Swatching

Well…hopefully last night was the end of the rainy season in Northern California.  Last year at this time, I was wishing for more rain.  Now, the drought is officially over!  I look forward to pulling some weeds and planting sunflower and zinnia seeds along with a few tomato plants.  At the moment, I’m on the mend due to a stress fracture in my left foot, which gives me more time for knitting.

A couple of years ago, The Yarn Truck was parked at one of my local yarn stores, and I purchased two skeins of OctoBaa 100% superwash merino (8 ply sport weight) 270 yards, from Indiodragonfly.  What can I create with 540 yards of yarn?  Time to swatch.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

 

This stitch pattern above reminds me of ornamentation found on Etruscan and Greek architecture, vases and tomb paintings.  I had an idea of combining two different stitch patterns in one project, so I studied the specific visual qualities of the above swatch.  I noticed the dimensionality created by the knit and purl stitches.  Also, if you look closely, there is a pattern within a pattern.  Do you see it?  Notice the movement of the pattern.

The first swatch pictured above deepened my desire to find other patterns which would express  surface movement.

Swatching #3_1_1_1_1
Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Isolating the hidden pattern in Swatch 1, inspired me to seek out the use of cables. Swatch 2 represents an element found in Swatch 1.

Swatching #2_1_1_1
Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Swatch 3 builds upon surface elements found in Swatches 1 and 2.  The cables found in both swatches lean to the left and the use of garter stitch horizontally separates the vertical elements of stockinette stitch.

Recently, I’ve made a concerted effort to really “look” at my knitting.  What relationship develops between the yarn and stitches while creating the overall pattern?  How does this relationship visually enhance the color and qualities of the fiber?  Or, is it the other way around…How does the synergy between the elements affect the outcome?  I believe, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Does Yarn Color Have A Shelf Life?

I’ve decided it’s time to get in touch with my “inner yarn self” and make some important decisions regarding my collection.  Instead of consuming, I want to use what I’ve collected over the last 20+ years.   Do I find the yarn colors, fiber content and gauge still appealing?

I uncovered enough gold-colored Lana Gross Merino Big for a sweater and questioned why I purchased the particular color, because I don’t wear gold (jewelry is an exception).  I soon remembered, the yarn was purchased for my daughter whose reddish-brown hair and green eyes definitely suit the color.   But, what about all the rest?  Are the many skeins, balls and hanks of color still relevant?  Some may be considered vintage, but does yarn color have an expiration date?  I collect vintage knitting patterns, e.g., Coats & Clark’s featuring Red Heart Books, Spinnerin, Woman’s Day, to name a few, but I don’t have an interest in knitting from the various collections.  I’m interested in the recorded history of style and written directions, in order to compare and evaluate the patterns of today.

Does Yarn Have A Shelf Life #2

Now, I’m knitting “A casual classic from designer Calvin Klein” pullover in a broken-cable pattern from Vogue Knitting Very Easy Knits.  The Broken-Cable Pullover first appeared in the Spring/Summer 1986 issue of Vogue Knitting and was originally knit using Joseph Galler Bamboo.  I’m knitting with  Berroco Zodiac 53% cotton, 47% nylon yarn which may be at least 10 years old.

Does Yarn Have A Shelf Life_1

Looking for answers,  I decided to check-out the Pantone Colors for Fall 2015.  Of course, these colors dominant the Fashion Industry, but what about the yarn industry?

pantone-fall-2015-colors-j

Gradation Pantone Fall 2015

The Burberry dress, “The Reflecting Pond” found on Harper’s Bazaar online http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/trends/g5257/pantone-top-color-trends-fall-2015/?slide=4 definitely resembles Pantone’s Stormy Weather and Reflecting Pond.

Koigu Grey Skies gradient

Pantone’s Stormy Weather and Reflecting Pond along with Grey Skies Gradient from Koigu  have common color attributes.  Koigu and the designer dress from Burberry share the effects of color gradation.

Pantone’s forecasts are fun for Fashion Week and merely a suggestion.  Color preference is literally in the “eye and mind” of the beholder.  Yes, girls like pink and practically everyone likes blue, researched by neuroscientists, Anya Hurlbert and Yazhu Ling at Newcastle.  The results from their color selection experiment, Study: Why Girls Like Pink appears in Time Magazine August 20, 2007.

I believe my color selection is based on my life experiences which reflects the various stages of my personal growth. So, I’ve decided to let my yarn color selections tell my story in bright, vivid, bold details.

