November 16th, 2009
It doesn’t take long for a new knitter or crocheter to learn about the importance of making a gauge swatch: one badly off-size project usually convinces even the most gung-ho non-swatcher. Learning to make and measure a gauge swatch properly is one of the most important steps on the road to a great finished project. I’ve noticed that most of the knitters and crocheters I know (including myself, I’m sorry to say) tend to skimp on the swatching, doing only enough to make sure they’re getting approximate gauge and then plunging headlong into the project at hand.
By doing this, we’re only short-changing ourselves. Not only can getting the proper gauge solve a number of problems, a gauge swatch can tell you much more than just whether you’re getting the requisite number of stitches and rows per inch. Your gauge swatch is the most important place to start learning what your final project will look and feel like. This is particularly important if you’ve chosen to use a different yarn or even color than the one called for in the pattern.
You might find, for instance, that even though you are getting the correct number of stitches and rows per inch, the fabric you are creating is too stiff or too drapey for the project you’re making. Or you might find that the stitch pattern you love just doesn’t show up when worked in the navy yarn you’ve chosen to work with. Better to find out now than after you’ve crocheted half an afghan! Next time you find yourself tempted to skimp or skip the swatch, remind yourself that even though it might seem like a drag now, you’ll be much happier in the end if you do a full, proper swatch.