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Gauge Swatches & Other Tips

Remember to Breathe & Take Time to Slow Down

Good Morning, How are things?

Happy Thanksgiving

Can you believe its Thanksgiving? I hope you will have a wonderful holiday. Only a month and it will be Christmas!!!! So much to look forward to at this time of the year. Unfortunately, though sometimes we just get so busy with our daily lives that we don’t take the time to enjoy it. My wish for you this week is, that you can slow down just enough to savor the moment. Take time to breathe. Even if you can only spend 30 minutes or so, reach for something that gives you a sense of calm and be in that moment.


Sebastopol Yarn ShopSonoma County Yarn ShopKnitting is Relaxing

Thinking of rushing, do you get so excited to start a new project that you just can’t wait to get stuck in and have time to knit?

Picking up those needles or hooks grabbing for the yarn and pattern and you are off.

Well that brings me to a topic suggested this week. Gauge swatches and why they are so important. The ‘Gauge Swatch’ isn’t just to measure gauge.  This is probably one of the most important aspects of knitting that can save you hours of heartache and projects that just don’t turn out right to projects that turn out just like the photos and put a smile on your face.

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Why Do Gauge Swatches?

Why do we need to do a gauge swatch? I know I have been guilty of not doing one. I have learned many a lesson from this fact too. Half way through a pattern I may suddenly decide that I don’t like the way it is draping or perhaps the fabric is just becoming very stiff, or lifeless. All those things could have been avoided if only I had taken the time to swatch.

So it really isn’t a waste of time to do it, rather a waste of time not to. In the picture on the pattern it is sometimes difficult to see the exact detail. Sometimes there is a new stitch pattern that you haven’t tried before. Before you start with the whole thing, take a little time to try it on the swatch. It is after all still knitting. So apart from the fact that the pattern says make sure to check your gauge, it really is a benefit all around.

It’s also important to check the gauge of the pattern with the finished schematic measurements to make sure their math is correct also before you invest your time into knitting up a project. It only takes a few minutes do a math check to make sure that the pattern is correct, then knit up a gauge swatch to compare your knitting to the pattern gauge so that you know all will turn out correctly.

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Gauge Swatches Save Time & Frustration

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Wouldn’t you rather find out after knitting your swatch that the stitch you think is beautiful is one that will drive you crazy? Wouldn’t you rather find out that the swatch looks nothing like the fabric in the picture? Not to mention “how in the heck is this supposed to fit me” “this could fit a horse” So, take a little extra time to knit a swatch. Feel the way the yarn works up. Although you love the yarn, will it really work for this project.

It isn’t time wasted but a time to learn if it would be better used for something else.  It may be as simple as adjusting the needle size, but unless you take the time to learn about how it will work out, it could just end up as a project you never finish, or a garment never worn.

But isn’t a gauge swatch a waste of yarn?


Sonoma County Knitting ClassesThink about it? Sometimes we run out of yarn before we complete a project.   Doing a swatch will enable you to see how far a certain amount of yarn will go. You can measure and weigh it.

You may need another skein, isn’t it better to know then rather when you can no longer get any more? “but if I do a swatch wont I will need more yarn?” You can always undo the swatch and use it in the project if it is that close.

You can wash a swatch, or clean it the way it is suggested. How does it hold up? Will it still look good? Does it stay true to size? Block it, see how that makes an amazing difference in how the finished project will look.

If you are going to spend hours making something, isn’t it best to know after a few minutes if it is going to work out the way you want it to?



Creative Swatch Ideas

Some great ideas for what to do with your swatches, if you don’t end up using the yarn in the project. You could keep a catalogue of them. Label them so that you can see what you used, needle size, content etc. the project you ended up using it for. Perhaps what this would be good for in the future. You could see how the yarn holds up over time. Create a history of yarn and projects. Depending on the size of your swatch you could piece your swatches together for a one of a kind piece of art, a dolls blanket, all sorts of things. You learn so much from making your swatch and measuring gauge. After all it is all knitting………………..

I hope this helps you to start knitting your swatches, I think you will definitely be happy that you did.

Some of the above photos in the newsletter this week show some Louisa Harding patterns.   The patterns are free with yarn purchase and we have a lot of new yarn which has just arrived that would be beautiful for these projects.


Happy Thanksgiving-Trudy