bed spread, behind the scenes, Swatching

Swatching for Coming Workshop

Here is a swatch in DK weight of a bedspread I’ve been working on in size 10 crochet thread.

The workshop is going to be how to use a pattern recipe, so that you can use the thread or yarn and hook combination that you desire.

The pattern will have numbers for starting points for blankets of diffet sizes in various weights of yarn.

Upon completion of the workshop you will understand how to work from a pattern or stitch dictionary that says something along the lines of “chain a number divisible by 9 + 2.” What does that really mean and how to use it to make what you want using the stitch pattern you desire. You can make anything from scarves to blankets with this skill in your arsenal.

behind the scenes, Brick and Mortar, Swatching

Math, definitely part of my process…

Getting these hats ready to go to the tech editor. Gauge is always part of a part and is minimal basic math. That’s how many stitches and rows or rounds per inch so that you can replicate the work I’ve done and it actually fit.

When there are different sizes then there is more math and not just basic everyday math, but geometry. You figure how much yarn used for one size and the number of square inches for that size and then how many yards use per square inch and then apply to the other sizes you want to make.

For me this is the owner part of the process. It don’t have the formulas memorized or even organized in one place because I don’t do it enough. I’m going to be doing it more though so I better get organized.

The other little bit of knitting that isn’t a hat, is a swatch for mitts using DK weight yarn. So far I like this needle size with the yarn. Next I’ll measure the swatch and do some basic math to figure out how many stitches to cast on.

Thankful for all those math classes in school. Didn’t feel very practical in the moment though I love numbers but very useful now.

Happy making!

Brick and Mortar, Swatching

Brick and Mortar in DK

I decided to try making the Brick and Mortar mitts, knit version, in DK weight yarn. So far, so good.

Less stitches and rows to get the same size finished piece. It goes faster and they will be a bit thicker than the ones made with fingering weight yarn.

I chose to do just two colors this time and have less ends to deal with.

The way the Brick and Mortar mitt patterns are written is almost recipe like. A really good recipe with lots of guidance so you can use any yarn you want. You have to be willing to swatch though.

This is one of those pieces where the item could be the swatch. Take notes! Without notes of yarn weight, hook or needle size,number of stitches and things like that, swatching doesn’t do any good.

I will make the Brick and Mitts free when you use the code “swatch it” when they’re released in March and it’ll be good through the end of May 2023.

Happy making!


Unpopular opinion: Swatching is helpful

Warning you may disagree with this post.

Swatching is helpful and prevents heartache later on down the knitting and crocheting road.

I recently recorded a video about why I think seatching is helpful and thought I’d share some of the stills I took during that shoot here.

These swatches are examples of some of the swatches I’ve done over the last couple of years. Some are knitted and some are crocheted. I think three, we’re experiments for actual projects I wanted to make.

You’re probably wondering if I swatch for projects before I start and the answer is yes. Click the “Swatches” category tag above this post to see other examples. Usually those swatches are ripped out after notes and photos so that I can reclaim the yarn for the project.

What are all these other swatches for then? Various things. Learning new techniques, trying out colors and even long term stretch tests or felting limits.

Swatching helps to save heartache by learning earlier that those colors don’t work together or that fabric is too stiff or too loose. If possible look for a piece of the project that can be a swatch, such as the sleeve. For socks and hats I usually just get started. Blankets and shawls, swatch.

It’s all knitting, crocheting, yarn, needles and hook so why not do it? Just swatch!

Happy Making!


Blocking Day!

Yesterday was blocking day. In Colorado my studio was large enough that my blocking table was always set up. Here that isn’t the case. When I need to block something here I have to set up my table on the back patio. I watch weather for rain, not often and wind. Neither were happening yesterday so I was good to go. So glad I can block outside here in the winter.

I set up my 6 x 6 foot table, cover it with the foam floor mats and a sheet. This session I had some swatches and a large, very large shawl.

I soaked all the items in water, which thankfully is available out back, then let them sit for a couple of hours.

When I was ready to block I took my salad spinner outside to spin out the excess water.

I did the swatches first, because they are little and easy. Then I tackled the shawl.

