Craving to Swatch (Part I)

Many of you enjoy crafts like knitting or crocheting as much as little loom weaving. But … how many of you have a big happy smile on your face when it comes to swatching for a sweater, or a shawl, or whatever project, to figure out the right needle size to hit the pattern gauge?

I do not support skipping swatching, I just don’t like doing it. I do feel rewarded every time I swatch, with the peace of mind that “it will work”, but I still find myself weaseling around that daunting task of knitting a 5”x5” at minimum to be sure I have the right tools.

However, ask me to swatch a new yarn on the hexagon pin loom, and I drop whatever I’m doing and go for it!

I crave hexagon swatch weaving!

I like to use the original TURTLE Loom™ (buy) for swatch weaving, since it produces a good sized sample in little time. Without any big preparation I know in 10 minutes or less if a yarn will work well for hexagon weaving. My only problem is that I usually cannot stop after making just one hexagon.

As a bonus of hexagon swatch weaving, there is no yarn or work wasted. The swatch can be the first hexagon towards your project, or you can collect those swatches for a future crazy-quilt project.

This time of year is particularly “swatch friendly” because there are so many new yarns released!

For example, the Berroco® company launched several new yarns and also new colors in some of their existing lines.

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Berroco® Ultra® Wool was released last year but is now entering its first full fall/winter season. I will say that this yarn is my new favorite superwash wool. It comes in 64 vibrant colors and it weaves smoothly, but what really convinces me is the nice bounce! I cannot make a project recommendation for this yarn, because I think it will suit pretty much any purpose. My dream would be to get all 64 colors and make a patchwork afghan, using the 2” TinyTURTLE™  … (yea right!)

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The first new Berroco® yarn that I swatched was Berroco®Catena™, a very airy chain Extrafine Merino wool. I am skeptical when it comes to stretchy yarns like Catena. It needs to be woven with minimum tension. However, the swatch results were stunning: A feather light yet dense fabric! I made another swatch on the TexaTURTLE™ and it is clear that this yarn will make the lightest and softest cuddle afghan you can imagine.

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Then there is Berroco® Bento™, a Superwash Merino wool with 20% silk, the latter adding a nice sheen to this yarn. Bento weaves easily and creates a very soft fabric that highlights the “woven” character well (in knitting you would say it has good stitch definition). The fabric is classy, and it holds its shape very well. I have earmarked this yarn to make a vest or a cardigan, convinced that it will be of “statement” character.

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Lastly there is Berroco® Quechua™, and in my opinion this is the queen of the new yarns. Extrafine Merino wool meets with Baby Alpaca and 20% Yak, the latter is labeled by Vogue Knitting as “fall’s ‘it’ fiber”. The yarn is fingering weight and needs to be woven with two strands. This will create a beautiful basket weave, and the pearly twist of Quechua highlights the effect even more. The resulting fabric is not just beautiful, but it also convinces with its royal drape. It makes me think of a generous triangle shaped shawl that will look festive but will also keep the chill away as needed.

 

Another yarn that I have been curious about is love-knitting’s “Paintbox Yarns Simply Aran”, an affordable 100% acrylics yarn that comes in 60 colors. Some acrylic yarns just feel stiff when woven, so I wanted to sample the Paintbox to find out how this heavy worsted yarn turns out. I ordered a fall themed bundle of 5 colors. And … what a delight! It weaves smoothly, the colors are pleasant, it creates an even fabric and stays soft to the touch. In short, it’s a winner. I think this will be a rewarding yarn for heavy-use items, like a car blanket, a stadium seat cushion, or any size throw for any age that will be cuddled a lot.

 

Lastly, Caron® is expanding their lovely Yarnspirations™ “cakes” lines. With new styles and new colors, it is hard to decide which one to weave first. There is more to be said about those cakes, but for today’s topic let’s take a quick look at two of the new releases.

 

Firstly, there are several new color runs for the already tried and proven original Caron® Cakes™. We used this yarn in the “sheep” baby blanket and already know that this is an easy to weave, soft, pleasant yarn to work with. I sampled the new color run “Turkish Delight”. With its subtle country fall colors it could be anything, from a table runner to a throw or a snugly shawl. You could use the colors randomly, as stripes, puzzle blocks, or flowers. It’s a go-to yarn for beginners to advanced, it will not disappoint.

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Secondly, my daughter tried the new Caron® Big Cakes™, and of course she swatched by making “big” hexagons on the TexaTURTLE™. We are amazed about the yarn quality and the interesting colors of these 100% acrylics cakes: The yarn creates a soft fabric, and the tonal shades within each color add style.

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The last time I saw the cakes pictured above came with my daughter’s words “Mama, I’m going to take these upstairs for now … I think this is an afghan for my sofa …”

What’s your favorite yarn right now? Have you sampled it yet on your hexagon pin loom? Did it inspire you towards a certain project?

 

PS: Nope, nobody’s sending us free yarn. We hunt for sales and go to the store and use our coupons like other human beings.

PSS: Part II of “Craving to Swatch” will be published next week, and it will cover variegated yarns.

PSSS: If you read all the way down here … WOW!

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