Wednesday, July 05, 2017

10 Reasons to Swatch Other Than Checking the Gauge

Last post I wrote a bit about how to make swatches that measure gauge more accurately, but today's post is:

10 Reasons to Swatch Other Than Checking the Gauge

1. Do I like how the yarn will look with the stitch pattern? Swatching is a great way to find out.

2. Do I like the yarn? I mean, I liked it when I bought it, but do I enjoy knitting with it? Will it work the way I thought it would for this project?

3. Practice. When you're swatching, you can not only practice the stitch pattern, but you can practice different techniques, like Intarsia, or steeking, or you can make two swatches and work on your sewing techniques to sew them together.
Cutting the steek on a swatch is a good way to try it out.

4. Decision making. Sometimes, a pattern leaves certain decisions up to the knitter, for instance, how increases and decreases are handled within or at the edges of a cable pattern.You can work that into your swatch to see what looks best to you.

5. The label says it's machine-washable, but is it really? I was weighing the pros and cons of using some of my leftover yarn to make a pair of socks for someone, then thought I'd better test the supposed washability. Luckily, I still had a swatch from the other project I had made with it, so into the wash it went, and came back rather felted. No harm done, and decision made.

6. Can I iron this? Test it on the swatch.

7. How quickly does it pill? If I shave off the pills, do they return just as bad the next time, or is it pretty OK now? Treat your swatch however you'd like to treat the finished object to learn how the yarn will wear.

8. Decide you want to change something about the pattern? Test it on the swatch to see if it will work out the way you'd like. If you're wondering how the edging treatment will work, why not pick up stitches on your swatch and work a bit of edging?

9. Someday when you need yarn to repair a hole, or a thin patch at the elbow, a spot that snagged, or a hem that needs reinforcing, you can frog that swatch and use the yarn to fix it.

10. Too many projects on the needles to start a new thing, but you're tired of all of them or they're not quite right for a travel project? Start a swatch for the next thing. It's not like you're actually starting a new project. Not yet anyhow. You're just swatching, and it was just the thing to bring along.


  1. Good list, Jessie. How've you been? It's been a while since we were in touch. It's been very busy--not knitting much, too many "life distractions".

    1. Hi Sigrun! I've had it in the back of my mind to send you an email since the beginning of spring. Unfortunately, the back of my mind has been a very cluttered place of late! Doing quite well, and hope you are too. Will have to sit down and actually write that email instead of just thinking about it!