Design Process Series, Installment Two – Yarn Selection and Swatch

Once I had an idea of how I wanted the skirt to look, I needed to move on to yarn selection. In my head I was picturing something with a bit of halo to it, maybe some mohair. Having never worked with it before I didn’t really know what was out there. As it turns out, mohair is usually mixed with something else like silk, and it’s also generally very fine weight, like lace or cobweb. I wanted something a little more substantial than that since otherwise I would have been knitting forever!

I headed to my favorite local yarn store, The Loop in Kensington. I was able to describe what I was hoping to achieve and within minutes the very knowledgeable Diana had it all figured out for me. I came out of there with two yarns: Schulana Kid-Seta, a 70% mohair, 30% silk 2-ply lace-weight yarn; and Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light, a 50% Alpaca, 50% Wool 3-ply sport-weight yarn. The two yarns held together provided just the right weight, strength and texture that I was looking for. I was able to find two coordinating colours that were just beautiful together.      Schul and Berocco Yarn and Swatch

The next step was to draw up a chart of the diamond pattern and then put together a swatch. I’ve learned in the last year or so of designing that “meaningful” swatches are of the utmost importance when designing. They are not only useful for determining your gauge but also trying out increases, decreases, edgings, etc. My swatch for this pattern included not just the diamond motif, but also the stockinette stitch hem that I was planning on incorporating. I was delighted with how this one turned out.

Schul and Ber SwatchIn the end, after submitting my idea to Knit Picks, I ended up with yarn support from them. I was able to find two yarns of theirs that had almost the same properties of those from my original swatch: Aloft Super Kid Mohair, a 75% Super kid mohair, 25% silk lace-weight yarn; and Andean Treasure, a 100% Baby alpaca sport weight yarn. Once received, I made another, smaller swatch in just the diamond pattern with the new yarn.

Knit Picks yarn and swatchThe two swatches matched stitch and row gauge exactly so I was a very happy camper. The two Knit Picks yarns have a little more contrast between the colours, which I actually like in the end. I find it makes the fabric have a tweed-ish look to it. And oooh, is it ever soft!

both yarns and swatches

Stay tuned for the next post – The Submission Process (Yeah, I know, I said that last time, but I realized after the fact that I needed to talk about swatching first).

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