As cold weather descends, I am increasingly spending time on my knitting needles. I recently attended Rhinebeck for the first time (shorthand for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival) and got myself a copy of the long-coveted Neons and Neutrals book by Aimee Gilles.
In the intro essay, Aimee talks about her love of swatching, the thing so many of us knitters hate the most, and it was like a small fire was lit in my brain. Her approach completely reframed my idea of this pre-knitting task - not a chore that is merely a precursor to the real fun, but an opportunity to mix bases, colors, textures, and create something entirely new each time.
A tenet of Slow Work Sewing is that creativity is born of constraint, and I love the idea of gauge as constraint. Gauge is the box, everything else is fluid. Aimee writes,
If the designer recommends a certain yarn, I start by checking the yarn weight and gauge. And then, I start to think outside the box. What kind of texture do I want? What kind of color story do I want to tell? Knowing that I have to stay within one parameter: gauge. To me, it is a guideline for the thickness of my fabric. Then I go into my stash and I start putting strands of yarn together to achieve the colors and yarn thickness that I want. So this is why I'm always swatching, friends! Feels a bit rebellious, right? But remember there really aren't any rules in knitting, and that's why it's so much fun.
I love this approach so much, I might actually start swatching. FOR FUN.