Swatching Checklist (And Boo To The "Swatch Police"!)


Swatches for the Summer Shawlette

The Swatch is not just an annoying little politeness ritual, taught by the Ms. Manners of Knitting. It is literally a sample of your finished knitting, akin to the fabric samples you see in furniture stores. Ever bought a sofa using one of those samples, only to feel a bit shocked at how the floral pattern looked once it was spread halfway across your living room? Yeah. We can all live without that kind of shock therapy in our knitting, thank you very much—and that's where a good swatch comes in. If done correctly, a bit of knitting in a properly-sized square can tell you a lot of things about what is going to happen when you cast on those 432 stitches for your husband's raglan pullover! But the information you can glean from The Swatch is only as good as The Swatch itself.

Here are some tips for successful, accurate swatching.

1. Make your swatch big enough.

Ten stitches wide and four rows long is not enough. Why? Because the cast-on row, the bind-off row, and the edge stitches can draw in your knitting considerably. My rule of thumb is four inches long: one inch to work off the effects of the cast-on row, two inches to get the rhythm of your knitting even enough for a gauge measurement to be accurate, and then another inch before the bind-off to offset the effects of that row. Same rule applies for the width: Make the swatch wide enough so you can measure in the middle!

But at what point is it smarter to actually forgo the swatch and just make the item? Mary asked that question, and then went right on to give a great answer: "This must certainly be true for baby socks! Turns out the wrong size? Change needles sizes and just try again!" Thanks, Mary. Couldn't have said it better myself. Socks, baby items, purses…you may decide that some items do not require a gauge swatch, and that's completely up to you! There are no Swatch Police. I promise. (If there were, I would've been locked up in Gauge Jail years ago.)


Now is not the time to measure gauge!

2. Don't measure on the needles.

The needles are going to pull on the top row of live stitches, distorting the rows and stitches below them. (You aren't going to wear your sweater while it's still on the needles, are you? Nope.)

3. Use the same needles for the swatch as you would use for the actual project.

I knit more tightly on bamboo needles than I do on plastic ones. Similarly, anyone's knitting speed and rhythm is going to be different on dpns than on circulars. This is one common source of problems for folks who do a swatch (on dpns) only to find they cannot get gauge on the entire project (worked on their circular needles). Be consistent.

Corollary: If gauge is given in the round, work your swatch in the round. Think about this: Stockinette worked flat means that half the rows are purled—and what if your purl gauge is a bit off from your knit gauge? That would cause the gauge of a flat square to be different that the gauge of a tube—because stockinette worked in the round is only knitting, no purling.


Unblocked, this swatch is hard to measure accurately

4. Measure the swatch BOTH before and after it is blocked. Here's why:

You want to know what water is going to do to your knitting. Will it shrink it or stretch it? Either way, wetting and drying your swatch before measuring will let you know what to expect from blocking your finished piece.

All the schematic measurements and finished measurements given in knitting patterns are taken after the garment is blocked. The tech editor re-checks and re-measures the blocked, finished garment, and then double-checks that the stitch counts given will produce the sizes in the pattern. If you want to know what finished size to make, or you want to know how your yarn and stitch choices will affect the finished piece of knitting, you have to have a swatch that is blocked just as the finished garment is blocked.

You want to know how your before-blocking knitting measures up to the post-blocking piece, particularly in terms of length. Most knitting patterns will say something like "Knit until piece measures 13" from cast on"—but this is UNBLOCKED knitting. What if it shrinks lengthwise after you block it? If you know beforehand how much your swatch shrinks when blocked, you can make adjustments in length as you knit, avoiding a nasty, too-short surprise later.

Last but not least: Banish The "Swatch Police"

Yes, you should swatch—but if the Swatch Police are the only reason you are swatching, then where's the fun in that? Knitting is supposed to be our little corner of the Fun World, and although swatching is important for all kinds of technical reasons, the last word in why you swatch needs to come from you yourself. Give yourself Swatch Encouragement in whatever way works for you: plan to use your swatches for beautifully clever projects; reward yourself with a lovely journal to keep your swatches in (and watch your collection grow!); think of swatching as your personal knitting design time.

