|Photo stolen from www.tricksyknitter.com - awesome blog!|
Swatching is particularly important when making something that needs to fit - a sweater or skirt, for example. However, you can usually get away without swatching a scarf or hat. Adjustments can be made while knitting to correct any minor size issues and, frankly, these are not items that generally need to "fit".
Because I don't, generally, knit clothing that needs to fit, I always found swatching to be an unnecessary chore. Honestly, I've probably only swatched a few things - most recently the pattern that Cassandra and I designed for What (Else) Would Madame De Farge Knit?. Swatching was necessary there because we had three people test knitting and we needed to ensure some consistency in the size.
So... there was one reason to swatch: to ensure gauge while designing your own pattern.
Then, almost by accident, I stumbled on reason number two for swatching - figuring out if you like a particular yarn for a pattern.
|Not my actual swatches. Kudos to whomever did them.|
Now, truth be told, I was testing various yarns and needles sizes in order to create a particular "look" for another thing we're designing. However, it occurred to me that I could do this with EVERY pattern. How many times have I picked a yarn because I loved it and a pattern because I loved it, but then disliked the finished product because it didn't drape right or the fabric was too stiff? How easy would it have been to spend some time knitting up a bit of the pattern in a few different yarns to see which one I liked best? Just so you know... I'm totally doing this from now on.
I'm sure that some of you seasoned knitters out there are chuckling at my sudden swatching enlightenment. You know I still consider myself, at best, an intermediate knitter. I'm constantly stumbling on this kind of stuff - ideas that make knitting easier or better in some way. And I'm always surprised when someone says, "Oh yeah... I've been doing that for years!"
So, hopefully, there are a few of you out there who, like me, didn't give swatching its due and will now, at least, see some value in the process.