Knitter's Log Day 1 Continued: Making a Gauge Swatch

Donn'a's Log Day 1 Continues! - "Swatching"

After firming up my design and having my measurements taken it was time to move on to making a gauge swatch.  

A secret about gauge swatching

Before I begin this post, I have a secret I must share. I HATE making gauge swatches! It's not that I mind knitting or the extra step to insure that everything is going to knit up as expected, it's that I HATE using up yarn that I love! I feel like I'm wasting it. 

However, it's not a waste to make sure the overall sweater is correct - nothing is worse than knitting an entire sweater only to find out it doesn't fit properly or drape the way you had envisioned. So, like it or not - make your gauge swatch!

What to do with completed gauge swatches

I've also decided to embark on a little side project with these gauge swatches. I'm going to save them and when I've gathered up enough of them, stitch the swatches together to make an  afghan. It will be full of all of these yarns that I love and interesting stitch patterns!

How to make a gauge swatch

If you have your Sweater Guide handy and have knitted along with me you have already seen that the stitches required are going to create a large swatch. Ok, I know that swatches are a necessary evil, but do the swatches really need to be that big?  

Because I'm doing two different stitch pattern, I'll need to do two separate swatches - one in seed and one in fisherman's rib, so that's double the trouble.  

Gauge swatching helps create Ah-ha moments

What followed next was my 1st of I'm sure many) ah-ha moments. My swatches were both close to 7 inches high and 8 inches wide, perfect!  About half way though the seed swatch I was able to see how the variegation was going to look over a wide area. 

Why a gauge swatch is important

Making a gauge swatch is such a vital part of the sweater knitting process because it answers a barrage of questions in addition to the most important one - Does it match the recommended pattern gauge?

  • How about the cast on I used? Did I like it? Would it work for the real cast on? 
  • How is the drape?
  • How will the yarn look over an entire sweater?
  • If using a hand dye, do the colors pool?

The result of my seed stitch gauge swatch

I was pretty pleased with the look of the stitch stitch swatch. It worked up to be a nice, dense fabric. I chose seed stitch because it maximizes the colors of the hand dyed yarn more than stockinette stitch. 

My next concern though, is how would it stack up against the fisherman rib which worked up very chunky and defined  I'm a little concerned that the rib pattern will overwhelm the seed pattern. Now I'm wondering if the seed would be hefty enough not to be dragged down by the rib and are my gauges going to be different?  The best way to answer that question is to wash both swatches.

Washing and comparing my gauge swatches

Figuring out if the stitch patterns work together is a bit of a leap of faith. In this case, the answer  all comes out in the wash (literally), I completed the swatches and gave them a good soak.  After laying them out to dry I noticed that the seed maintained it's look while the rib became much more elongated and open.  Both bloomed nicely and softened. Yay! The rib no longer overwhelms the seed.  My swatches also grew length and width wise.  

Now, on to measuring the true gauge

Stay tuned (tomorrow) to see if they stack up!