Here I am continuing with my planning and prepping for the design-your-own fairisle sweater pattern by Tin Can Knits called Strange Brew. You can knit along with me and you can come into the Knit Café for Saturday meetups. Last week I posted about charting my pattern, you can find the post HERE.
This week I am swatching!
I know swatching is not everyone’s favourite activity but it is a great way to try out your yarn and in this case, test your fairisle pattern and your colour combinations. I radically changed what I thought I would do for my colour arrangement once I started swatching.
When arranging your colours I suggest you choose colours that have a strong contrast in colour value within the same row in the places where you want your pattern to be strongest. Colour value is the strength of your colour from lightest to darkest. The best way to consider the colour values of your various yarns is to imagine your yarn in a grey scale, or better yet take a pic of your yarns all together and change the pic to black and white with a filter. Colours that appear black are obviously the darkest and the ones that are almost white are the lightest and then there are all the greys in between. Make sure you have lots of contrast in value in your colour choices before you start swatching.
Of course if you are new to fairisle knitting you may want to only pick two colours for your project (a background colour and a pattern colour) if that is the case still make sure that you are choosing two colours that have a contrast in value.
Once you’ve swatched it all up and you have a colour sequence you are proud of it is time to measure. A good size swatch will give you at least 10 cm to measure. If you have too many stitches within your 10cm, swatch again with a larger needle, if you have too few stitches, swatch with a smaller needle. Then block your swatch and measure again. Many yarns change a lot after washing especially superwash yarns. I find the Brooklyn Tweed Arbor (that’s what I am using for my sweater) does not change much with a block.
Did you get gauge on your fairisle swatch? Great! Too bad you’re not done yet. You need to make a plain stocking stitch swatch without colour-work too. Most knitters will find that their gauge is much tighter when they are knitting colour-work. That being the case many of us will have to use one needle size on the colourful yoke and another on the plain body of the sweater. I know I will.
PS. Swatch in rounds for both your colour-work swatch and your plain swatch. If the idea of all this swatching irks you, how about making a hat or a cowl and measuring your gauge after it’s completed? Tin Can Knits have included a pattern for both a cowl and a hat in the Strange Brew Pattern. Thanks guys!
Come in and swatch away or if you are still planning your pattern come in and sketch away this Saturday October 21, noon-1pm.
The Knit Café will be giving a 10% discount on yarns purchased for the Strange Brew sweater when you spend $100 or more.