3 kinds of swatches

Swatching! Do you like it? Do you hate it? Why do we swatch?

There are many types of swatches.

There is the “insurance” swatch, the one you make (or know you should make) more or less grudgingly (often more) before you can launch into your new project. This swatch is your insurance for obtaining a finished item that is the size indicated in your pattern, and for not running out of yarn. You have your yarn, you have the gauge information, and you are trying to see which hook will make your hands work to the prescribed gauge.

There is lots to say about the insurance swatch, but right now, let’s just say that though you may not enjoy making it, it can save you a lot of trouble. The insurance swatch is your indispensible partner and your best friend, even if you don’t particularly enjoy spending time with it.

There is also the “research” swatch. You have a pattern, and you are looking for the perfect yarn. Will it be smooth or fluffy? Solid-coloured or variegated? The one you first thought of or something completely different? You start your investigation, you discover how your stitch pattern interacts with different yarns, you make choices, and during your research, you get some good and some bad surprises.

At the end of the day, your research swatch must also respond to the criteria of the insurance swatch. It needs to conform to the gauge in your pattern – or you will need to do a lot of math.

Pictured here is a third kind of swatch, the “exploration” swatch. It’s the kind of swatch that, if all works out (there is no guarantee), can become a new pattern.

Most of the time, when I start my exploration swatch, I know which yarn I want to work with, and I know, or decide rapidly, on the hook I want to use. The actual gauge, the number of stitches and rows per 10 cm or 4”, doesn’t matter. I will indicate the gauge data precisely in the final pattern, of course, but right now, this doesn’t matter at all. The yarn colour is not important. I just use the first light colour I can get my hands on. The colour needs to be light because I need to see my stitches very clearly.

I begin my exploration swatch with a vague idea, some kind of theme floating around in my mind. It might be a family of stitch patterns. It might just be a couple of colours I want to play around with to see how they go together (in this case, of course, I select them from the start). Or it might be much less defined— more like a wish, a longing, an emotion or a simple spark of curiosity.

It’s a long kind of swatch. It takes a long time (don’t ask me how long, I don’t count hours at this stage) and it gets very long – this one is currently 90 cm/34.5”, and it’s not finished. When was the last time you made a meter/yardlong swatch?

It’s not always fun. When making an exploration swatch, I sometimes learn that my initial idea wasn’t good, or that it can’t be made as I thought it could. This is a swatch full of failed initiatives – and that’s the whole point.

Because from the failed initiative sometimes a better idea will arise. The starting point is further and further away, but a new angle comes into view, clearer and clearer, until it becomes truly evident. My heart beats faster when the stitches come together as I want them to, when their appearance is what I had imagined – or something completely new, a treasure I was hunting for without knowing it.

This means that the first half-meter/yard or so in this swatch, as well as dozens of Post-its, notes, drawings and ideas, will seem completely unrelated to the end result. But all these dead ends, halted ventures and failed endeavours were strictly necessary to get there.

There’s no point in showing you a close-up of this swatch, because you would find it unappealing. But in my head, I can already see the finished sample, and I think you will like it.

If all goes well, we can crochet it together this summer.

Spring In the Shade of Leaves

Do you know the shawl In the Shade of Leaves, designed by EclatDuSoleil?

It’s an asymmetric triangle with an elegant, yet simple stitch pattern, and clever shaping.

The finishing touch is a border with small leaves that I find both beautiful and whimsical.

The shawl in the photo was worked in a wool yarn, but for spring and summer, I’d suggest making this shawl in Whirlette, a cotton blend.

Whirlette is slightly more lightweight than the original wool, so you might choose to go down a hook size.
This yarn has excellent yardage, 2 balls are enough to make In the Shade of Leaves!

Until 5th May 2021 (Wednesday), I have a special offer for you: when buying the pattern for In the Shade of Leaves at the same time as 2 balls of Whirlette, the pattern is free!

To take advantage of this offer, simply put the pattern In the Shade of Leaves and 2 balls of Whirlette in your cart – no code needed, the price for the pattern will be deducted before checkout.
Please note that this offer is valid only until midnight 5th May 2021 (CEST), as long as stocks last.

Kits for Rhombique

When making the samples for my Rhombique pattern, I used my own organic cotton in solid and multicolour. It would be a shame not to also offer you kits!

To celebrate the launch of Rhombique, I have a special time-limited offer for you: until 17 March 2021 only, when you purchase the Rhombique pattern and a Rhombique kit at the same time, the pattern is yours for free!

To take advantage of this offer, simply put the Rhombique pattern and the Rhombique kit of your choice in your cart – the price of the pattern will automatically be deducted from your total before payment.

Please note that this is a special offer, valid only until 17 March 2021 and within the limits of available stock.

You can find the kits for the smaller bags via this link, and the ones for the larger bags via this one.

To line my bags, I used the beautiful fabrics from l’Éléphant Zebré.

New pattern: Rhombique

I’m happy and proud to introduce Rhombique, my brand new pattern for drawstring bags in mosaic crochet! Use this wonderful technique to draw diamonds with your hook!

The pattern is written for two sizes. The smaller bag is approximately 18 cm/7″ across and 34 cm/13.5″ tall. The larger bag is approximately 24 cm/9.5″ across and 45 cm/17.75″ tall.

If you are new to mosaic crochet, the pattern includes several links to detailed tutorials to help you understand the technique. Since this is one-row mosaic crochet, I have included two charts: a “universal” one and an “adapted” one, where the latter indicates exactly where to place your dc’s.

Click over to the shop to learn everything about the Rhombique pattern!

How to make a cowl in any yarn, with any stitch pattern!

Several years ago I made a tutorial on how to design your own crocheted cowl.

This weekend, a crocheter came across the “pattern” on Raverly, but couldn’t access it. My website has been updated since, and the link was broken.

The link is now fixed, and the tutorial is updated (the pictures had been lost, too…).

This new-again tutorial is a mini-course on how to design a simple pattern, and how to adapt a stitch pattern worked flat to working in the round!

Check it out here!