A Note on Swatching

We’ve all heard it. “Swatches are essential.” Well, are they?

Long answer short: yes.

But we’re stuck, because swatches are lying little b****es. They’ve stabbed us in the back so many times that we’ve forgotten how to trust. That too long sweater? For once I actually followed the pattern, but that sneaky b*****d lied and told me that I was doing things right on schedule. 

I know why they do it (sometimes), they stretch more with more weight or they shrink (that one I don’t get). 

Which is why I always swatch, they just usually come out looking very “project-shaped”. I am one of those knitters that don’t mind reknitting a few times (more than three, and I’ll be asking “what project?”). The reason I do this is because when the swatch is a part of the project, it lies less.  Yes, sometimes the yarn changes when washed or colors bleed, but I have a simple work-around: small swatches for color-work to test bleeding or separate washes for first time items (or until I’m satisfied that all of the dye is safely in place).  As for changes in washed items, I haven’t really had a problem. Sometimes I make a hat or something where gauge doesn’t really matter if I’m worried, but it’s still almost always a usable project.  I’m going to be honest: I don’t dislike swatches because they lie or because they’re sneaky, it’s really because that yarn is pretty much gone.  Sure, you could rip it out and combine it with other similar yarn or swatches, but I don’t.  I even keep the yarn used to tie together skeins.  I don’t cut it (if I can), I put it into a baggie to use as stitch markers and scrap yarn.  None of my yarn is “wasted”.

So what prompted my rant on swatches?  I actually swatched.  Multiple times.  Why?


I’m designing a sweater.

Oh, and once I was done with the swatches, I turned a few into dog sweaters, so still no waste.  🙂


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