Thursday, February 22, 2007

Process or Product?

Which kind of knitter am I? Well, sometimes one and sometimes the other, but also another category altogether "Experimental".

I have hauled out the stitch dictionaries,

and started in on slip stitch swatches,

and this reminds me how much I enjoy swatching pattern stitches. I love playing around with them, trying to analyze why they do what they do, tweaking them, envisioning how they could be used, what they would be good for and what they would not be good for. I could almost be satisfied just swatching and sketching design ideas without ever completing a finished object. (Almost.) What I have done so far barely begins to scratch the surface of the possibilities.

Just one example: ringing some changes on a very basic 4 row pattern:

On this swatch I started out with Pinstripe from Barbara Walker (bottom). Looks like stranded knitting, but only one color worked per row - breaks up the varegation of the second yarn - sleeve cuff for sweater? The first half of the second section up is "Corn on the Cob" (also BW). These are really exactly the same pattern stitch, except the first is worked in stockinette and the second in garter. But there is a significant difference in look (and in feel). Thicker - kind of cute nubbiness - hat brim? The top half of the second section combines them: two rows stockinette based, two rows garter based. The difference from Corn on the Cob is very subtle, but might be more apparent with a different yarn combo, maybe one fuzzy and one smooth? Or what if I worked 6 rows stockinette based and 2 garter? You see how it goes.

Moving up, I am still working the Pinstripe Pattern, but...

In the bottom section, on the variegated rows I slipped with yarn in front instead of in back on Red RS rows. In the next section (looks like solid black) I slipped wyif on the black RS rows. And at the top I slipped wyif every right side row. (Hmm, that flattens out the fabric noticably.) None of these are all that visually exciting. But what if I worked that first bit slipping every third stitch instead of every second, so the background color peeked through a little more?

Some of this is, in a sense, reinventing the wheel. I expect that any number of stitch variations I can come up with will already exist in the stitch dictionaries. But by swatching for myself I start to get an understanding and a feel for how they actually work (not to mention tons of other "what if?" ideas). And I like that.

P.S. to Jeanne: Thanks for stopping by and for the comments. I've tried to return the visit, but the link in the comment doesn't work for me. :(


CatBookMom said...

Love the playing with yarn! I do a bit of that when I get into a hat-making mood. There's a picture at of some bright primary-colored hats I did with doubled worsted and a bit of chunky variegated. It's amazing to me how different a few rows of seed stitch or garter can make in a simple hat, or just a bit of a coordinating yarn for accent.

You probably know about yarn dominance. Grumperina clued me in to it, and here's a link to her latest post on the subject. It is really amazing how much difference it makes just wrapping the strands differently!
The forward link to more technical info is in her section on the yarn.

Cindy G said...

*Grin* Catbookmom, I do believe I was posting birthday wishes on your blog at exactly the same time you were posting here.

And yeah, that "yarn dominance" is amazing. I discovered it the hard way when I knit one rather complex Norwegian style mitten holding the dark color in my right hand and the light one in my left, and held them the opposite way for the second mitten. Of course, I didn't notice until both were done...

Jeanne said...

About the link to me, I don't know why it didn't work. It goes to my profile. Try instead.

Knitbert said...

Your swatches look great, all the different colours and effects side by side.
It is strange that some people love to swatch and some people just would do anything to avoid it!

Cindy G said...

Well gauge swatches (I mean trying to match a given, predetermined gauge)aren't nearly as fun as pattern swatches. Fortunately,pattern swatches can be used to measure gauge if I'm designing my own ;)