How do I motivate myself to swatch? It's all knitting. I love to knit, and swatches are knitting, and so when I am swatching, I am knitting—and thus just doing more of what I love.



Next week: The UFO Poll, and answers to your questions about gauge and swatching—I've been collecting questions out of the comments to answer in next week's posts, so ask 'em if you've got 'em!




Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Six inches of cables for the man I love.



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84 thoughts on “Swatching Checklist (And Boo To The "Swatch Police"!)

  1. Hi all,

    I used to be a no-swatcher, but I’ve learned my lesson the hard way when I had to rip out the first few inches of a sweater a few times, before getting it right. Most recently I’ve swatched for socks, the swatch turned out to be a tube almost as long as a whole sock. But seeing the HUGE difference in looks and measurements made just by changing needle sizes and patterns was a real eye-opener. I’m keeping my swatches as emergency yarn, in case I run short. If I don’t then I have a nice little chronology of my efforts and progress.

  2. Here’s my swatch/gauge question. If a pattern just says gauge is 4 stitches per inch, does that mean in stockinette? Garter stitch? In the pattern? Some will specify, but a lot that I’ve seen don’t.

  3. Thanks for such a helpful article on swatching. It made a lot of sense and I found the bit about blocking both before and after swatching very interesting, especially the bit about blocking affecting the length of a garment. So that’s why my garments sometimes end up shorter than anticipated! I’ve never been one to swatch before embarking on the real thing but I shall certainly take the time in future.

  4. I know, I know I must swatch! And I do–but the skimpy kind–I don’t wash and block. I HATE to buy extra yarn for swatching.

    I did just make 2 scarves though (dfferent yarns), that were considerably longer after washing/blocking (of course they were just scarves so longer is ok)–and this makes me think about doing real swatches–but I don’t know if I can change my old ways.

    Thanks though, for at least making me THINK about it!

  5. I do swatch for some things, but one way to avoid needless swatching for a sweater is to start your knitting with a sleeve. It’s not too wide – a pretty good size for a swatch. If you hit it right gauge-wise, you can just continue on with it and if not, you can rip it out and redo. I usually do my sleeves first, then the back, and then, when I’m totally confident that my knitting is looking its best, I’ll do the front of the sweater. Sleeves are usually in motion, bending and moving, not hanging straight like the front and back of a sweater, so if you’re a little off on the sleeves, you can usually live with it. Bonnie in Ohio

  6. This is the first time that I have seen the reasons for swatching all in one place, and I am very surprised to find that, even though I don’t like it, this will be invaluable to me, a novice knitter who would like to take the next “baby step” soon. Thanks, Sandi, for helping me understand that this is not a waste of yarn, or even more valuable, TIME!

  7. I swatch, no problem there. I usually don’t bind off but put the swatch on a temp cord or scrap yarn, in case I need that yarn later to finish the project, especially for realy pricey yarns that I don’t want to buy extra. String purl cotton, for example through the end row of stitches, long enough to tie the ends together in a knot. That way it won’t come out when you wet and dry the swatch and it will lay flat to measure.

  8. I do swatches, and then once I’m close, make an adult sized hat. I knit almost everything on circulars, and have a Denise set, so needles aren’t a problem. Since I usually make changes of some sort, the hat lets me see how the ribbing is going to look, how the decreases will work in, and by the end of a hat, if I even still like the pattern. Wash and dry, and see if I like the results. It adds about 10 hours of knitting to the project, but is worth it. The hats are easy to give away if you want, and like Gabriele, I have some emergency yarn if I need it.

  9. I swatch for most things. I’ve only had a couple of ‘gauge accidents’ and luckily they were small things (hats) and easily fixed.

    I’ve been knitting a few years and my knitting has changed (and will), so I continue to swatch, even with the yarns I use a lot.

    I get sloppy with swatching- I measure on the needles and do flat swatches for things that will be knit in the round. But I measure the FO and have a good idea of how things will change. No disasters- yet.

