Saturday, May 26, 2012

Let the Wheeless/Walker Project Begin!

I have been all over the place with my knitting lately ... starting a project, then getting an idea for something else and starting that ... ordering tons of books, beads, sequins, sparkly threads, embroidery floss, new yarns I've never used before and the list goes on and on. I don't really have a complete explanation for it, except that I know I want to expand my knowledge base ... and venture out of my comfort zone. I want to try new things and challenge myself just to see if I can do it! Don't get me wrong, I still love designing toys ... and I have been working on a whole batch of new ones.
However, as much as I love toys, I'd also like to experiment with accessories ... from vintage-inspired hats to special hand bags and unique novelties that reflect an earlier era. Beginning this journey, I've been led down a path of learning new stitches and new techniques. Let me clarify that: I should say, new to me, rather ... as these are actually very old techniques and old stitches!  And that's how I came upon the not-so-knew idea of working on swatches. Not just any swatches, mind you, but swatches with a goal. I'm sure you're familiar with Barbara Walker's treasuries of knitting stitches. I recently purchased volumes I, II and III. I love every one. There are so many incredible stitch designs jam-packed into each one, I want to knit them all! And, in fact, when you read the beginning of the first treasury, Barbara insists that these stitches must be knit to be realized. You have to read the book with knitting needles and yarn in hand, trying each out as you go along. And then it hit me! That's exactly what I'm going to do! AHA! And that's when I came up with the Wheeless/Walker Project.
Remember the Julie/Julia Project blog that had the office-worker-by-day Julie Powell cooking every recipe in the Julia Child cook book? Well, I decided, why not take every stitch pattern in each of Barbara Walker's treasuries (starting with the first, of course), and knit it? I don't know if I'll make it all the way through, but why not give it a try? Swatches are small, and fairly quick to finish. (It seems I'm all about small projects these days.) AND wouldn't it be great to have a ton of interesting swatches to design something super special when I'm totally finished??? Or even not! Just take all the swatches and catalog them in a big binder for reference. It would make a great tool, don't you think?
One thing: I am not going to get hung up on correct gauge or blocking or anything else. I'm merely trying every stitch to get the feel of it. This is definitely not going to be a perfectionist kind of project.
If you're interested in more about swatches from other knitters working in the Barbara Walker Treasuries, take a look at The Walker Treasury Project. TONS of participants are knitting their swatches and submitting them to this project. I have to admit, my project somewhat pales in comparison; however, making myself photograph and write a little about each one will encourage me to continue my humble attempts.

Okay: Here goes. I started off on the first entry in the book, which is really four stitch variations in one. The simple garter stitch (all knit), followed by stockinette (knit rows/purl rows), followed by crossed stockinette and, finally, on top, twisted stockinette ... both of these are, as the name implies, using stockinette, only inserting the needle differently (through the back, for instance).
I have used Elle Pure Gold yarn for these first two swatches. If you click on the photo, it will get a little bigger and you can see the stitches a little better. I think I'll choose a different color font next time for the lettering of each separate little patch of knitting.

 You can tell that each patch became tighter and tighter as I went along ... the garter-stitch patch being the most relaxed of all four. If I were to use any of these stockinette variations in a project, I'd have to loosen up. Those twisted stitches are super tight! AAACKK!

The second swatch includes the seed stitch (bottom), the moss stitch and, on top, the double seed stitch. I really like the seed stitch patch a lot. In fact, I can see this stitch being put to good use as borders for things. It looks very rich to me and it's very easy to do. Wouldn't it look nice embellished with beads and/or sequins?
Coming up next: The Sand Stitch and the Dot Stitch (also known as the Spot Stitch). Check back soon for more updates!

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