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).

Happy Halloween

After two solid weeks of sewing at every free moment I had, I finally finished the kids’ cowboy shirts. What a pain! This was my first time following a pattern as all previous sewing projects had been from tutorials. Let me tell ya, “Simplicity” it wasn’t. Talk about false advertising. I swear that pattern was written in a foreign language that just resembled English. I had to call my sister on a number of occassions, and looked things up on the inetrnet a lot. But I persevered and ended up with a half-decent finished product. The second shirt went much smoother since I had already done it once, though I still found myself scratching my head in some of the same directions. I’m really glad I did it though as I have plans to make the kids’ Christmas outfits, outfits which will hopefully now turn out better for the experience I’ve gained. Still, I have a feeling there will be a lot more hair-pulling and frantic calls to my sister to come.

What the costumes looked like.
What they looked like to everyone else.

Who Are “They” Anyway?

As the tagline says, I knit when They let me. In my case, They refers to the two mini-people who inhabit our home. A is my 3.5 year old boy. He is a cuddly, sweet, charmer who is sharp as a tack and has a very quick wit. P is my 1.5 year old girl whose sweetness is mixed in with a bit of spicy. She is feisty, stubborn and independent, three qualities that I think will take her far in life. They are pretty awesome if you ask me.

I get to knit on the rare occasions when they aren’t demanding 100% of my attention. When I do get to knit  it tends to be projects for them. I love the instant gratification of kids’ knits, and they are by-far the best models. But really, I’m just taking advantage of the young years when they don’t yet have an opinion about what they wear. I’m sure it won’t be long before there is a moratorium on wearing anything made my mom.

Until then I can do this…

A in his Playground Shirt

And this…

P in her Louise Cardigan

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You…

This blog is going to be the launching-board for my explorations into knitwear design. I’ve got a pattern almost ready to go and lots of ideas festering. I’ll be linking to my patterns for download on Ravelry as well as blogging about the creative process along the way. I’ll probably also talk a bit about my other domestic adventures in sewing and cooking.

And now for a sneak-peek at what I’m working on right now…

Back view
Everyday Hoodie, photo by Ryan Barr


Mind your step, there’s a lot of construction going on here. Please bear with me as I get this site up and going. And for that matter, as I get this designing thing off the ground too. Stick with me and we’ll go through this adventure together!