May 26, 2015

Stitch Works

As knitters, we all have opinions regarding the type of stitches we prefer for different items.

I've been thinking about this, because I'm working on a new afghan concept. As a result, I've been rummaging through existing swatches, experimenting with the impact of different colors and yarns, scouring stitch dictionaries and swatching, swatching, swatching. (Below: front and back)

These steps are an essential part of the process, but they can test the patience of a saint (and I'm definitely not a saint). There's plenty of knitting going on but very little to show, because most of the swatches were frogged in the tadpole phase and never made it in front of the camera.

I was ready to scrap the concept and head back to the drawing board when this little cluster caught my eye:

The group reminded me that where afghans are concerned, there's a reason certain stitches land and remain on my short list. In general, the keepers tend to be: 
Simple and easy –  The easier a stitch is the more likely I am to work a few quick rows while I'm on the phone or carry the project with me to knit on the run.
Reversible – The front and back don’t have to match, but I want both sides to be attractive in their own right. 
Versatile – I’ve made a number of afghans using stitches that to my eye are most appealing worked in solid colors, but I have a true passion for those that also create a pleasing effect in two or more colors. These stitches offer more flexibility and encourage me to experiment with different combinations, which is especially helpful when I'm knitting from stash.
Solid rather than lacy – Don’t misunderstand me please: I love the look of light and lacy afghans and admire the exceptional skill it takes to make them. One of the most frequent complaints voiced by afghan recipients, however, is how much they hate having their toes poke through the fabric. For this reason, my favorite stitches produce a fluid material with an attractive texture but few if any holes. 
That sounds rather straightforward, don't you think? When you add these criteria together, however, the list quickly grows shorter. (Below: front and back)

As knitters we face a complex challenge. What elusive combination of yarn, needle and stitch looks good? Meets our core criteria? Performs as intended in a specific project?

It's a stage of the creative process most non-makers rarely see and frankly don't understand. That's okay. Meanwhile, I'll continue to experiment, swatch and swatch some more until I find which stitch works.

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  1. I used to avoid swatching, considering it as a huge waste of time. But now I embraced it and really enjoy the process! Yours look very lovely - so textured!

  2. I'm with you on the fromt and back thing!

  3. I love stitch swatches! Barbara Walker's book is heaven to me! I will be looking for some new stitch patterns for a wool festival soon.

  4. I like the front and back to be attractive and I am also not a fan of the lacy although beautiful to look at.

  5. As a crocheter I agree with all of your criteria for a good afghan-making stitch.

    More importantly, though, I wanted to say...I think you've just inspired me to create some swatches! They are beautiful in their own right.

  6. lovely swatches ... I especially like the ones on the bottom :)

  7. Lovely swatches. I love the two colour ones the best.

  8. Your swatches are pretty. I hate to swatch. I understand the need for them.

  9. Beautiful swatches. I always think about my shawls. Sometimes I really look wondering how the designer decided how the back side should look.


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