I think I'm getting perilously close to the point where if I continue swatching I'm going to have done a sweater's worth of knitting without having knit a sweater.
That is part of the peril of designing your own sweater. Especially one with so many motifs.
Here you see the dragon head swatch. Can you make him out in the photo? He still needs to be tacked down and finessed.
The stitch marker on the left was intended for a second dragon, but I realized I wouldn't have room so I skipped it. After all it's just a swatch.
The book then says something along the lines of "attach dragon with applique techniques." As though that means something to me. And I suddenly thought, "Hmm, there is going to be a lot of fussy finishing involved with these dragons. Maybe I don't want as many as I originally thought."
Currently I'm thinking I'll whip stitch the dragon in place from the wrong side of the cardigan, i.e, reach up from inside.
In the book, there is a picture of the dragon with little whiskers embroidered on. They really enhance his looks, but embroidery is so not in my skill set. I had the swatch and the book in the store recently. Pam and Jane (one of our regular teachers who is a little flashier than me) were trying to convince me to use some sort of shiny red yarn for the whiskers to make him really pop. I am debating this idea. It might stand out too much. But that is rather far down the line.
As I mentioned last time, the top swatch is for the bottom hem and the front opening.
I was also planning that cable for the sleeve cuff. However, there are so many cool cables in Viking Patterns for Knitting that I couldn't resist the idea of perhaps incorporating more of them into the cardigan.
The result was a swatch of the one you see here, which is one I like and think looks "cuffy."
However, it looks anemic in comparison to the main cable, so I'm not going to use it.
In case you're wondering, there is a half cable on the left because I'm making all the swatches over 48 sts regardless of pattern repeat. My theory is this will make it easier to measure them for gauge and give me a better idea of how they might pull or flair. 8x8 swatch indeed.
The next swatch was this beautiful cable you see here. This is one of my favorites out the of the book. It's the Happiness Symbol Bisected by a Ring (or something like that). A smaller version, without the ring, is what I had wanted to put on the heel of the Angora Bed Socks of Power and Fortune!, but couldn't remember how to make it.
My plan is to center this on the back of the cardigan to break up the expanse of reverse stockinette stitch. I needed to know how tall and wide it will be so I can plot it.
I learned two things from swatching it.
First, it seems to pucker more than the other cables. However, I haven't blocked any of them so I'm not worried about it. Also, it will have the weight of the sweater pulling it straight.
Second, I'm going to have to float stitch markers up the entire sweater for it, or carefully plot the number of stitches it will be from the edge. The chart only has 4 sts on either side of the outer edge shown. Centering the very beginning of the cable in the middle wasn't a problem, but I got a little confused when it was time to work the increases for the outer rings.
See, swatching really is our friend!
The last swatch (I thought) I knit was this wee one. Obviously not on 48 sts!
My plan is to have the cables grow up from the sleeve cuff and stop in dragon head(s) near the elbow. Then I want the cables to resume on the upper arm. The kind I'm using have stop and start points so I can skip a section like that.
What I didn't know what whether I could essentially work a dragon "down." As you can see, it came out just fine.
When I finished this second dragon I thought, "Phew. I've swatched my fingers off. I can figure out my gauge and start the scary math."
Ah-ha! Not so fast.
It occurred to me I had edged all my swatches in garter stitch, as you do.
I was planning to edge the sweater in four rows of seed stitch, just to be difficult.
It occurred to me I should swatch, again, with the seed stitch border to make sure it really will control curling and look alright.
The anti-curling objective seems to have been met. In the looks department it's kind of blah. The very bottom hem blends in with the rev st st of the body, which might be just as well, but is kind of annoying since seed stitch is so much work. However, on the sides, which represent the front opening, it looks just fine.
I'm also using this last swatch as an opportunity to work a shorter version of the main cable to see if I prefer it for the sleeve cuffs. The jury is still out, mainly because I haven't knit enough rows yet.
I don't know how well you can see the color variations among all the swatches.
Brooks Farm Solo is a hand-painted yarn. The general rule of thumb when working with hand-painted yarn is to blend the color variations from skein to skein by alternately working two rows from two different skeins. (i.e., rows 1 & 2 with skein A, rows 3 & 4 with skein B, back to A, etc.)
I wasn't planning to do that because I'm, you know, lazy.
However, seeing the difference in the colors of the various swatches when I had them laid out side by side for the photo shoot was very surprising.
Remember, I bought them all at once and they are supposedly the same dye lot.
But some of them look decidedly pink or washed out red in comparison to the others. After I saw it in the swatch I could even see it in the balls.
Also, I'm continually surprised by the amount of orange. Don't get me wrong, I like it. I think it is popping up in the cables in an interesting manner. And I realize it will be different spread out of the entire width of the cardigan rather than a wee 48 sts swatch. But still, hello orange.
Of course, all these color concerns are much more noticeable in the sun than they are in the living room.
The point is, I'll be alternating skeins.
I have three hanks I haven't balled yet. For some reason the colors seem more noticeable when in ball form. I'm going to try to determine which are pink and which are red and make sure I pair them up as much as possible.
Soon. Soon I will be able to start the real knitting on this cardigan.
Considering Mom just reserved our hotel room for Rhinebeck 2010, I better knit fast!