Swatching for Texture
If you’ve ever knit a sweater, you know the importance of swatching. This is the prep work that happens before you commit to a larger project to confirm and correct for proper sizing and fit. But swatching a small 6 inch square also can be helpful in so many other ways. This week I have been playing with yarn substitutions for a simple yet unique cardigan pattern: the Like a Cloud by Joji Locatelli. This pattern suggests pairing two cobweb yarns, a mohair/silk blend along with an alpaca/merino. The outcome is light-as-a-feather yet will hold in heat for the chill on a sweater weather day.
As a yarn store, we specialize in being able to recommend yarn substitutions for most patterns, and this one would be a challenge for me as I detest lace-weight (and the even thinner cobweb), and keep very few stocked in store. But we currently have some gorgeous mohair/silk blends to choose from so let’s start there. Here are my first considerations: Why not try a smooth textured light-fingering held together with a bright hand-dyed mohair-silk? This is a combo that very popular right now with patterns such as TinCanKnit’s Love Note and Midori Hirose’s Ranunculus.
However upon reflection, I came to realize that both of the yarns in the pattern recommendations are 656y/600m per 100g, so although you hold these double, the typical ~425y/100g merino + ~900y/100g for merino would still end up too thick. So my thoughts turned to a couple of yarns that will be featured in our upcoming Anniversary Sale (save the date: Aug 30th – Sept 7th) which include a whopper of a skein: Wollmeise Lace (1722y/1575m on a 300g skein!), our go-to kid mohair/silk Sugar Bush Drizzle (219y/200m per 25g) and a pretty amazing camel/nylon blend from Cascade: El Cielo (579 y/529 per 100g).
So we start swatching…
It was so interesting to see the difference in size in our two swatches AS WELL AS the slight varieties in texture that would result in a very different end product. As recommended by the designer we swatched ‘in pattern’, instead of the usual stockinette, to give a better sense of the end dimensions but this also gave a great sample of how the final knit fabric would drape and feel. Mom’s white grey swatch was knit in a very relaxed loose knit, and ended up much larger than gauge. This means she can either tighten up her knitting, switch to a smaller set of needles or take her chances and choose a smaller size if she prefers the texture of her swatch! The feel of it was truly light-as-a-cloud, and my guess is that this texture would produce a cardigan that sat the same as a feather: light and airy but without much drape.
For my body-type I am often looking for tops with a slightly more drape (rather than cling) and a crisp, clean ply like that what is found in the tight twist of Wollmeise yarns. The swatch that resulted from my blue combo was similarly soft and almost as light, but had a slight weight to it to suggest a bit more drape. My swatch turned out close to gauge but still a smidge too small, and as I don’t have as much confidence in changing up my tension as my mom suggested, I will go up a needle size to get a closer gauge for size. But now we are good to go!
Did you know you had so many choices with yarn substitution to truly get the best knit for you? That’s the beauty of creating your own closet, you can custom fit to work whatever works best for you! Please feel free to reach out to any of us at Baaad Anna’s to brainstorm on your next project as that is one of the benefits of shopping at a LYS (local yarn store) provides! This is truly one of my favorite parts of my job!