  10. I agree with Bonnie that using a sleeve as your swatch is a smart way to start your sweater. This way you’ll be well on your way, provided your swatch is on gauge. This is also a good place to try out new stitch patterns or a cable up/down the middle of the sleeve. By the way what is that stitch pattern in the photo of “now is not the time to measure gauge” – it’s a beautiful pattern – would you like to share? PLEASE! Thanks for all your great tips!! Sue (also from Ohio)

  11. Thanks for the swatching encouragement. I’m always so anxious to get that project started, I just don’t want to swatch. Sometimes I’ve put in quite a bit of time and stitching before I realize my gauge is off. Then I rip, and that’s never fun.
    Sandy B

  12. I swatch anything where fit is imperative or where I am not sure which needle size to use (my knitting tends to be looser than guage), but I almost immediately rip out the entire swatch and use it for the garment in question. I was raised to do this by a mother and grandmother who survived the Depression, and it always made perfect sense to me to just not keep extra bits around!

  13. One way to get an accurate gauge on a swatch when the project is to be knit in the round without knitting the swatch in the round, is to knit a row, brek the yarn, slip the stitches to the other end of the needle and knit the next row. This way every row is knit, but the fabric is still stockinette.

  14. When I swatch, I turn the squares into dishcloths or afghan squares. It depends on whether the yarn is cotton or not. I always buy extra anyways just out of habit.

    For circular gauge testing, I cast on enough stitches to do the gauge and then some. I turn these swatches into sachets or small purse that carry the essential for a night on the town or for a trip at the farmers market.

    Cora Shaw

  15. Sandi, YOU have made a swatch believer of me. Had no idea this ol’ dog could learn a new trick. I honestly never gave a thought to blocking and then re-measure.
    Thanks!

  16. I usually swatch, but I don’t always block it…because I never know if I need that yarn to have enough for the FO.

    Do knitting patterns yarn requirements take into account swatching? If so, how much do they figure you’ll use?

    It’s a terrible conundrum, If I buy a really nice yarn for a project, I don’t want to a $15 swatch lying about, but at the same time, I don’t want my (very expensive) garment to come out wrong. What’s a knitter to do?

  17. I know swatching is important, I’ve swatched for socks and baby hats etc, but I’ve never really knit anything where I thought it was important to block the swatch. So, when you block the swatch do you actually pin in down or just get it wet and do the heel press? Hand heel not foot heel! LOL You know, if you made 4″ swatches of everything you knit and blocked them into nice little squares you would be creating a very unique quilt or afghan. If you made it into a wall hanging you could have the specific information on the wrong side of each square, but I’m sure you already did that!

  18. Why I don’t make big swatches:

    I’m afraid I’ll run out of yarn! I know this may sound ridiculous, but I worry about wasting the yarn needed to make a 4×4 square. With patterned sock yarn, my inner miser becomes especially perturbed. She doesn’t want to have to pull the same amount of yarn off her second ball in order to create a sock that matches the first one.

    Tell me I’m cray!

  19. I am a firm believer of swatching, but I hate it!!
    I am always anxious to get started on my project. I like what Bonnie wrote about starting on the sleeve. I always pull out my swatches and use the yarn right away.
    Ann

  20. I am a swatch convert! I used to hate it, but now I see it as the most creative part of the whole knitting experience. It’s a chance to play with new yarns or yarn combinations and get to know how they look and feel with different stitches and at different guages. If I hit on a particularly nice yarn/stitch combo, it’s a pleasure to design the whole project around it.

  21. I am a swatch convert! I used to hate it, but now I see it as the most creative part of the whole knitting experience. It’s a chance to play with new yarns or yarn combinations and get to know how they look and feel with different stitches and at different guages. If I hit on a particularly nice yarn/stitch combo, it’s a pleasure to design the whole project around it.

  22. I love the “stitch of the day” segment but today’s has me stumped. Leafy Trellis pattern says in the first row: k 1 twisted – what does this mean? I wonder if it is what we call “ktbl” knit through back of loop or stitch? We have a communication hiccup here – I’m from Down Under and our knitting terms are a little different. I can usually work out what your knitting terms mean but need help with this one please. from Barbara

  23. I may be one of the few who will never ever start a project without swatching in both st st and in pattern (due to a tragic halter top accident–fit like a potato sack), but I don’t believe in swatching in the round. My purl and knit stitches really aren’t different enough to warrant this. I’ve never had something come out that was so off it couldn’t be convinced of its true size through blocking. If I were knitting something several yards long in the round, I’d do it, but otherwise the size difference is really to minuscule to matter–at least, in my opinion.

