What if you are working an all-over ribbed garment? Here's a ribbed swatch (which I'll use for the ribbed portions of my garment, but I admit, when ribbing isn't the main fabric, I usually just do a small ribbing swatch):
The ribbing swatch, 60 rows long just like a regular swatch, is actually marked at stitch #21 by moving a stitch from one bed to the other for two rows. This would facilitate measurement. if you had to measure ribbing for the knit leader.
The tricky thing with ribbing all over a sweater is deciding how much ease to use. Ribbing can be blocked wide, or left tightly packed.
Problem Solving Swatches:
You don't have to make lots of swatches for a project, but I like to fiddle with swatches until my mental questions about a project are answered. This way, I go into the project confident about my decisions and techniques.
I had to put my finger in this swatch so the vertical buttonhole in the ribbed band would show at all in the picture. I think my real bands will be a little wider. Buttonhole swatches are nice to take along when you shop for buttons.
Here's a swatch I did to make sure my ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, which I'm blocking so there is little pull-in, will look okay:
Here's my first idea of the fair isle color scheme. I knitted a swatch to check the color combination and the floats on the back. The sweater will use this border near the top of the front and back. The swatch led me to change my mind about my color choices - I thought there's be more contrast between the brown and green. In fact, the photo shows more contrast than the real swatches do:
Instead, I'm using the beige for the Greek key and the star patterns. (It looks white in the picture, but it's really a light beige.)