Almost a year ago, I decided I needed some cute accent pillows for my bed and I had been eyeing this book called, Pretty Little Pillows (Pretty Little Series). All the pillows are really cute and look like they take minimal time. I’ve sewed plenty of pillows in the past, so these looked a little more involved, but by no means intimidating for a beginner sewer. I found a pillow in there that involves Cathedral Window Quilting, because my first quilting experience wasn’t going to be hard enough with just squares, I had to make it complicated. And that sentence just written sums up most things in my life that I do. Jump into the hardest project first, not the easiest and somehow pull it off.
A year ago, this is where I was at with it.
Here’s where I am at now.
I like this so much that now I am thinking that I should make King sized pillow shams with this entire scheme…and I need 2 of them, because I just can’t help but make this project bigger. I really like how it came along. It is completely hand sewn, no machine here since I was going for an invisible stitch look. Part of me wants two big shams and part of me wants to put a fork in it and only sew 1 more small pillow. Decisions, decisions. These were not very difficult to throw together. It looks more complicated than it is. It is just time consuming, but if you are already knitting, you probably aren’t shying away from lengthy craft projects.
The only reason it’s taken me so long to sew them is because I also juggle work, school, wifely duties and mommy duties. This small pillow is really a short project and of the combined time I spent on it so far, I’ve probably only been working on it 3 evenings while watching TV.
I have compiled a list of things I have learned from knitting swatches over the years. In knitwear, swatches are imperative! In knitting toys or blankets, it isn’t as imperative unless you are knitting to certain dimension requirements. I’m going to discuss why swatches are so important for knitting garments and what they tell you about the fiber you are using.
Tip 1: Only buy 1 skein of your desired yarn.
Never buy more than 1 ball of yarn for a project until you are certain that this is the yarn that will work best with your pattern and lifestyle. The reason why is very simple, if you buy all the yarn for a project and then after knitting a swatch, find out it won’t work for your project, you could be out $60 – $200 with a pile of yarn and no project for it. I’ve done this so many times and this is how you feed the stash. If you are a minimalist or you just don’t believe in wasting money, only buy that one skein. If it isn’t a match made in heaven, chances are that you aren’t out more than $20 and the upside is that there are plenty of one skein projects out there to repurpose the yarn with and since you already knitted a swatch, you will know if that yarn will be suitable for a future project.
Tip 2: Pattern in the round, means a swatch in the round.
If the project you are working on is knitted flat, then knit your swatch flat. If your project is knitted in the round, knit your swatch in the round. I cannot tell you how many times I did not swatch in the round for a project that was supposed to be knitted in the round. Every time I failed to swatch in the round, I ended up with a garment that fit poorly. The reason why you want to swatch in the manner that you are knitting the project in is because your tension is different for a purl stitch versus a knit stitch. Knit stitches tend to have a higher tension than purl stitches do. When you are knitting plain stockinette in the round your stitches will all be tighter than flat stockinette, resulting in a smaller garment, when you are purling reverse stockinette in the round, your stitches will all be looser than flat reverse stockinette, which means a larger garment. Ysolda has an ingenious way to swatch in the round and this is the way that I swatch in the round.
Its been years since I have posted here, but that does not mean I haven’t been knitting. As a matter of fact, I have been knitting quite a bit off and on over the years and as I have been knitting, my knowledge has increased tremendously about it. For example, always swatch and swatch in the way that you would be knitting…swatch in the round if you are knitting in the round, swatch flat if you are knitting flat. I have made many an error just from bad swatches. Not that swatches can be bad, but bending the swatch to what you want to hear to start a project faster or to use that yarn that you think you want to use with the project is just bad practice…lets not lie to ourselves, trust the swatch and take note of what it is telling you. More on that in a future post.
My last project I knitted was Ysolda’s Smith. I have a four year old daughter now, and she got into my knitting books a couple months ago and requested that I make her a hedgehog. She loved him in the Whimsical Little Knits 2 Book and begged me to get started on it. Although I have knit many toys, I had not knitted a single one for my own child. So of course, I started it immediately! Here’s my finished product. It turned out beautifully and the pattern was super simple to follow. This requires a set of sock needles, I think it was too tiny to magic loop, but you could certainly try it. I was able to knit it in the span of a few days.