Feather and Fan Shawl, Swatching

Feather and Fan Shawl

This shawl has been a process of chart, knit, rip, repeat. I finally found the formula I needed to make a half pi shawl with the feather and fan stitch.

This is the first version of this shawl. I am using 100% non super-wash wool in DK weight. I am adding beads to this one. Beads are always optional.

I will be making a second version, holding 100% non super-wash fingering together with a suit silk blend lace yarn. This will give the piece a slight halo and be so soft!

As always there will be tutorial videos to support you along the way. Including one on how to place beads, when to place beads and tool options for placing beads.

Happy making!

behind the scenes, Swatching

Knitted Mitered Squares

A swatch of course.

I tried a couple of different increases to see which one I liked best. Blocking will tell the final story but that won’t happen until tomorrow.

Then I tried two different bind off methods to see which one most closely matched the give and stretch of the slipped stitch side. Above is the normal bind off and below is what I learned when working lace, that one is the winner.

Front and back views are important and help to avoid surprises later. I measured this one too but since I used different increases, bind offs and want to block it, it isn’t the final measurements.

The last thing that I have to play with is joining and the best way to do that. I want it to be a join as you go piece and I want it to look nice in both sides, even when joining different colors.

After I get the knitted ones figured out, I will start on the crocheted ones. I think some parts of that might be easier but only time will tell.

behind the scenes, Brick and Mortar, Swatching

More Swatches

I’m sure you all probably think that all I do is swatch because that’s mostly what I’ve been sharing here. The swatches are needed but also I have been only working on one project and it can only be shred so much.

These swatches are needed for a video shoot later this week. They are videos for the Brick and Mortar Accessory patterns that will be released next week.

I will be shooting videos for both knit and crochet and for both right and left hand knitters and crocheters.

Here are my swatches or the beginnings of them and a note for what I’m doing. I shoot in batches but don’t edit that way. This combination works best for me.

Some are specific stitch techniques and some are finishing techniques. I love to help stitchers learn something new and level up their stitches.

What would you like to learn?

behind the scenes, Swatching

Swatching at the Coffee Shop

One of things I have added to my weekly routine this year is going and working on the computer at the coffee shop down the street. I am not a coffee drinker but they made their own chai and it is good.

I also take along a bit of yarn and either needles or hooks to work on an idea between files. Today is some orange worsted weight from Cascade and crocheting mitered squares.

I’m using my newest crochet hook. It is from Crochic Styles and I love their work!

The sounds of the steamer and espresso machine as well as the click, clack, ding of a type writer fill the air. This is a coffee where people come to hang out and work. There’s a psychology professor, a prepped and many others who come through. I’m not distracted by their conversations but I do “listen” with interest.

These are my swatches for the afternoon. At 9 is single crochet, noon is double crochet and 6 is half double crochets. I am doing them with increasing because then you can stop when it’s the size you want instead of guessing.

The crochet hook is called Say Yes! and is a size J.

The files I was working on are for a workshop that I am hoping to launch in April. I will be doing a beta test of it, if you want to be part of it sign up for my newsletter because that’s where I’ll share that info.

Happy Making!

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