swatching, tips for choosing tools

There are two parts to every swatch, ok, three. The yarn, the tool used to manipulate the yarn, and the individual doing the work.

How do I choose the tool? Which knitting needles or hooks do I want to use for my swatches? The answer is (as always), it depends.

When swatching for fun I often use different needles and hooks than I use when working a swatch for gauge or for the actual item.

Sometimes I want extreme portability. A small circular and ball of yarn can fit into my Tom Bihn Side Kick.

For other swatches, I want to see what effect a needle type will have on the yarn and resulting fabric. Sometimes it’s easier to work on a longer needle than I generally find comfortable.

I have favourite needles and hooks. Some of my swatches are worked for the same reasons you may curl up in a cozy sweater with a mug of hot cocoa and a favourite book. I’ll grab what feels most comfortable in my hand and get to work.

Then there’s the needles and hooks I try because they have buzz. These are sometimes the most fun because I’ll be pairing two unknowns (yarn and needle) and don’t quite know what the result will be.

array of sswatches and projects, knitting needles and crochet hooks on wooden surface.

Pictured are some projects and swatches with a variety of yarns, needles, and hooks.

This photograph provided an unexpected benefit in that it helped me discover that some needles are missing. I’ve been rearranging my studio over the past few months and it’s very easy to misplace things.

Tips for choosing tools for swatching

  • Are you working the swatch to simply get to know the yarn?

    In that case choose a favourite needle/hook.

  • Is this swatch to explore a particular stitch with the long-term intent of a project?

    Then choose the needle/hook you think you will use for the project. I often purposely go a size up or down than I think I’ll need because I’ve been surprised before by pushing at my expectations.

  • If you are knitting or crocheting a swatch for gauge?

    If so, make it larger than you think necessary and use the exact needle, hook, and if it’s an interchangeable set cable you plan for the project.

I’ve written about my tools and choices in the past. Here are a few of those posts:
knitting needles on white surface

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