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  • Jen Johnson began knitting in 2007 while pregnant with her daughter and does most of her knitting for her daughter and son. When she couldn’t find the patterns she wanted, she added designer to her job titles of Navy wife and mother. Jen loves the inspiration she gets from all the beautiful yarns available, as long as she doesn’t get distracted by—ooh, shiny!
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The Birth of a Design, Part III: To Swatch, Perchance to Knit

Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.

Ok, so small, all over stitch pattern with a lot of texture and an even number stitch repeat required.

On my first go-through of the Barbara Walker treasuries, I looked just for all over patterns with a lot of texture. Granted, they didn’t meet all of my criteria as-is, but I had two thoughts: 1) I didn’t want to miss the perfect pattern because I was being too restrictive; and 2) I might be able to alter it to work…or I might love it so much I changed some of my other design decisions. After all, nothing was written in stone yet. Heck, nothing much was written on paper yet.

I was also looking for any other stitch pattern that might catch my eye, including lacier patterns. I did have an idea for a second design, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that one in Lindon Merino or a different yarn, so I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and swatch any possibility. Plus, I figured that as I wasn’t as familiar with Lindon–I only had one project under my belt–playing around with a larger variety of swatches would help me understand better how the yarn knit up. I didn’t start with my Pansies right away, though; I had a quarter skein of Lindon on a slightly more subdued colorway (Cameron) that I wanted to use to see the stitches better. If I could get a stitch pattern I liked, I could try it with the more colorful Pansies.

My first swatch was way outside my planned zone:

unpurled cables lindon crop

I started with this one just out of curiosity. The cable pattern comes from the Un-Purled Cables cowl designed by my friend Sara Marie Rink. I was familiar with the stitch pattern both because I’d knit a few of the cowls and because I’d designed a coordinating hat for Sara. They don’t look like the same stitch pattern because the cable looks so different when pulled tight in a hat as compared to when the cable is allowed to pull in, giving a more organic vine look. And…I liked it in the Lindon. I really liked the look. Just not for what I was doing.

ribbon stitch lindon crop

I moved on to a ribbon stitch from Barbara Walker’s 1st Treasury. I’d been picturing a stitch pattern something like this, so I figured finding it in the Treasury was serendipity. And I liked it once knit up, although it didn’t look like either the swatch in the book or my imagination. The difference was the yarn thickness; I was using an aran weight yarn and it was noted in the pattern that a finer yarn had be used to achieve that effect. I tucked this one away as a maybe someday.

(Or maybe not; not long after I was checking out the designs of one of my favorite designers, Georgie Hallam of Tikki Fabric Addict and found this. Look familiar? Yep…pretty much the same stitch pattern, in pretty much the same way I planned to use it. What can you do? I know what I did–I bought Georgie’s pattern. Looks like she’s working on a cute dress version, too.)

Turkish Stitch A Lindon crop

Turkish Stitch B Lindon crop

My next try involved a lace faggoting stitch separated by either stockinette or garter section. I really liked the difference between these 2–with the stockinette the lace portion bunched up and bulged out a bit (similar to the dimension of the ribbon stitch), while with the garter the lace lay flatter and more open. And this, I decided, was what I was going to do for my other design idea…but it wasn’t going to work for this one.

In fact, I just wasn’t finding much that did look like it was going to work, at least not in accordance with that dim picture in my mind’s eye. Everything was too big…too intricate…not textured enough…cabled…

And I didn’t want cables. But I kept coming back to one stitch pattern in the 1st Treasury, a cabled ribbing that I sort of liked the look of. And they weren’t actual cables. So I tried a variation and got this:

Baby Twists lindon crop

I liked the subtle texture, which I felt the variegated yarn enhanced by putting the colors slightly out of order. But I wasn’t looking for subtle. So I mixed it up.

Twisted Diagonals lindon crop


Yes, this is what I was looking for. This stitch pattern gave a very strong diagonal line that could be felt and seen. But would it work well with Pansies? Would the line still be visible with the colors were so much more different than in Cameron?

Twisted Diagonal swatch (2)

Yes, they were. Not as visible, but I could still see them (and they’re even more visible in person). Perfect–stitch pattern selected. Chances are I’ve “unvented” this stitch pattern, as Elizabeth Zimmermann would say, but until I can find it, I’m calling it the Twisted Diagonal Stitch.

Now to put it in a sweater.


2 Responses

  1. So pretty! I absolutely adore Cameron. I love the photos showing all your different swatches, so I can see what would happen without having to do the work;) You’re awesome!

    • Cameron was a color that I didn’t realize I’d like till I saw it in person on a non-superwash base–I love the subtle coloration. 🙂

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