I think I won't surprise anybody if I confess: there was a time when I didn't like knitting swatches much. This feeling often got so intense that I just skipped that part. If I had a new exciting pattern, I just wanted to jump in. If I really had no idea what needle size to use, I just knitted a few rows and tried to measure the stitch gauge - and the word "tried" absolutely has to be there in this sentence. Sometimes I got lucky - and sometimes not. I have some really nice sweaters from that period, however, a number of them are lying at the bottom of my drawer - or in somebody else's drawer, because the fit wasn't ok.


These experiences made me think about the whole gauge swatch issue. Is it really such a big deal to knit one? And if you think about it: not at all. A swatch is not a particularly large piece. It can be knitted in no time actually. I usually knit swatches when I need some "brain washing" - of course this applies to ones knitted in stockinette only.

Why is a gauge swatch important? Why can't you just use the needle size given in the pattern? The answer is simple: we are not the same. We are not machines. There are loose knitters who usually have to use smaller needles and tight knitters who usually use larger needles than the ones given in the patterns. And this is completely natural and ok: you are doing nothing wrong if you have to use a different needle size.

What factors can affect the gauge? The most important factor is you your own knitting style (and sometimes even the mood you are in).The yarn is also an important factor: you can have different gauges with different yarns using the same needle size. The matieral of your needles can also affect the gauge.


How do you knit a gauge swatch correctly? The swatch has to be at least 10 cm high and 10 cm wide. Knitting just a few centimeters and multiplying the number of stitches is not a good idea. I always wash my swatches (even if the fabric shouldn't grow or shrink theoretically) and measure them when they are completely dry.

And what can you do with your growing number of swatches? This is not my idea but I think it is a really good one: when I have a LOT of them, I'll sew them together and I'll have a blanket that can tell about all the knitting I've done in the past few years.

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