Saturday, 6 September 2008

Saturday is for swatching

You're probably aware I've had a bit of mental blockage about starting new projects, particularly larger items, since the Princess arrived (Ok, ok, long before that). I've spent the last few weeks trying to actively play down the angst and get myself a bit organised - lots of Ravelry-ing, updating and prioritising my queue, a good Toss of the Stash (you are so not seeing the photos of that little exercise), researching patterns and yarns. And polishing off a few lingering WIPs.

While I still have a few of those pesky WIPs hanging about, Ive made some good progress and finally my head is in the right place to make a start on some new projects.

My German god-daughter, Little Miss M, turns 4 at the end of October - the end of autumn start of winter in Europe - and I have (for better or worse) started a tradition of knitting her a jumper for each birthday. So I've ordered the yarn from Bendy for that, but in the meantime I thought while I had the desire to cast on, I'd run with it. I've paired off patterns and yarn in the stash, so had a few options.

What's a procrastinator to do when faced with choice?

Why, swatch of course! So I picked two - one big (gotta get back on the big-things horse, its been way too long) and one small.

The "big" project is a Goldilocks project: not too big to be intimidating, not so small as to be avoiding the issue, but j-u-s-t right.

Stephanie Japel's Back to School U-Neck Vest from Fitted Knits. An adult-sized garment, but not the whole catastrophe of front, back and two sleeves. Easy does it, don't want to get spooked.

When Lincraft had their Balmoral Tweed out for $2 a ball a few weeks back, both Bells and I snapped up 10 balls with exactly this pattern in mind. The yarn is listed in Rav as DK/8ply, even though the ball band says worsted, and others have told me I'd have trouble making the 18 sts / 10 cm gague required. And the yarn did feel a leetle thin as I was knitting it.

Well ner-ner-ne-ner-ner, because I got 17 sts on the 4.5 mm needles recommended! The fabric is only slightly more open than I would like, and so I'll go down to 4 mm (I typically gain or lose a stitch per needle size) and just keep an eye on the length and reckon I'll rock it in.

I'm loving the waffle stitch that makes up the bodice too.

My "little" project is of course something for the Princess. (Btw - I've shelved the Wollmeise for now. Too much pressure. Thanks for all your suggestions, but as Beloved is fond of saying "it needs a little bit more thinking").

Given that spring has sprung, I figured I'd better get cracking on some lighter-weight garments for her. I'm hoping the berry baby hat has broken the hoo-doo on knitting for her. So first cab off the rank is Blossom, a sweet little sleeveless (hmm, pattern developing here!) wrap around dress.

Big W had a $2 yarn sale last week (what is it with me and $2 yarn???) and I got 4 balls of Cleckheaton Cocoon, a yarn whose colours I love and have been dying to try but was put off by its 4-ply-ness.

So after all the chores were done, I retired to the deck with a cuppa and the latest Yarn to swatch.

I'm still waiting for it to dry (yes, people, I even wet-blocked my swatches!), but it looks like I'll come in a stitch under the 24 sts required. The fabric is quite open, but is lovely and soft and drapey even before a bath, so I think it will be lovely for this garment.

The Princess seemed quite pleased with this outcome when I told her.

Now I've just got to decide which one to start right now.....arrggghhh, the indecision is killing me!! Maybe I'll swatch for something else.....


Michelle said...

Wait. Big W had a $2 sale on yarn and YOU DIDN'T TELL ME??

Now stop swatching and go and knit something!

Em said...

$2 yarn? I am filled with envy. I'm the only knitter around without a lys (no, really. there's not a yarn shop--a real one--for miles and miles and miles.), so I've started looking online. A knitter's gotta do what a knitter's gotta do, eh? I vote you work on the baby dress first, because I am positively enchanted by tiny things. They make me squeal and say undignified things like "it's just the cutest wittle fing ever!". It's a sickness.

Kuka said...

Oooh, I didn't know about the $2 sale either!!!! Is it still on? That cocoon is divine - I love their colours too!
Can't wait to see how it knits up!!

MadMad said...

Awww... cute, cute and some more cute. And I love the patterns, too. That vest would look really sharp. (OK. I just sounded like a 100-year-old lady with that. Sharp. Oh well.)

Alwen said...

Me, I'm totally derailed by the cute baby pic! I just want to tickle her and get her to laugh!

Bec said...

I'm so glad to hear that you did get gauge with the tweed - the stitch definition looks great. Now I'm thinking the torte might be too heavy for it?

Go with the vest - something to get you through the spring chilly afternoons.

Bells said...

you have such a nose for $2 sales. I love it.

And will you look at that smile?!! Princess Smiley or what?

Good work on the gauge. I will be intrigued to see what gauge I get when I start it!

Emma said...

I like your method of procrastination, I rarely swatch, but now I know what I'll be doing when I don't know what to knit next!

I reckon the vest is going to look great in Balmoral Tweed, it's such a good colour too!

TinkingBell said...

Aaargh $2!!!!!!
Both - go for both - both both!!!!

You need lots of WIPS in convenient paces around the house!

Kate said...

Huhn. New project pressure. Kinda like drowning in chocolate. Tough but what a way to go!

Sensibly, I'd start the project that will take the longest or the project that is easiest to knit when you're tired. I'm guessing that all those rows of ribbing would make the BTSU-NV the one to get off the starting blocks.

I love Blossom, though. Now you've shown it to me I think it would make a gorgeous gift for friends hose bub is about the same age as the Princess but live in Italy so I could go the full wool experience. I'm thinking possibly a Jo Sharp tweed? That way it wouldn' show the dirt when she starts crawling.

kms said...

swatching is research, not procrastination! and what a shame there was nothing in the existing stash that would do for these projects and more $2 yarn was required :) you are really impressive on that front xx

Rose Red said...

Ha ha, I was going to say what Kylie said. I can't believe there wasn't anything in your George that you couldn't use for your niece's jumper - heh!!

Love the photo of the Princess - what a cutie!

And guess what? I did a swatch on the weekend too. It must be catching!

Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

A $2/ball sale and a baby with a smile like that? You've got the best of both worlds.

Donna Lee said...

I would have loved seeing the photos of the stash toss. Just sayin.....
I'd go with the baby dress too. I am not a vest person and don't understand the attraction. I am always cold and want sleeves on my sweaters.

And what a great photo of Grace.

Leonie said...

Have just found your blog via Bells' meme, she tagged me too! I have knitted with the Cocoon before and it does knit up so well and feels so soft. The touch of nylon should help it stay in shape which will be lovely for that little dress, can't wait to see how it comes out!

Lisa said...

Your princess really does seem delighted. I am super impressed with your attention to detail with your swatches