  24. I don’t mind the IDEA of gauge checking and swatching, but there are a couple of inherent problems with actually doing the work.

    First, how can I hurry up and start my project if I have to slow down to do a swatch? Second, I am a creature of habit and swatching isn’t one of my habits. Lastly, if I hurry up and finish my project and I missed gauge (by a lot) was it worth it?

    What a dilemma …

    Still, I don’t like swatching.

  25. This comment is more general than swatching (which info is terrific, though). I just want you to know how much I am enjoying receiving your emailings…A LOT!!!!!

  26. This comment is more general than swatching (which info is terrific, though). I just want you to know how much I am enjoying receiving your emailings…A LOT!!!!!

  27. I agree. Swatching can be a very good gauge (no pun intended) of what a yarn will do when you knit it up in a particular pattern. But I am always afraid that if I swatch large enough to have meaning, when I have bought the exact number of balls the pattern calls for, that I will then not have enough yarn for the pattern it self. Do you recommend buying a ball just for the swatch?

  28. Great advice Sandi. One thing I have noticed, however, is that the effect of bulk and gravity can’t really be replicated in a swatch. I recently knit an alpaca sweater and after I finished it, read somewhere that Alpaca tends to stretch and drop as you wear it – very true, to the extent that I am going to need to cut out a bit of the sleeve and graft the cuff back on. Can you maybe do a few Knitting Dailys on characteristics of different yarns when they become a fabric?

  29. I like doing sweaters in the round, top down. Swatching in the round is therefore a particular problem. (I don’t do the sleeves separately, so that won’t work as a possible swatch opportunity.) I noted the idea in one post of breaking the yarn, sliding the stitches and knitting every row, but then you really are relegating the yarn to permanent swatch duty. Are there any other ideas out there?

  30. I do swatch, mostly because I’m still quite new at this and I don’t trust myself yet! But I have a couple of questions. I find that I don’t have trouble meeting stitch gauge, but I really struggle with getting row gauge right. And it’s not consistent either – sometimes too many rows, sometimes not enough. Could you please tell us something about how to fix that?
    Also, could you give us an idea of how much “extra” you build into your yarn requirements for a pattern? I am almost finished the Looking Glass Top from IK Summer 2006 and I’m finding that I have an enormous amount of yarn left over (4 balls!) I did substitute a different yarn, but I spent a long time working out the yardage of my substitute, and I just can’t believe that I got it that wrong. I probably would have knitted the next size up if I had known I had plenty to do it. Still, if it becomes my incentive to lose a little bit of weight, that’s not a bad thing either! 😉

  31. The swatch should not be considered a boring part necessary to good knitting. While I admit to not swatching often, I do swatch with unfamiliar yarns on new needles. But I also like the concept promulgated by Ann Bourgeois of Philosopher’s Wool–make your sleeve your swatch piece. After all, you will knit part of your garment, and if your gauge doesn’t match you don’t have much to rip back.

  32. My knitting teacher always had this to say re gauge: The Wages of Sin is NOT counting your gauge. I always use the “jr. gauge tool’ which measures it. Each gauge is measured out. Put your knitting down and check the measurements. Best thing ever invented for a knitter. Patternworks carries it…

  33. I am soon to start work on an Indigo Ripples Skirt, from IK Spring 2007. I have the denim yarn and am just waiting for my new Knitpicks set to arrive. My question is this: I’ve never worked with denim yarn before, and I understand it is designed to shrink up quite substantially when washed, so how big a swatch should I knit to allow for this, and will just a soak and squeeze in the sink do, or should I put it through the washing machine? Also, do I then pin it out, or just pat it flat to dry (or even put it through the dryer)? I don’t know if you have the ear of Kat Coyle who designed it, but any info you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Keep up the great work with Knitting Daily – you must have just about the best job in the world!

