Saturday, August 20, 2011

Swatching... and the "Terrible Too's"

I spent most of today knitting swatches and playing with yarn.  Sometimes I really hate swatching.  I'm an Instant Gratification Knitter (IGK), which falls in stark contrast to my perfectionist nature, and generally makes my time spent swatching some sort spiritual battle.

Swatching is VERY important (still I hate it), especially when making any garment.  Knitting say a sweater in the wrong gauge will result in a garment with a bad case of the "Terrible Too's": Too long, too short, too tight, too loose, too drapey, too firm... Too's.  And I know this, and I've experienced this, and still I resist swatching.  Why you ask?  Instant Gratification.  I hate spending time knitting a square, washing and blocking it, only to discover that either my gauge is perfect and I could have skipped this step or that I have to repeat myself (perhaps more than - God forbid - twice!) burning more time and yarn.

But it's not only the IGK in me that hates it; it's the Perfectionist as well.  Today was a perfect example of this.  I'm working on a new design and I'm very excited about it (wooo hooo.... let's cast on! says IGK), but the yarn, a lovely Malabrigo, is variegated and therefore doesn't really fit my original design concept with a cabled panel, which, sadly, hides in the color changes.  Okay, so reworking the design requires a change in the overall fabric I'm creating, so now I need to swatch multiple textures to discover which works best with this particular yarn my heart is set on.  Fortunately, because I'm only working to find a texture I like, I'm not looking for actual gauge measurements yet and don't need to go so far as washing and blocking. Still, the Perfectionist demanded EIGHT texture swatches, and I will still need to knit additional swatches for gauge in order to do the necessary math for the design itself.

But, if I hadn't started with my swatches, I'd be fighting the Terrible Too's instead of typing to you.  The cable feature would have been too obscure, and the overall body would have been too busy with pooling and flashing, and I'd be sitting in a swamp surrounded by frogs of yarn and disappointment.

Swatch.  Simple Work Avoids Terrible Crafting Hell - ok, it's lame, but you get my point.  Comment with your creative S.W.A.T.C.H. acronym solutions - I'd love to see some other catchy phrases.