There are many reasons why we don’t swatch. While I recommend it in all situations, I recognize there are times when we’re nervous to do so for a range of reasons. Perhaps a fiber is difficult to work with making ripping back a challenge. Maybe the yardage is tight for the project and you’d like to limit ends to weave in. Or the skein could be overwhelming for any number of personal reasons. Can you swatch without swatching? Yes. Here are three tips to help you out.
Tip 1 – swatch a similar yarn
When I designed the Crochet Cashmere Triangle Scarf over the summer, I was nervous to swatch in the cashmere because this fiber is tricky to rip back. Artyarns was generous and provided an extra skein to use. I used it to make my gauge swatch and a very different yarn as I worked out the shaping. If I needed experience for other aspects of this yarn, I would have looked into other substitutions for my swatches. For example, while it isn’t the same, a merino laceweight would have provided insight to working with a single ply.
Tip 2 – find a similar project in your yarn
If you’re substituting your special skein for the specific in a pattern, it’s helpful to look for comparable projects. I like to use the advanced pattern search in Ravelry for this.
Tip 3 – how might that multi-colour yarn work up?
If you’re working with a variegated colour there are may different ways it could work up. If you want to see examples without making every permutation, again look to the amazing advanced search in Ravelry, this time for projects! I love that I can search projects and see examples on how a yarn looked knit and crocheted by a range of people and skill levels. There are things you can do to work with pooling, and as awesome and geeky as they are, I try to keep things simple.
I hope these three tips help provide you the confidence to swatch without swatching.