Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swatch Success

With my blocking activities caught up I’ve jumped back on my double knit vest, the one I’m designing to show off controlled pooling. (I’ve got to come up with a good name for this project!) At last report I had laid out a pattern in PaintKnits TM that really showed off the yarn colors in pooling plaid. (See the screen dump in my post from August 9, 2009.) The more difficult task was to swatch double knitting in a consistent gage.

Well I started feeling more comfortable about the gage so it was time to move to the next step… confirming the stitch count for the pooling effect. This next swatch would also confirm that I was on gage for both colors, since I still had doubts.

I decided to swatch just the stitch count for the panel under the armhole. This project will be knit from side to side, so that part of the knitting is the narrowest area. The PaintKnits layout called for 40 stitch pairs in this area, so my swatch would be 40 stitch pairs. I didn’t add color changes because the main point of the swatch was to confirm the pooling. (Actually any excuse would do to avoid that confusion!)

Here’s the bright side of the swatch, (BMFA STR Heavyweight, Rolling Stone colorway on US#7s):

And the dark side, (BMFA STR Heavyweight, Rook-y colorway):
I love the color pooling. It shows up on both sides, although it’s very subtle on the dark side of the fabric. The diagonal bands have roughly the same angle on both sides indicating that my gage is reasonably close on both sides. Amazing!

Once I'd knit some distance on the swatch I needed to use it to confirm my computer model in PaintKnits. Easy enough. I built a simple pattern of 40 stitches across. Next I needed to figure out where in the skein loop I’d actually started knitting. Here’s my model for the skein colors:
Here’s a close up of the yarn’s entry point to the swatch:
Looking closely at where the yarn enters the swatch you can see that the actual knitting starts with the pink, right after the khaki color. In the model the pink starts at 10 inches, so that was my estimate for the start point in the color loop. (The screen dump above shows 17 inches. That was the number I changed to 10.)

Next I painted the pattern in PaintKnits. Here’s the result:
I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still feels like magic to me when the knit fabric matches the computer model so closely! The blue bands in my swatch are preparing to bounce off the edges of the swatch exactly as shown. Green forms a wide diagonal band. All of the colors are where they should be.

Now I’m ready to finalize my pattern. I’m way too lazy to chart the whole thing, so I’m thinking that maybe I’ll dimension it in stitch and row counts. I have to make some decisions about the button bands as well since those are in line to be cast on / cast off regions. This design work still stands between me and actual knitting, but I’m very happy with my new swatch and my progress.

Of course anyone who’s checked Ravelry to see if I’ve finally posted the Rhythm of Surf Cardigan may have some other things to say about my progress…