When Swatching Becomes Fun – A Review

Ask any group of knitters about swatching and you’ll probably hear a collective groan. Swatching (the process of knitting a sample of knitting to check gauge, to familiarize yourself with the pattern, to make sure your yarn of choice works for your pattern of choice, etc.) is the bane of many knitters’ existence. However, it is a useful little tool, really; it’s especially useful if you want to knit a garment that will actually fit the intended wearer. It’s also a very good way of familiarizing yourself with, or learning, new patterns or working with an unfamiliar yarn.

When I received an email from Interweave Knits this week, advertising “Creative Estonian Knitting” by Merike Saarniit, I was intrigued. It isn’t a book; it’s a dvd/video download. And it isn’t for a garment of any kind; it’s a swatch made with a variety of Estonian stitches. Merike, who is an American of Estonian descent, teaches a variety of Estonian decorative stitches and techniques. Ok, now I was more than intrigued. I bought it. I downloaded the video and have spent most of today playing with stitches.

Estonianset300For the first time in a very long time, swatching has become fun! I’m very much enjoying her relaxed, easy to listen to explanations of the stitches. I can even see that some of the stitches she demonstrates could make a simple garment completely unique, without much difficulty.

swatch2One advantage of having the video is that I can stop it and play with the stitch patterns at my leisure (it comes with a four page pdf of written instructions for each of the stitches).

swatchHere’s my swatch so far, with five of the stitches already done. (In order, from the beginning to the needles: 1. Wrapped Nupp in Ribbing; 2. Wrapped Nupp over 3 stitches; 3. Knot Nupps; 4. Quilted Embrace; and 5. Horizontal Braid separator.

If you’re at all interested in learning about knitting from other cultures (as I certainly am), I can heartily recommend Merike’s video. Her voice is easy to listen to; the stitches are explained very well and the demos are well filmed. The cost isn’t prohibitive ($24.99 for the DVD disk, $19.95 for the download) and I know that I’ll be referring to the video again and again.

Yup, swatching CAN be fun!




Categories: Blogging, Knitting, Review | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “When Swatching Becomes Fun – A Review

  1. In a situation like that, where you are learning new stitches and techniques, I completely agree with you. Swatching can be fun. I really like that Quilted Embrace stitch. Very attractive, and it would probably make a great scarf. I also like the appearance of the Wrapped Nupp in Ribbing, but I tried Nupps once, and it was a nightmare for me. I was not able to master them to my satisfaction, so I gave up and frogged the project and found something else. But yours are so neat and tidy. You have mastered the Nupp very well. 🙂

    • Sandie, these are completely different nupps than the ones in the Estonian Lace knitting; they’re more like wrapped stitches that are usually done with a third needle and the yarn manually wrapped around the stitches. These nupps are very easy to do and actually kind of fun to play with. In the video, the top (neck) edge of her vest is lined with flat wrapped nupps. You can’t see it in the photo but there are some closer shots of her vest and they’re very visible there.

  2. Chris Campbell

    Wow looks great, it is so interesting seeing traditional knitting techniques from all over the world. Thanks.

  3. I’m happy for your positive review because I too purchased this download but haven’t had time to watch it yet. I’ve got too many projects on the go to do it justice at the moment. Nice thing that it can wait for me!

    BTW the secret to the lace nupps is to make your stitches very very loosely. Much more loose than you would ever think. And make sure your needles are ones with the pointiest tips to make it easier to pick them up on the purl row. (I use Addi Lace circs.) With practice they’ve actually gotten quite fun to do.

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