Okay I have to admit it… I’m not a swatcher… I always thought swatching was for high end knitters who knitted sweaters, and really super high quality types of projects. Not a simple knitter like me, not a free spirit knitter like me. I was above the swatch, the swatch was not going to hold sway over my knitting projects.
But it did, I fell pray to the swatch. And found out the hard way that every knitter and crocheter needs to swatch. Not only because I over bought yarn, but under bought yarn (say it isn’t so!!). Now I’m not going to go into detail or show you the several (yes it happened that many times before I got the clue) examples of my follies. All I’m going to say is this: Swatching is not just something knitter with a clue say is a good idea. It really is a good idea.
But what the heck does gauge and swatching even mean? It’s actually the number of stitches per inch you create across your knitting. And the great thing is most patterns tell you what the gauge for the pattern should be. But it is always important to check to make sure you are knitting within the gauge, otherwise the item (ex.: mittens, hats, sweaters) may not fit correctly. Keep in mind every knitter knits different via: tension and knitting method, this leads to different gauge. Hence the need for swatches needing to be done before you start any project.
So the next question: How do you do a proper swatch? Now as many bloggers and experts on knitters is how many different answers you will find to this question. And if you’ve ever read my blog you know I love to research questions just like this one. So after hours of researching this very question here is the answer I have gotten. And the method I use to make all my swatches. Use it, abuse it and most of all enjoy it.
Yarn: Use the main yarn for your pattern
Needle: Use the main Needle size for your pattern
(Some patterns ask you to switch yarns or needles, so make sure you use the main needle and the main yarn)
CO 30 Stitches using the Long Tail Cast On Method
Using Garter Stitch Knit 5 rows
All – RS K all stitches
All – WS K-5, P-20, K-5
Do a total of 30 rows
Switch back to Garter for 5 rows and then bind off PurlWise.
Once your Swatch is all knitted up, you will want to block it. Make sure you don’t stretch it out or contort it in any way. Once it is completely dry the real fun begins.
Using a knitting gauge tool (you can get these at your local yarn store or a big box craft store). Line up the vertical side of the ruler with a line of stitches, and the horizontal line of the ruler with a line of stitches. (as shown in the picture)
You’re going to measure you stitches per inch, count the number of stitches in just one inch. Do this in several different places on your piece this will give you an average. Believe it or not the stitches will count differently throughout your work, weird I know but its true. Average it out and you have your gauge. Now you can start your project, do you need to change anything? I’ve had to change my needle size several times. And it’s saved me yarn, or I’ve had to run out and buy more. Who knew gauging was so important, and not just for the élite knitters of the world.
I would love to hear back if this helped anyone or if you use a different method.
Hugs all around, from my home to yours. Losa