A few weeks ago I attended an industry trade show, TNNA. I returned home (well, eventually) with many new yarn samples to try and a few skeins to work new designs with. It’s very exciting and I look forward to working more with all of the yarns.
The question I receive most often is “Do you swatch?”. The answer is “It depends.”
Honest, it depends upon what I’m knitting or crocheting.
I need to know if gauge is critical to the project.
If it doesn’t matter, for instance if I’m knitting a lace shawl, I rarely bother to swatch and just tend to grab needles based on the yarn weight and desired fabric. This grab-and-go mentality comes with experience.
If gauge matters, for instance in a sweater, than I try to knit something useful. If I’m knitting a sweater, then I try to knit a sleeve as the swatch. It’s still painful to rip back, but if I like the fabric then I’m already a sleeve ahead.
If it’s a brand-new-to-me yarn I tend to knit a cowl out of it to see how it behaves with certain needle/hook sizes and stitch patterns. However, the samples shown here are all tiny skeins, most only a handful of yards each. These are all following the same general pattern of garter stitch, stockinette, a small cable, and some lace. This gives me an idea how how the yarn will behave in different circumstances. In general, when I’m finish swatching, I photocopy the swatch and paste it into my knitting notebook (i used to stitch the actual swatch into the notebook. it was nice to have them, but it made the notebook very bulky). Then they get tossed (with ID tags) into a plastic storage bin.
You can see photos of a few of my swatches in this flickr set. I’m trying to do better at remembering to photograph them and list them as swatches!
Here are a few additional resources on swatching I pulled together:
- Gauge Swatching (knit)
- Gauge Swatching (crochet)
- Start with the Sleeves (knit)
- It’s Not Just for Gauge Anymore (knit & crochet)
- Swatch in the Round by knitting flat (knit)
- Use eyelets in your gauge swatch (knit)