Monday, May 20, 2013

A swatch

This all started quite unexpectedly.

I was sorting out my sock yarn stash and was sighing at the amount of yarn and wondering when the sock knitting mojo would return and what if it never did - what would I do with all that skinny yarn then. I picked this ball of yarn, its ball band long gone.
I probably have had it on the needles at some point and then frogged it all. I was going to have the yarn on the needles once again and I cast on for a plain vanilla sock, after all there was so much going on with the yarn, it would not need any extra excitement - or so I thought. I knit the ribbing and I kept stopping and pulling the ribbed beginning on my hand. I resisted for a while, but gave up after I realized that this yarn wanted to be a mitten. I was not thrilled with the idea, since this was a big ball of yarn and I would have lots of left-over and then what? While socks would have used most of the yarn, small mitts would only make a small dent to the ball.
I was set to knit plain fingerless mittens - great, the project just became smaller and smaller requiring less and less of yarn. After the ribbing was done, I was little bored already and decided to knit these top down. I have never knit mittens top down, so there would be some thrill there but not enough and I got out my stitch dictionary and found simple and easy pattern that would break possible pooling a little bit, if there was going to be any.
Top down or the other way around does not make that much difference in the process. The mitten was extremely quick to knit and I was left a little astounded. It came together so quickly that as I was casting off the stitches, my soul was just completing the thumb gusset. I kept putting it on and getting it off several times not believing that it was done. It could not be, nothing should be that quick. And then there remained the fact that I was not so happy with the outcome. The yarn was too busy after all and I was not sure if I needed another one or if this should end up being a swatch, after all this was my first top down mitten and would perfectly qualify as a swatch.
I decided to call it a swatch but then if there was no purpose for this little thing, maybe I could experiment little more with it. Maybe some color exercise... How could I tame this yarn? Could I add something to it, that would trick the eye and pull it off the surface and give it a place to rest? What could that be? Quilters have a saying that if the planned colors don't match, add some more.
For a long time I have wanted to try wool applique on knitted surface, but have not really found a place for it, so why not try it here, after all this was just a swatch.
I took out my small wool felt pile, believe me, it is very small, just a few pieces, but it is the real thing, not the acrylic substitute. I don't have that many colors to choose from, I had to compromise, and this is what I did: couple of leaves out of the violet wool, sewed it with crewel wool (from Renaissance Dyeing) using back stitches, and a row of chain stitches.
And then some beading. I am not good in using beads, but I have been good in collecting them, always wanting to find an excuse to buy use them.
I think I have found something that I really like, maybe even love. And ok - so I am making another one. And when that is done, the yarn is going back to the sock yarn box although there is probably too little there for a pair of socks.

Wool with you,


  1. I love these mitts and the wool applique is just so perfect for them.
    Well done,

  2. what beautiful mittens!! I must try this.
    don't fret about the leftover sock yarn. I play with mine. one year I made a wonderful blanket with sock leftovers - it is warm with out being too heavy. and now I am obsessed with making mini pocket pals - little toys for charity.I knit owls & fox and monkeys and pigs. there is no end to what you can make with a little leftover yarn
    a knitting friend in wisconsin

  3. annie21:57

    The mittens are so beautiful and unique. I love that you took us through your process of designing them. Oh if I could be so clever ...sigh.

  4. Lovely, beautiful mittens!!!

  5. You take a wee mitten and make it into a masterpiece!

  6. swatch or not, I love these colorful mittens... (doesn't it look like a zauberball? )

  7. Anonymous05:07

    love the combination of beading and the chain stitch!

  8. Sigh. I wish my swatches were as beautiful. And as useful.