While not a huge fan of the swatching process, I do swatch. In my own way. See below for proof of my swatching for Glenfiddich Cardigan. The idea behind swatching is to see how the yarn behaves; what it looks and feels like knitted up and to check for gauge. Frankly, when I want to jump into a new project, the last thing I want to do make a swatch. But in some instances, like when you want to make a sweater that will fit you, it is a good idea.
Another aspect of making a swatch is to see what the yarn in the swatch fabric will do when washed and put through the paces. Some recommend carrying it around in your back pocket. But what kind of abrasion do you get from something comfortably enveloped in two layers of denim?
A couple of weeks ago I was out of town and I had my spindle with me. I have a collection wristlets that I knit up using scrap yarn to use as distaffs, or bracelets to hold the fibre. I didn’t have one with me, so I quickly knit one up using some of the leftover yarn from the second turtle I wound on the plane. That’s the multi-coloured one at the bottom.
It’s a pretty thing and I enjoyed wearing it and using it to hold my fibre while I spindled. It was so lovely I kept wearing it long after I finished spinning. After having it on for the entire day, I noticed that this wee wristlet was getting some wear and tear. And then it occurred to me that this may be a better way to see how a yarn/fabric behaves. It certainly was put through the paces of being stretched as I pushed it up my arm to avoid getting wet, or if I forgot, it got wet, it was rubbed against things, and generally treated as any cuff would.
So with the next fibre I sampled, Clun Forest from my neighbour up the road, I made a skein, washed it, and knit it into a wristlet. I wore it around for the day to get a sense of what that wool/fibre/fabric would feel like knit up into a sweater.
The wristlet is on top, the unwashed swatch is on the bottom. The wristlet gave me much more information about the yarn than this swatch does. So, new discovery for me. It’s a beautiful and functional. My good friend Rachel confirmed this belief in her latest blog post.
A wristlet is a practical way to swatch. It gives information about the yarn, about the size of needle to use, and most importantly, gives me a chance to really check for wear and tear.