II think we can probably agree that there are at least two kinds of swatching. The one we're all familiar with is the obligatory swatch we make to check gauge. Enough said.
Another kind of swatching is for exploration and discovery. How else to learn about a yarn, test a stitch pattern, make a mistake that turns into an invented stitch? I recently sat down with my current copy of Barbara Walker's Treasury (first volume), already marked and dog-eared. I still have my original copy, given to me by my dad on Christmas, 1983, and inscribed with best wishes for happy knitting. The book is in pieces and bound together now with a large rubber band. Once in a while, when my current copy is buried somewhere, I take down my original from the shelf and carefully remove the band, spreading out the pages to find inspiration. Which I never fail to do.
This time, my current copy at hand, I grabbed a ball of Willet (color Leeward, a pretty blue), scissors, and favorite needles, and settled down, with that satisfied sigh that I know you know, to spend the evening knitting.
I started with one of my all-time favorite stitches, Fisherman's Rib (upper right-hand corner), the version that has you knit into the stitch below. I love this stitch for how easy it is, the lush, cushy fabric it creates, and its strong indented texture. I wasn't sure how Willet would work in this pattern, but I love it. Willet is a relatively skinny yarn, but worked in this dense fabric, it has the look of something substantial but remains lofty and light. Cool. Next I tried double seed stitch. (I love any kind of seed stitch.) As you can see, Willet has great stitch definition and nice, even stitches. Then I tried a few garter-ridge stripes. Willet is a natural for garter stitch. And given that I'm getting more and more seduced by simplicity in my life in general, I love a stitch that's so easy to do and has such a clean, well-defined pattern. Finally, I swatched a faggot pattern, one that would knit up nicely into a market bag. Or a wispy, vesty, tank.
I didn't get to that slip-stitch cable panel pictured on the page above, another stitch that I'm partial to. I love conventional cables, of course. But flat little slip-stitch cables add texture without bulking up. I think they'd look great knitted in Willet, clean and interesting, but not too dainty. We'll see.
One more thing, I used a size three needle.