Betty’s Stash

Can another person truly appreciate the collections of another? I’ve been contemplating the answer to this question.  Each time I climb the stairs to my attic, I transcend the reality of down below.  Surrounded by bins full of color, texture, and print transports me to a reality all my own.  Will someone else be able to share my reality or create their own?

I own three Singer sewing machines, two Bernina sewing machines and one Bernina Funlock machine.  My first Singer was given to me by my parents as a Christmas gift, the second was given to me by my husband when I was expecting our daughter, and the third I bought from a co-worker who needed the money.  The Bernina I purchased for myself and the second Bernina was given to me after my mother-in-law passed away.  Each machine, as silly as it sounds, represents a stage in my life. They are a part of my history.

Which brings me to the reason for this post…I didn’t think I had much in common with Betty, except for her son and granddaughter, my husband and daughter.  Well, that was until I inherited her sewing machine, fabric and notions.

Betty's Stash_1_1

Rarely, did I see Betty wear color, but her thread collection reflects a different story.

Betty's Stash #2_1

The Stretch and Sew pins bring back memories of the Stretch and Sew knits http://www.asg.org/files/hall/2004_Person.pdf.  I can’t part with her collection of hotel sewing kits, especially the one from a hotel in Sri Lanka.  Betty was a world traveler reflected by the stamps in her passports (which I’ve got for safe keeping).  Her collection of silk from Thailand and India, and batiks from Bali.

I appreciate Betty’s love of travel and culture, narrated by her gifts to me.

Color

Before the Pantone Color Guide published in 1963, A. Boogert, a Dutch artist produced a body of work about mixing watercolors, dated 1692.  The entire book may be viewed in full resolution at:

http://www.e-corpus.org/notices/102464/book/?fullpage=yes

The following link shows actual painted pages with a summary of the book.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/color-book/

What To Do With All This Yarn?

After knitting for 20+ years, I’ve acquired quite a bit of yarn.  My yarn collection has a history all its own.  Like fashion, the color of yarn, texture and composition of fiber, records trends and style of a particular time period.  Does yarn marketed by the various companies  define a trend or does the knitter define the trend?

When I began knitting, my first project was a sweater.  Scarves, shawls, socks and lace knitting were not on my radar.  Self-stripping yarn (Regia) emerged and I couldn’t wait to knit a pair of socks on DPNs.  My knitting began to reflect my attraction to stitches creating patterns and dimension, texture and color.

In the late 80s and 90s, my worldview of knitting became a melting pot of yarn selection and pattern design.  The cross-pollination of knitting culture introduced a plethora of options from reading a Japanese knitting schematic, sitting next to a continental knitter, and a variety of knitting books drawing upon traditional folk costume and ethnic motifs from all parts of the globe.

So, what do I do with 20 balls of  Filatura di Crosa Zara?   Isla, a shrug designed by Martin Storey, “knit in a medallion seed stitch cable pattern with a deep rolled collar and brilliant deep curved welt” appears in Aran Knits, 23 Contemporary Designs Using Classic Cable Patterns.  A project influenced by traditional fisherman’s sweaters found on the ganseys of the British Isles.

Isla Shrug #2

Experiment or Mistake

Browsing through my pictures I discovered three experiments I never posted because I didn’t feel the outcome was worthy of a blog post.  Today, however, I find them quite interesting.  Should I consider these attempts an experiment or mistake?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines experiment as “A controlled procedure carried out to discover, or demonstrate something .” Mistake, “To blunder in the choice of.”

Felted Scarf and Wrap #1

Attempt #1: Originally, I did not find the colors appealing in the scarf I felted with the novelty yarn.  Now, I do.

Attempt #2: At the time, I thought the felted roving looked like a jumbled mess, but know the fiber looks like a spider web with a multitude of possibilities.

Last but not least, Attempt #3: The knitted block/rectangle was suppose to look like a log cabin quilt.  I wasn’t attracted to the outcome, but know I am pleased with the colors and texture created by the different yarn and color combinations.

I don’t consider these mistakes, they are experiments.  Perhaps our creative tastes evolve with time and experience.

Roving Spider WebLog Cabin

Why I Knit

How can I describe why I like to knit?  Is it the tactile experience of the yarn running through my fingers, color unfolding on my needles, texture created by stitches or sharing a common interest with others?

I realized why I like to knit.  Today, I watched Kate try on her completed sweater for the first time.  With a sense of pride, she marveled at her silhouette in the mirror and called me her fairy godmother for making her “knitting wish come true.”   Thanks Kate!

Kate