Feb 02, 2016 :: by Leila Raabe
Swatches: some of us love them, some don't. For getting to know how a new yarn behaves, swatching is, to me, a no-brainer. Rather than crossing your fingers, closing your eyes and casting on, swatches can be a smart way to learn about the behavior of the yarn and the fiber content in a given stitch situation, without the frustration of casting on for a large project only to find, late in the game, that pattern and yarn were not a good match after all. Some of us—and I've been there—are too impatient to swatch, preferring to get on with the "real" knitting. But that can often turn around to bite us in ways that swatching helps to avoid—poor fit, unpleasant hand of fabric, running out of yarn.
Some yarns like certain kinds of stitches better than others. And on top of that, some yarns like certain stitch patterns at certain gauges in order to really shine. The best way to find out is by swatching.
I loved the way Ibis handled the textures in the brim of Dawn's Broken Rib Hat, but was curious to see how this bulky, silken merino/mohair behaved in other types of stitch patterns. In the above photo, braid and rope cables were borrowed from Whitney Hayward's Marsellus sweater for the swatch at left, and a simple, traditional shale lace for the other. Both were worked on size US 11 needles. The results—big, luxurious cables, and slinky macro lace, every bit as happy in Ibis as the textured stitches of broken rib. There's a lot of versatility and experimentation to be had with a big, fluffy yarn like this. And a bonus: These pretty swatches were so fun to work up! Knitting with Ibis is like knitting with puffy marshmallow clouds.
Sometimes, a small-ish project can be considered a kind of swatch, and one that, if chance is on your side, is one you can wear and enjoy the look of. And if it didn't turn out so well, it's not a lot of work to rip out and start over again.
Read our previous post on Ibis here.