Here is the small collection of swatching yarns I've purchased recently:
Let's work clockwise, shall we? The red in the upper left is Rowan Calmer, which is 75% cotton and 25% microfiber. Next is Dale Svale, 50% cotton, 40% viscose, and 10% silk. Then comes Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, 65% wool, 35% silk (notice I bought the green and not the muted yellow - I really wanted the yellow as well). Lastly is Maggi's Aran Tweed, 100% wool.
I'm currently working on a swatch with the Calmer. It's really lovely yarn - lots of bounce and very cushiony. The microfiber addition to cotton was a good idea. This yarn will have some memory, but will drape nicely. I'll show that swatch tomorrow - I'm about halfway through a pattern repeat of the Elann Dancing Vines Tunic. I'm not sure it will work quite right for this sweater (a little too bouncy), but it does show off the pattern stitches well. Also, it's a little pricey ($11.25/ball) for a giant tunic sweater.
Here's my other swatch-in-progress
This is Jaeger Trinity, 40% silk, 35% cotton, 25% polyamide. The swatch is knit on 3.5 mm needles, which may look a little big, but anything smaller and I think the swatch would be boardy. One weird thing about this yarn is that periodically, I would have a huge stitch. I don't think I was doing anything differently. Just every now and again I noticed a huge stitch, like I wrapped twice and then dropped a wrap. Very strange.
I like the hand of the swatch, a little crisp and crunchy, but also drapey enough to make a nice summer sweater. I did a seed stitch boarder and then did an increase on either side of a 10 stitch panel every other row. You can see that the piece has a pouch - too many increases. Next time, I'll allow a couple of rows in between the increases to make a nice gentle slope.
I also threw in a pleat (which doesn't quite show up in the photo). I've never made a knitted pleat before - I don't think this was the yarn to try it with. The swatch pleated nicely and the yarn falls beautifully into the folds, but the pleat itself looks like the dog's breakfast. I put 16 stitches on a double pointed needle, placed that behind 16 stitches on my working needle and k2tog for 8 stitches and then ssk for 8 stitches. My problem is with the "join" area. Here's a close up:
Apologies for "over-exposing" but I think you can see the area I'm talking about now. See how the stitches on either side of the join pull away from each other. I know it's because of the decrease stitches, but how can I make it look more, well, pleat-like? Next time, I think I'll try it with 15 stitches behind and do a triple decrease in the center - slip 1, k2tog, psso. The Elsebeth Lavold skein will be a similar looking swatch. I'll keep you posted.