  34. I don’t knit very much but have been fascinated by this whole daily knitting information and the passion that you all have for knitting. I have persuaded my mother to knit a cardigan for me. I have bought the yarn but it is not the same as what is recommended in the pattern. She tested various size of needles to obtain the size to match the pattern but while the width matched, the length turned out to be much longer. how should we work out the adjustments?

  35. I haven’t seen the stitch of the day in awhile either. Another missing element–Sandi did I miss your finished vest and tomato top? I miss the personal reports of your knitting projects in progress.

  36. I said something this week that I would never have believed was coming. I spent this last week in the hospital with my husband. Of course, I took some knitting and some knitting books, including “Knitting Never Felt Better.” While showing Bill this neat pattern in the book, I heard myself say
    “I can’t wait to get home so I can swatch it!” Maybe I’m the one who really needed the tests?

  37. Sandi, if we weren’t both married, I think I’d run away with you just for this article! You’ve explained, more eloquently than I ever could, exactly what I try to teach knitters!

  38. Oh, and Jennie P: check out Lily Chin’s book “Couture Crochet Workshop.” She gives and excellent description of how to weight your swatch to account for gravity.

  39. Guilty of being swatch hater, here, too. I cheat a lot because I knit socks and a) they’ll always fit someone and b) one skein of Lang Trekking pretty much knits up to same gauge as the next.

    What I want is more creative ideas for what to do with swatches! A friend sent me a pattern once for what to do with all those leftovers (just a couple of yards of this or that yarn) to make a big brightly colored fabulous looking shawl. I wish there were some cool things to do with knit swatches in the round. Maybe wristwarmers? Whipstitch both ends for a miniature sachet? Any ideas?

  40. ooh, I am so impatient about swatching. But, as Bonnie suggested way up near the top of the comments, I start the sleeve and use it as a swatch. You don’t want to measure on the needles, but it’s pretty easy to slip it off and then back on again if I got it right. And if it’s wrong, I just frog it out and start again. But if it’s right, I’m well on my way and somehow the second sleeve doesn’t seem as boring this way. Also, for saving yarn/$$ – if it wasn’t a sleeve I often pull out the swatch to finish the neck ribbing or wherever I run out of yarn.

  41. Justine, I put in a comment on figuring out the gauge in a pattern in yesterdays comments. Basically, work a few multiples of the pattern, measure it, divide by the number of inches to get sts per inch, then multiply to get your 4″ measurement.

  42. Dear Sandi,
    I fell in love with an Irish knitting pattern displayed in a shop. I purchased the yarn manufactured by the same company as the pattern, Black Water Abbey. Normally I knit close to the recommended gauge.I started out with the recommended size 7 needles, which was supposed to give me 19 sts /28 r = 4″in moss stitch, but I have worked my way down to size 3 needles, and my gauge is still slightly too big. The variation seems ridiculously off. What should I do?
    Yarning to knit in CT

  43. for swatching on circulars, instead of breaking the yarn and sliding the row over, just draw the working yarn loosely across the back. that way, you still have useful yarn if you need to re-use the swatch.

  44. I’ve been swatching most projects since I started knitting. The main reason is that I substitute yarn on everything I knit and I want to make sure that the yarn I’m using will knit up to the same gauge as the yarn used in the original pattern.

  45. How do you swatch in the round? The one time I tried it, and thought I was doing it right, it was a disaster. Would really appreciate hearing how others do it. Thanks. Kay

  46. I’m working on a sweater and the gauge doesn’t say how big the swatch is suppose to be – just 18 stitches x 24 rows… so is the standard size 4″? or 6″ cause I’ve seen both.

    I dislike making swatches when I’m using expensive yarns but do make them. I don’t wash them or anything, just knit them up pull the needle and check my gauge. Then I pull it out. Maybe someday I’ll actually make a swatch and keep it.

    txkat

  47. I like to doodle, whether with pen and paper or with needles and yarn, so I’ve never really been bothered by the idea of knitting a swatch. I usually will by one ball of an unfamiliar yarn, especially an expensive one, just to try it out first. If the yarn drives me up the wall and I decide not to use it, I’m only out the price of one ball, not twelve. If the pattern stitch for a project bugs me, I can try out different ones and come up with an alternative that I like.

