Many knitters hate swatching since it delays the joy of starting your new project, especially if you’re a knitter who always gets gauge and are using the yarn specified in the pattern.
A swatch is practice for your main garment to ensure that your knitting will yield the sme results as those outlined in the pattern. It involves knitting a 4 inch by 4 inch square to check that you get the same number of stitches per inch. If you get less stitches, your knitting is looser and you need to use a smaller needle and if you get more stitches you need to use a larger needle.
You should look at the resulting fabric. Just because you get the same gauge doesn’t mean that it is the correct gauge for that yarn. For example, the swatch may be to gauge but produce an airy material. Then you need to use a smaller needle and do some math to adjust the pattern. Further, the sample should be washed to check whether the material changes in terms of size which can further delay the main event.
Over time, I have learned that swatching is necessary and I always make a swatch and wash it by hand. I use this piece of material to make my adjustments to a pattern. For my adaptation of the Thermal pattern, I knitted a swatch that made sense for the yarn and washed it (See above photo.)
The thinner than I remembered 100% alpaca soften and has a slight haze to it. When I measured it, it was on target for gauge, 7 stitches per inch. That said, when I started knitting the back of the sweater, I found that it more like 6 stitches to the inch due to the difference in the way I knit a larger piece. As a result, I have had to redo the math and my cast on several times.
I got frustrated at first but then I calmed down and remembered that this happens to me almost every time I start a sweater.
What is your experience swatching?
Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief