there was no harm in swatching it up. And I really kind of love it. It's fun to knit—you increase on each side of the shell parts for several rows and then decrease them all at once later. The pattern calls for knitting four stitches together through the back loops, then knitting four stitches together. The k4tog isn't bad, but the k4togtbl is really almost impossible to pull off when the yarn is this inelastic. You can see how much it stretches the stitches out in the bottom right shell, where it comes together at the top. I switched to slipping two stitches together, knitting two together and slipping the slipped stitches over. It's still a left-leaning decrease, but much easier to execute and looks just as good, if not better.

The real test, though, is whether the pattern will look good with the cables. I had knit up a small cable swatch so I could lay it out with all of the patterns I'm considering. I thought I'd be considering a lot more.
I'll have to play around with the numbers and how many purl stitches go between them, but I should be able to make the cables grow more or less organically out of the shells. The pretty edge is a bonus; it'll look good at the lower edge and at the cuffs. Since the fabric is so solid, I don't think I need a cable band at the wrists to balance the yoke. And one thing that's super-nice is that since one of the patterns has garter stitch in it, I can do a garter stitch buttonband without it looking like it came from outer space.

Now I need to figure out gauge and sizing. I'll have time this weekend to sit down with scrap paper and a calculator and work it all out. One roommate is out of town, the other is mega-booked and I have a fabulous weekend ahead of me, neatly balanced between social and crafty. It's about time; I've honestly believed it was Friday literally every day this week — to the point where I sent a co-worker an email this morning saying how weird it is that the book launch party we're going to tonight is being held on a Friday since they're always on weeknights.


Julia (MindofWinter) said...

I love these swatches - isn't the process great? I can't wait to see your next step.

Joanna said...

Oooh, great swatches! I think the shell patterns works really well with the cables - the first cable twist pulls the fabric together in a similar way to the shells. For the decrease, what if you slipped the first 2 stitches individually, and then K2tog and passed them over? Then the decrease would be completely left-slanting over all 4 stitches. Your new version does appear to lie flatter (and it's great that it's easier!) but if you look closely, it's putting the second stitch on top instead of the first one. The difference is hardly noticeable, so it's not a big deal, but it might be worth trying!

Liz K. said...

Oooh. I can't wait to see how the stitch patterns interact. Such potential there!

June said...

Perfect solution to the k4tog tbl - love it!

klosekraft said...

Joanna, I hadn't noticed that about the second stitch being on top — you're absolutely right. I'll try slipping the stitches one at a time. Thanks!

Yarn It said...

That is so pretty. I love the combination of the shell and cable pattern together!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful swatches, looking forward to seeing the finished cardi.