    I don’t usually worry much about row gauge because I translate the row instructions into measurements instead of rows. This approach has worked even in side-to-side patterns in which row gauge determines the width. Differences in row gauge can be the reason for needing more or less yarn than the pattern called for, however. If you need more rows to make up an inch you will use more yarn, and if fewer you will use less.

    Minnie’s right that swatches lie. I just recently finished altering something that turned out a little off after my gauge changed eight or ten inches into the pattern. It’s a good idea to measure your work in progress to check that it is going according to plan.

    Sometimes I keep swatches as samples, sometimes I use them as something (a pocket, a coaster, a scarf, etc.), and sometimes I reuse the yarn, either because I’ve run short or because I need to make repairs or alterations. Oh, at some point I usually do measure them for gauge, but that’s only one of many things I learn from them. Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t mind knitting them. As Sandi said, it’s just another piece of knitting.

  48. I’ve been doing swatches for some time now and I “always” make the same size swatch, WHY you ask! They make the best blankets. Figure these swatches as quilt squares, the colors and textures are fun to play with. And the extra left over yarn is labeled and stored for color work. Sometimes instead of buying the extra ball in the same color as the article I’m swatching for, I buy a color that I can place with a patchwork blanket. I keep a small note book to record “all” results, how it washed ,blocked and so forth.

  49. Yep, I swatch only for the big stuff. Clothes for my one year old are pretty much swatch size already! And if they come out too big, well, she can always grow into them…

    Talking of my one year old, I have some purple-ish cotton that is begging to be crocheted into a little dress for her. Only problem is that I can’t find a pattern that I like. Before I spend the next week designing and [yes…] swatching something, is there anything out there in the Interweave archives that could make it to this website? Pretty please?

  50. I am wondering about whether designers/publishers take into account the amount of yarn you will need for a gauge swatch and if so how much they account for.

  51. Thank you for the information on the swatches. I have been plagued by how exactly to knit and measure a circularly knit swatch. My needles are not small enough to knit a regular 4″ X 4″ swatch and it would be a giant swatch to make one that fits even a 16″ length circular. That’s also assuming that I have purchased a 16″ length circular along with the circular that I have purchased for the pattern. So, any assistance you can provide would be appreciated.

  52. Thank you so much for covering this topic so thoroughly. You’ve got me even more obssessed with knitting, if that’s possible.

    So here’s my question to throw into the mix. If I want to substitue a pattern that mostly uses stockinette stitch with a different stitch, I need to knit a swatch with the new stitch and make sure that the gauge matches the St. st in the pattern, correct?

    Thanks again!
    Grace

  53. Can you give us a tutorial on swatching when knitting in the round on circulars or dpns? It seems like there are a lot of questions and ideas about this. Is the length of the cable you are using in your swatch going to change the overall effect?

  54. My 11 year old daughter is the swatch queen, so I showed her this series. She says that she loves (yes, she really does) to swatch because:
    1. experimenting is fun – she likes to play with yarns, colors and stitch patterns without any particular project in mind.
    2. she’s a very busy student, but she can make a fun swatch when she has a free hour or so.

  55. I do measure gauge while the knitting is still on the needles but I use circular needles and slide the knitting onto the cable, thus eliminating the effect of the needles distorting the swatch. I find this useful when knitting socks because if my gauge is correct, I keep going without needing to find waste yarn (is there really such a thing?) or having to remount stitches on my needles. If my gauge is off, I remove the needles and start over.

  56. Good Morning. Like Sandi, if there are Swatch Police I would have been in lock-up a long time ago! I mostle make childrens sweaters etc and hey, if it doesn’t fit now…it will fit later! And even for myself i guess I have been very, very lucky!
    Thanks for all the interesting ideas you are coming up with…even if it is swatching :) Susan

  57. I really enjoy receiving your emails. The swatching one at first put me on a severe guilt trip. I never swatch on afghans, dishcloths, place mats, etc. anyway and just hated to do it for sweaters and other wearables. Your article changed by attitude about swatching, making a bigger sample, and enjoying the yarn before the project; BUT I won’t stop my practice of lighting a little fire under my swatch and throwing it in my burn barrel WHEN the project is all done!