These swatches are the examples for the how to read knitting charts workshop I will be teaching at the Las Cruces Knitting Guild in February. If it goes well I plan to make it into at least a workbook and maybe a video class. If you think you might be interested in that please share in the comments below.

While it turned out to be bigger than I was expecting it was easier than I was expecting. I pulled out and blocked each of the points along the edge and then just made sure everything else was smooth. No wires needed anywhere. I did have to add a couple of smaller mats because the shawl isuch bigger than the table.

The Fantastitch Shawl from Stephen West


Chart Reading Swatches

This weekend’s project was making swatches for an upcoming workshop I’m teaching at the Las Cruces Knitting Guild.

It is chart reading. I chose 4 popular knitting techniques to show how charts can be used. Color work, texture,lace and cables.

I still need to block the swatches and make some changes to the chart. Otherwise I’m ready and I think this is going to be a fun workshop to teach. This wi be the first time I’m using a slide show during teaching, hope that

bed spread, Swatching

Bed Spread

This is a piece I have been working on for almost a year now… I am enjoying it but it is slow because I am using crochet thread and a size 6 steel hook.

My grandmother loved bed spreads in this weight of yarn and the color I’ve chosen is also in honor of her.

I have 10 or 12 balls of this color. Way back when thread would go on sale for $.99.

I wrote up the directions and sent them to my Mom. She worked it p up using fingering weight yarn and a US “D” crochet hook. Below is her swatch.

I’ll keep working on it and eventually it will get done. The goal, aside from a bed spread in honor of my Grandmother, is to make it into a teaching opportunity about swatching, gauge and how to use a pattern that say “chain a number…” Also how yarn weight and hook size make a difference in the size of the finished piece.

I’ll find the instructions and post them here for you all to play with too.

Las Cruces Shawl Vest, Swatching

Swatching board

I went back to swatching board for the Las Cruces shawl crochet version, see previous post to catch up if needed.

As promised on my Instagram Live, see IG bio to watch replay, here are the pictures I took of my progress.

First attempt in actual colors.

This is the one I started after lying to myself about the swatch being okay.

The pink one is a pattern from a book. The red and green isn’t quite right but looking at it now I could have lied to myself again…

I got smart and have at this point started asking my daughter for help and her thoughts. She told me to keep trying.

Here are the 3. The bottom is my final pattern.

I have now worked the first 5 rows of the pattern in the final colors. My daughter is pushing me not to really look at the work until I have worked as many rows on it as I did in the swatch in the photo above. I’m about half way there. Stay tuned.

Las Cruces Shawl Vest, Swatching

Las Cruces Shawl the Crochet version

Here is the first swatch that I was happy with. I have since ripped it out, but made enough notes that I could duplicate it.

Here is the beginning of my shawl…

I was lying to myself about the swatch laying the way it needs to. It didn’t really I just moved it around and thought more rows and blocking would take care of it. Nope those things aren’t going to help.

So today I’m back at the swatching board having learned a few things and with some new ideas. I won’t be ripping the “final” shwatch this time, just in case I need a reality check.


Not Quite

I really wanted the knit version of Brick and Mortar to be reversible like the crochet version. No practical reason, I just think it’s fun.

Someone saw what I was doing and while they were thinking aloud said “If one was worked on the back…”

I took that thought and stuck it away for a couple of days and then had an idea of how to use that info. I’m not going to go into detail.

I got it! The knit version in now reversible!

Yay! So ripped out the progress I had made on the knitted hat. I started putting the work back in using this new info. After 2 bricks I decided to turn it inside out and have a look. Before I did I noticed I messed up and didn’t work enough rounds of the main color between mortar rounds. Oh well it still looked okay and the slip stitches were fine. I turned the hat inside out and here is what I saw…

Not quite as reversible as I thought. The missing main color rounds really make it noticeable. The color changes are very obvious on the other side of the knit version. It wasn’t as noticeable in the sample I made real quick, photos above, because the colors were different enough to see the mortar color but close enough to not see the color change issue.

Here is the inside of the knitted mitt. You can see the color change stripes. So I ripped the hat for the a second time that afternoon. It is still waiting to be put back in. I’m trying to decide if I want to go down a needle size and if I still want ribbing.

All part of the process.