• Dwynwen at Loch Ness Knitting

For those who hate to swatch

There are many good reasons to make a swatch before starting to knit or crochet a pattern. One of the most important is to check your gauge so that the finished item will be the correct size. You might also check to estimate yarn requirements and colour combinations.

I don't mind swatching and find it solves many issues before they arise, but I sympathise with those who dislike it. At a recent Knit and Natter session one of the attendees was considering various colour combinations for the stripes on her next knit. The Elders of the group, including myself did suggest a swatch but unfortunately could not persuade this particular knitter that swatches are not universally evil.

I'll admit they are not without fault, I recall one particular swatch which misled me to think that my yarn combination of navy and cream stripes was a safe choice only to have the dye run and ruin the garment at the first wash. I'll never forgive that yarn!

Unwilling to relive that unhappy memory I suggested the alternative method of colour wrapping. If you haven't tried this before let me show you how it works.

  1. 1. Start by cutting a long strip of firm card.

  2. The side of a delivery box is perfect for this.

2. Trim the card to the length of your pattern repeat if you know it. If the pattern doesn't specify then I find about 6 inches of card gives a good idea.

You can also trim the width of the card.

3. Mark lines on the card to show the distribution of stripes.

If you want to be precise you can translate the measurements from the pattern gauge.

Otherwise just try to replicate the distribution of stripes.

To use this technique for Fair Isle and stranded knitting focus on the ratio of colours and which colours sit next to each other on the chart.

4. Wrap your yarn around the card using the lines and a guide to change colours.

You can also snip into the sides of the card to hold your yarn ends neatly without having the cut the yarn.

This is particularly helpful if you are working with tiny amounts of yarn and want to save every inch for making.

5. Continue to wrap until you have used all the colours in the pattern repeat.

The finished wrap gives you an idea of which colours sit well next to each other, and how ratios look.

Sometimes yarn in the ball can look high contrast but get lost in the making. This is a quick way to test for that.

It is a great method for planning gradient work.

You can unwrap and try again with different ratios and combinations to help visualise your project before casting on.

Although this method is not as precise as swatch for estimating the amount of yarn required for a pattern it can help to check that your chosen yarn against the Wraps Per Inch (WPI) measure. This is particularly helpful if you are planning a yarn substitution.

These colour wraps are a quick and helpful guide to planning your work. I'd love to see your versions in the comments below.

#knitting #crochet #weaving #yarn #weight #stranded #fairisle #colour #handdyed #Highland

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