On swatching: Frangipani Caterpillars

I have been sharing my own thoughts ON SWATCHING over the past few days but I thought now would be a good time to hear from other comrades who have been swatching using The KNITSONIK System for our group challenge – #knitsonikfrangipanis.

The idea here was to collectively explore a small set of photos taken by my brother Fergus Ford as an inspiration source for stranded colourwork. The photos were taken in Barbados and feature marvelous Frangipani Caterpillars.

Frangipani Caterpillars photographed by Fergus Ford and used as inspiration for the #knitsonikcaterpillars swatch-a-long
Frangipani Caterpillars photographed by Fergus Ford and used as inspiration for the #knitsonikcaterpillars swatch-a-long

We wanted to explore whether working from the exact same few images would push us towards more similar or diverse results. The results reflect the rich variety of ways in which knitters see and explore the world in stranded colourwork, and I thought you would enjoy seeing them and hearing thoughts on the swatching process from their makers.

Frangipani swatches from L to right by julischkam; Felix; sorosa and Fiberfryd (Ravelry names)
Frangipani swatches from L to right by julischkam; Felix; sorosa and Fiberfryd (Ravelry names)

General comments on the swatching process;

“I’m participating in the swatch-a-long (in the group Knitsonik Comrades) and using a lot of different colors of Blackhill Højlandsuld/Supersoft from my stash.

Such fun…

Not everything is worth using for later projects, though. Quite a lot of the swatch is outside my usual color range, but maybe that’s why I find it so refreshing and it gives me new ideas.
Again, I had to stop at some point, but I probably could have knitted on for months ;-)”

– Fiberfryd

Fiberfryd's beautifully documented process
Fiberfryd’s beautifully documented process

“It was such great fun to do all this swatching;

First I loved the colours, so bright, brilliant, nearly aggressive against each others, very inspiring!

Not at all my colouring, but I loved it very much to experiment with bright blue against bright green with the orange/red in between – wow…

I had really great fun with this and I think it is great to leave the comfort zone! It opens another world and wakes your mind and eyes for more possibilities/combinations.

In the end I have to say for myself: I come back to my beloved colours and can relax after an exciting trip to other sides. That´s great!”

– julischkam

"At the end I tried to leave shape and play with the colours, no matter, if it is sky, plant or frangipani…" - julischkam
“At the end I tried to leave shape and play with the colours, no matter, if it is sky, plant or frangipani…” – julischkam

“I liked the colours on the photo, individually and all together, so I worked with the colours as I found them on the photo and in the yarn shop. A bright yellow was not available, I would have included it…

…All in all I enjoyed the whole process of swatching very much. The finishing (knotting the strands together) is my least favorite part.”

– sorosa

details from sorosa's swatch
details from sorosa’s swatch

On tackling specific details of the caterpillars in stranded colourwork;

“I tried to image those tiny ‘boots’, but I feel I haven’t really explored the caterpillars themselves…”

– Fiberfryd

Ingenious curving shapes representing the shapes of the caterpillars in the tree (brown shapes at the top of the swatch)
Ingenious curving shapes representing the shapes of the caterpillars in the tree (brown shapes at the top of the swatch)
little red caterpillar "boots" by Fiberfryd
little red caterpillar “boots” by Fiberfryd

“I think this is some sort of comic style frangipani… that was the embarrassing part, but – it’s there now…”

– julischkam

beautifully detailed and patterned stripy caterpillars against bright blue skies by julischkam
beautifully detailed and patterned stripy caterpillars against bright blue skies by julischkam
beauteous curved caterpillar shapes by julischkam
beauteous curved caterpillar shapes by julischkam

“For the design I focused namely on two elements, the caterpillar and the branches. For the caterpillar, the challenge was to use only two colours in a row, especially a curved caterpillar asks for at least three colours ;)!”

– sorosa

sorosa's lovely take on the curvy shapes made by the caterpillars in the tree
sorosa’s lovely take on the curvy shapes made by the caterpillars in the tree

On translating the branches and background sky into stranded colourwork;

the luminous blue Barbadian sky in the background
the luminous blue Barbadian sky in the background
gorgeous branches and sky by Fiberfryd
gorgeous branches and sky by Fiberfryd
leaves and branches against sky by julischkam
beautiful leaves and branches against sky by julischkam

“Here I tried the trees and leaves against the blue sky, red ground and the shimmering background. I think I lost this one…”

– julischkam

leaves and branches against the sky by julischkam, reflecting much of the subtlety in Ferg's original photo
leaves and branches against the sky by julischkam, reflecting much of the subtlety in Ferg’s original photo

“The branches took most of my time. I was not sure wether to use a regular, symmetric or asymmetric pattern or a more irregular pattern. I even considered to knit a section randomly. Finally I chose two asymmetric but regular patterns.”

– sorosa

lots of gorgeous leaves and branches by sorosa
lots of gorgeous leaves and branches by sorosa

Some conclusions;

The crazy palette struck us all as being somewhat adventurous, but venturing from familiar palettes and comfort zones was useful for broadening knitterly horizons

Everyone picked different details from the photos from which to work and then created small briefs for developing/finessing those ideas… whether it was coming up with the right curvy shape to suggest caterpillars, experimenting with the shading and motifs for suggesting branches against the night sky, or investigating how best to represent the dots on a caterpillar’s head…

dots on the caterpillar's body by julischkam
dots on the caterpillar’s body by julischkam
"I loved the little dots and started them quite big." - julischkam
“I loved the little dots and started them quite big.” – julischkam
Irregular dots on the caterpillar's head, dots and greens on the branches on which the caterpillar crawls
Irregular dots on the caterpillar’s head, dots and greens on the branches on which the caterpillar crawls

Even when the same very specific obsession grips several knitters, the fact that we are usually using different yarns and that we see the world differently means that our results are never exactly the same…

From top to bottom, Fiberfryd, julischkam and sorosa tackle curving caterpillar lines in related but different ways
From top to bottom, Fiberfryd, julischkam and sorosa tackle curving caterpillar lines in related but different ways

…but one thing that a few of us found is that when you are stuck, a vague or generalised pattern can enable you to simply explore the song of background and pattern colours against one another;

“The dots where for me very catchy, little dots of bright colours against the more subtle colours (well, not too subtle the background I have to admit, this is what I need to learn)”

– julischkam

"At the end I tried to leave shape and play with the colours, no matter, if it is sky, plant or frangipani…" - julischkam
“At the end I tried to leave shape and play with the colours, no matter, if it is sky, plant or frangipani…” – julischkam
"I think that little lice patterns (evenly spaced dots) are incredibly useful for many, many things… they can really help with figuring out a shading sequence and are really flexible from a maths perspective, so could be applied to many garments…" - Felix (in Ravelry group)
“I think that little lice patterns (evenly spaced dots) are incredibly useful for many, many things… they can really help with figuring out a shading sequence and are really flexible from a maths perspective, so could be applied to many garments…” – Felix (in Ravelry group)

I hope you have enjoyed this collection of thoughts and images on collective swatching; thanks to everyone who participated and to those of you still knitting Frangipanis for this swatch-a-long! I think your swatches are AMAZING,

YOURS IN FRANGIPANIS,
Fx

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One Response to On swatching: Frangipani Caterpillars

  1. I’m reading through your posts on swatching, having only recently found your blog, and they are just wonderful. This one is such a great example of how we can all interpret the same thing differently and that in itself leads to creativity. I’m really looking forward to my own experimentations.

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