I really like how this little tomten, which I am making for the Dulaan Project, has turned out! Just the I-cord to hold in the hood and the zipper to go. Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears; Yarn: Philosopher's Wool (the orange and pink were dyed with Kool-Aid).
Brown Sweater Status Report
Well, I began swatching the Brown Sweater colors and was not happy. It's the interaction of the olives and the beiges that doesn't excite me. So, inspired by the photo of a quilt that I fell in love with, I delved into my box-o-mini-hanks to come up with a different colorway, abandoning the greens and adding gray, black, and madder.
Feral Rules About Swatches
So that you can learn from my bitter experience, I now offer my Rules of Swatches. Trust me. Really.
1. You must swatch for color. Colors do not exist in a vacuum and have amazing and often unpredictable effects on each other. Even if you have studied the color wheel. Even if you saw a marvelous example of just these colors in a store window. Even if you have the yarn and have placed it in a basket and it looks great that way.
2. You must save EVERY swatch.
3. You must label every swatch. Guaranteed: You will NOT remember which colors you used in the swatch, no matter what you think right now.
4. You must give yourself time and distance from your swatch. Block it, hang it on the wall, stare at it from different angles. The thing of beauty in your lap might not look so great from 4 feet away; conversely, the mess of ugliness you are staring at with your glasses pushed down your nose could look marvelous at a reasonable distance.
5. You must not get so enthused about your brilliant idea that the thought of swatching gets batted away like an irritating gnat.
6. You must make your swatch large enough. Preferably two pattern repeats wide by two full patterns tall. Yes, I mean it! The thing is, patterns look different when they are repeated than when seen in isolation. If the only way you can do this is to make a full project, by all means make the swatch into a pillow or a hat or a bag. OK, truth told I don't always do this, but I'm willing to live with danger (see Rule #7). (Those skilled at such things can scan a single repeat and mimic the same effect by pasting multiples of the swatch--you need an accurate color scanner, but this is a time saver!)
7. You must be ready to try something different if your first (or second or third) brilliant idea doesn't pan out. Take the long view. Think process. Think of learning experiences. Save the disasters so you don't repeat them. Save the disasters because sometimes they won't seem like disasters later on.
Added later in the afternoon:
Hints for Swatching
These don't have the force of a rule, but are handy nonetheless.
1. As Margene points out, you don't have to start each swatch from scratch--they can form a wonderful long tube or scarf!
2. If there is one color that doesn't seem right, you can duplicate stitch over it to see how a different one would work--no need to do an entire new swatch!
This swatch shows changing patterns and colors, labeled with little tags, and some duplicate stitching here and there!
This is the first party we've had here since I moved to Berkeley 7 months ago. My well-laid plans have been disrupted by the fact that my car has been in the shop for two days and my shopping list is a bit too long to carry any distance. We might be left with tap water, lemons from the tree out back, and some canned tuna. Knitters tend to be flexible, though. I hope... Just kidding, J left his car at home today so I can take care of business.
By the way, Ryan's Cuzzin Tom (his real name is Konchog Norbu), who has been a frequent and well-loved member of Ryan's commenter community, has started a fascinating blog about his upcoming trip to Mongolia: all the why's and wherefore's and history. I followed his links to the stories about how holy writings and objects from the monastery in Mongolia were hidden by generations of faithful caretakers with awe and joy. Those interested in how religion is kept alive through periods of intolerance (but who also want an easy read) might enjoy the mysteries by Eliot Pattison, which are based in Tibet. Skull Mantra is the first one.