One thing that always happens over the course of a summer up north is utter and complete relaxation. Each year as the kids grow up I wait to see if they'll embrace the simplicity of our cottage environment or whether they'll rebel and protest but they consistently fall into our cottage routine of early rising, fresh air, exercise and fresh food followed pretty naturally by being almost incapable of staying awake for more than an hour or two after dark. The fact the best, flattest water for water skiing is early morning also goes a long way toward encouraging this!
For a knitter who generally dedicates pre-breakfast and post dinner periods to yarny activities but who is also ski boat driver/"official" ski videographer/photographer this really eats into the knitting time.
I was prepared for that but was shocked that what ate into my knitting time most in the last three weeks wasn't skiing but swatching! I'm so goal oriented I doubt absent my late summer relaxed state of mind whether I would have dedicated as much time and energy to the exercise in the city as I did in the cottage context so I thought it prudent to take full advantage of my mood.
After spending the first few days finishing the issue-ridden red alpaca men's scarf I started a year and a half ago (FO shots tomorrow if its dry after today's blocking) I treated myself to diving into my multicoloured cardigan project for which lots of swatching was most certainly required.
I decided to use the sleeves as swatches since the sleeves and body of this knit are all done in the round, starting with the sleeves would give a solid idea of whether I was achieving gauge and knitting the pattern would be a great illustration of how the colours would work on the larger body of the sweater.
I knit much of the first sleeve three times, always getting gauge, but always having issues with the colour combinations. Still being open to yet more swatching I grabbed other colours of worsted wool I had with me and started subbing in differing shades trying to more closely approximate the effect of the sweater pictured with the pattern.
One evening (it was raining -no after dinner skiing that night) when I decided against yet another combination I said to Number One Son that at least with so many colours I might wrestle with the combinations but the sheer variety would make it impossible to make any really grievous errors, he immediately said "oh no - that number of colours makes it really easy to do it wrong".
That was a turning point. The next morning - up earlier than the skier (phew!) I decided I'd had enough of fiddling with gauge and pattern it was time to focus solely on colour.
The first thing I did was to make a little "shade card" of sorts using the holes in my needle gauge. I tried to duplicate the mood of the assembled colours pictured in the magazine.
Once I was happy with my new palette I knit a simple striped, flat swatch. When I'd finish a section but wasn't entirely happy I used duplicate stitch over a section of the offending colour. It allowed me to compare and consider my choices without all the fuss of picking back and reknitting or producing pattern. (You can see one such section in the middle of the swatch where I've stitched over brown (on the right) with red (on the left of the same row)) Once complete and to my satisfaction, it was an accurate reference to knit by. It took less time to produce than the sleeve swatches but still took two or three more day's work before I had the final colour selections and combinations.
I was interested to see that what I took out ...
...all goes very well together, just not in the context of this particular sweater. On the other hand what I substituted in...
are also fairly equal tones but being more muted than those I removed from the mix are more suited to the task at hand.
I'm so glad I took the opportunity to really work away at this - without being so relaxed I don't think I would have taken the same amount of care and time and I wouldn't have learned as much as I did. I think the finished product will likely be much the better for the effort.
The nasty corollary of all this relaxation is eventually I need to ramp up to cruising altitude back here in real life. I know from experience that takes a few weeks at least but I'm going to try to putting off starting that process until next week. In the meantime, maybe I'll swatch for something else tonight ;)!
Thanks for dropping by!