  58. Hi someone had asked how to swatch in the round without cutting the yarn.
    Here is what I do: I knit to the left, lead the yarn very loosely behind the work back to the right, and slide the piece to the right end of the needle (has to be either circ or dpn) and knit again, this way the thread is uncut and can be raveled up when need be.
    I assume that it is clear that the swatch has to be a little wider than 4 inches and the loosely lead yarn on the back has to be long enough to not pull in the knit piece.
    It looks like an extra wide icord with a really wide ladder so to speak.

  59. I always swatch, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I began to understand that you were supposed to “SAVE” your swatch. I always unwind it and cast on for my project. In fact I still do that! Why waste the yarn?

  60. Yes, ’tis I, Gretchen K. I thought I could lurk, but you caught me, a practicallly non-knitter with more UFO’s (not necessarily knitting) than any of you–includes spinning and weaving projects. I always sample the latter, but have never sampled knitting: I just trust the pattern and have yet to go wrong.

  61. I see so many questions and so few answers. Why aren’t people answering these important questions. If I knew an answer I certainly would or Sandi – do you have someone to respond to the questions. mp-k

  62. How can you block your swatch and then re-use the yarn? Doesn’t blocking change the composition a little, so that you’d have a “double-blocked” area on your garment that didn’t match the rest?

  63. Sandi – you asked me to vote among the 3 patterns and the rustic jacket won. But I did not vote because I didn’t care for any of the 3. All were too way out or fancy for us to wear. Next time please put one pattern in the running that is blander – lace, cables fine. Your summer shawlette is gorgeous. Thanks Elaine B. Massachusetts

  64. I’ve never heard of frogging; does that mean pull out your work? I like the idea of saving uniform swatches to make an afghan. Guess I’ll get into swatching now! I’ve always resisted it even though I’ve had some disasters. But this year I’m going to try some “fearless” knitting so I think I’d better swatch first.

  65. One thing swatching instructions usually tell you is to use needles one size larger or smaller to get the right gauge. I knit pretty tight and usually have to use needles at least 2 sizes larger than specified. I usually measure while it’s still on the needles then rip it out because I’m always afraid I’ll run out of yarn (although I never have). I like DebbyS’s idea of putting the last row onto a piece of waste yarn. That way I can wash and block it and still rip it out if I need the yarn.

  66. I knit a lot of socks. I have a sock I started and didn’t care for the stitch pattern. Instead of ripping it out, I kept it to do swatches in the round. It is scarf length now. But so convenient to do swatches in the round. Just add the new yarn and needles and knit away.

  67. Hi – This is good information. However, I was wondering if Knitting Daily could do an even more basic swatch lesson. Here is my dilemma. I am a fairly new knitter. Many patterns just say “make your swatch.” or 10 stitches per inch, or something like that. I’ve found that experienced knitters seem to know something intrinsic about the swatch that they think every beginner knitter understands – but we don’t. So, my question is where do I begin?

    (1) The above says knit four inches of swatch. Is that four inches square? However, what if you’re not knitting a sweater, and instead knitting a narrow scarf, or a pair of fingerless mitts. Four inches seems like an awful lot of swatch for a small piece. Right now I am working on a pair of fingerless mitts, and four inches in the round is half of one mitten!

    (2) If the directions say 20 stitches per inch, do you cast on 20 stitches on the chosen yarn using the chosen needles? Do you cast on 25? 30? 50?

    (3) How much do you actually knit? 1 inch? 2? Again it seems that the size a gauge swatch for man’s sweater should be different from a gauge swatch for a child’s pair of mittens.

    (4) What do you do if your gauge doesn’t match the directions. (Oh no, please do not say change the pattern or number of stitches on the swatch. For a beginning knitter figuring out where the pattern begins and ends is like asking a kindergartner to do algebra when he’s just figured out how to count!) Do you increase/decrease the size of your needles? Change the size of your yarn?

    Thanks for your help!
    Mary M.

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