Everywhere in New York at Vogue Knitting Live, my friend Stephanie and I saw designs by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks. Swonchos! Hot pink and black, lime green, scarlet and gold Swonchos and Sunset Highways were absolutely everywhere!!!! All in all, the marketplace was absolutely glowing with hot pink and lime green:
However, what Stephanie and I noticed and you may as well after staring at the photo above for a moment is how tiring to the eyes hot pink, lime green and other florescents can become when you stare at them for a long time. Unlike the versions we saw in the wild, Caitlin Hunter had devised a subtle, faded southwestern color scheme for her geometric pattern on the Swoncho. When I saw the blocky design translated into shocking pink, black and lime green it looked so stark. Color is entirely a matter of taste and I do not want to take away from anyone else’s palette or choices. But what Stephanie and I took away from our time at VKL is that it was our preference to use natural subtle colors with blocky geometric designs. So when we returned from New York, Stephanie and I both searched for natural color palettes for inspiration. I chose a green forest color scheme with sunlight shining through leaves.
I chose a locally hand-dyed yarn, Handwerks Silky Yak dk, to knit this swoncho because I felt the design looked better when it had a lot of drape. I had a chance to try on a few stiff Swoncho samples in the marketplace that had been knitted in pure wool and I felt they looked a bit like paperdoll clothes. Rather, the width of the design, which calls for fourteen inches of positive ease, seemed to call for a silk blend that would drape well on the body. I used 3 balls of Handwerks silky yak dk in Wisp, and one ball each of Flax, Winged Teal, and Forest. I believe this yarn is only available online or at my local yarn store, Uncommon Threads, in Los Altos, CA as it is a new yarn made by a local hand-dyer, Handwerks. Her ravelry group is here:
I am really pleased with the result of the modifications I made to the pattern. I divided for the sleeves on row 10 of Chart F rather than waiting to form the sleeves a few inches lower down when the stranded pattern was complete. I did this because I wanted real mobility in my arms as I plan to wear this as a work/hiking sweater in cold weather. It was really the gorgeous colorwork of the Ninilchik Swoncho thatdrew me strongly to the design, and soI pretty much made up the rest of the steps as I went along, knitting down from the sleeve separation.
I was also motivated to change the garment shape because my gauge was tighter than expected on the upper body. This is the first time in years I haven't swatched before making a sweater and it came back to bite me. I figured it wasn't necessary because the pattern just came in small and large sizes, and with 14 inches of positive ease, I thought, no problem, why bother? Hahahaha! Guess what? I ended up with a gauge of 26 sts = 4 “ with my stranded knitting instead of the 20 sts= 4” the pattern called for, in spite of the fact that I am quite a loose knitter and I used dk weight yarn and size 6 needles as the pattern required. This meant I ended up with about 4 -6 inches of positive ease instead of fourteen, which meant that it was more like a sweater than a poncho. Could I have unraveled it and started over? yes. I tried it on about twelve times as I knitted the garment and could have changed course anytime, but I loved the effect so much with the fit I was getting that I decided to keep it as is!
What do you think? Do you like the color work panels I added to the sleeve cuffs and hip sections? I thought it was prettier that way. Sorry this isn’t a very detailed blog post, but I am having some severe vision problems as a result of my concussion and can only do a little bit of computer work still. Each post takes about 3 days to put together. However, it’s spring break right now for all my students so I have much more time than usual to write and don't want to waste it! Every moment here and there that I am bright and frisky enough to work with a few photos I will so I can get out another blog post I hope before this week ends!