Friday, August 20, 2010


A swatch is what knitters are supposed to knit up before starting a pattern to make sure their yarn and needles are the right size for the pattern. It's to test their gauge. I admit I'm one of those knitters that often skips this step.

However, J came up with a great use for swatches. J discovered that people are interested in alpaca products, but have no idea what pattern knit stitch they would like the item made out of. When they ask him to make them a scarf, he'd like to let them pick the knit pattern. A long time ago I bought a little booklet called the Beginner's Guide: Knit Stitches & Easy Projects (the title links to where I just found it on Amazon, I have no idea where I bought mine). It's a very handy little paperback booklet that shows several pattern stitches, and how to make them into a design. The back pages show how to do various stitches (including the basic knit and purl, but also the trickier ones, deciphering what PSSO and SSK and so forth means and how to do it, how to pick up stitches and all those things that you need to complete a knit item). I refer to this booklet all the time when using other patterns. J uses the booklet to give him pattern stitches to create scarves.

J decided to knit up several swatches to demonstrate some of the pattern stitch options available. He was so cleaver to use yarn from various spin offs we've entered our alpaca's fiber in. When you enter your alpaca's fiber in a spin off, the judge spins up a small skein of the fiber in order to judge it. You get this small skein back. But it's not your own spinning, and it's not big enough to make anything out of it. Using it for the swatches works great though. You only need a little bit to make this swatch. And, this way it is 100% alpaca yarn, which is what I spin, but it doesn't deplete our supply of yarn (I have plans to pump up my production).

I took pictures of his swatches, even though I know these pictures don't do them justice. The whole point of making these is so that he has something portable to show people (they can see and touch and feel them). But I'll show you what we have.

Out of the basic Stockinette Stitch, he used some yarn from Tehya's fiber:

The disadvantage of the Stockinette Stitch is that there is a clear front and back, and the ends tend to curl up. This is not ideal for a scarf. But it's a pretty basic knit and often used in hats.

Another swatch out of Tehya's fiber, J demonstrates Moss Stitch:

He made a swatch out of yarn from Tucker's fiber, this pattern stitch is called Divided Boxes. This picture does not capture this at all. This one is by far my favorite, but you really have to see it to get the texture that comes from this pattern.

Out of yarn from Lightening's fiber, J knit up the Waffle Stitch:

Another swatch out of Lightening's fiber is the Polperro Northcott stitch pattern (I know, I've never heard of this one either, but it looks neat!):

And a 3rd pattern out of Lightening's fiber, this one called Textured Stripes. This one has a clear front and back that look different, but both look good so it could be used in a scarf.



There are other stitch patterns he has made (even more he could make, once you know the basics you can do any of them), but he thought he'd start his swatches with his most popular ones. I've knit with some more lacy type knit stitches, I should do some of my own swatches to add those to our showcase. J tends to knit up thick and sturdy scarves that are both warm and practical. They really do turn out nice.

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