From Stitch Pattern to Project Swatch

Coronado Cardi

In the last post I talked about Sand and Dot stitch, stitch patterns that are simply two sides of the same fabric. When you fall in love with a stitch pattern in a book or magazine (or website ;), the first step is to make a swatch to a) see how your fingers like making it, and b) see what the resulting fabric feels and looks like. Once you’ve decided you want to move forward with the pattern, the next step is to swatch for using it in a project.

Above you’ll see the swatch, design inspiration photos, and rough schematic which I included in my design proposal for the Coronado Cardi. When I made the swatch, I was testing the idea of beginning with a Sand stitch border, which would curl just slightly toward the body. Above the border, the body in Dot stitch would allow the multicolor yarn to take center stage, with just a smattering of purl bumps to tie the textures together. The swatch shows where I tried a buttonhole band in Sand stitch to see what that would look like.

I used the same size needle throughout. Note how on the  right edge of the main fabric the border appears just a tiny bit wider than the Dot stitch main fabric.  Since I didn’t change needles or stitch count, shouldn’t the fabric be the same width on both sides??

The top of the loop and running threads are the dominant feature of any purl-based fabric like Reverse Stockinette or Sand stitch. The width-wise character of these “frowns” and “smiles” cause the curl at top, bottom, and sides of these fabrics. Perhaps it is simply the curl that we see, making Sand stitch appear wider, or even measure as being a fraction of a fraction of an inch wider, than Dot stitch. When designing, the best you can do is make a big swatch and trust your measurements (taking the average of several).

A Simpler Project

Let’s use our base stitch patterns to make a simple circular cowl. I’m going to use the Faux Channel Island cast-on from a few weeks ago as a bottom border, and a flat edge of some kind as a top border. Looking in my stash, I found three skeins of Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland (126 yds/100g; 15 sts and 22 rows for 4 inches/10 cm on US 10), each in a different color. In Swatch 1 (amethyst), Swatch 2 (aster), and Swatch 3 (north sea) below I explored ways to vary the stitch pattern(s) that would be appropriate for my project.


Swatch 1

The simplest thing to do? Begin with my chosen bottom border and jump right into the stitch pattern. End by working in stockinette to create an edge that rolls away from the Sand Stitch face of the fabric and toward the Dot stitch face of the fabric.

I love the way the cast-on edge works with the fabric itself. The bottom is curling up slightly, something I will need to consider as I make final decisions about the cowl I’m creating.

Swatch 2

Welting is the horizontal equivalent of ribbing, usually worked by alternating rows of Stockinette with rows of Reverse Stockinette. Here I’ve alternated a full repeat of Sand (+1 balancing row) with a full repeat of Dot (+1 balancing row), creating a reversible fabric with a three-dimensional character.

Rows 1-4: Dot Stitch.
Row 5: Knit.
Rows 6-9: Sand Stitch.
Row 10: Knit.
Repeat rows 1-10 twice, binding off on last row.

Swatch 3

In this swatch I’ve brought together features of Swatch 1 and 2. The swatch has a large middle area of Dot/Sand stitch, and borders of the same. But I’ve interrupted the patterning with 3 rows of Reverse Stockinette on the Dot stitch side, Stockinette on the Sand stitch side. The two sides of the fabric are decidedly different, with welts that pop up out of the Dot side and receding valleys of knit stitches on the Sand side.

Rows 1-4: Dot Stitch.
Row 5: Knit.
Rows 6, 8: Knit
Rows 7: Purl.
Rows 9-20: Dot Stitch.
Row 21: Knit.
Rows 22, 24: Knit.
Row 23: Purl.
Rows 25-28: Dot Stitch.
Bind off, purling.

In the final post of this series I’ll go over the process of writing up a simple cowl pattern worked in the round for each of these swatches as well as show you the results of knitting them.