Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Hate Swatching!

Well, really I don’t hate swatching; but that is a sentiment that I hear constantly at the shop. Most people are so excited to get started on their new project, they view swatching as a waste of time. They want to get to the real knitting.

In response to my suggestions to knit a gauge swatch, I often hear things like, “But it will probably just work out, right?”; or “I always knit right on gauge”.

Most things don’t usually “just work out”; and always is a dangerous word in knitting. Many knitter’s need an attitude adjustment here. First of all, knitting is a process. And swatching is a part of that process. An important part!

Here are just a few reasons why you should learn to value swatching:

Swatching lets you determine your stitch gauge. The number of stitches and rows in one inch of knitted fabric. Being off by ½ stitch per inch can affect your finished product greatly. Yes, there are times when it won’t, but it’s better to be aware of the difference and make the choice to proceed confidently.

Swatching gives you a place to practice the stitch pattern called for in your pattern. Does the texture of the pattern work well with the yarn you’ve chosen? Do you enjoy the stitch pattern?

Swatching gives you a piece of fabric that you can use to test wash and block. If you’re unsure about how the yarn will wash up, test it first on a small scale!

Swatching lets you experience the yarn and decide whether it’s the right yarn for your project. Do you like the feel of it after it’s knitted? Does it have the right drape? Does it split?

So, take the time to knit your swatch. It’s definitely worth your time and effort. I realize that you may not ever learn to love to swatch; but maybe you will be able to embrace it as part of the wonderful process of knitting!


mydogischelsea said...

My problem with swatching is that it seems that I can measure the gauge 10 different times and it's never the same. Are you supposed to stretch it first? Or just measure when the fabric is sitting idly? I've never really understood the process.

Cheri said...

Typically, you want to measure your fabric "relaxed", not stretched. But you also have to consider how the item you are swatching for will be worn.

Sometimes a pattern will actually give the gauge and specify "when slightly stretched". So make sure you read all the information under tension/gauge.

Knit a swatch and bring it into the shop. We'll be happy to help you to measure and hopefully make it a little clearer to you!