Saturday, February 13, 2010

Smart Swatches

Swatches are not very glamorous, but they're an amazing tool to ensure knitting success.

At one point, I dragged out every swatching tip I ever encountered and made a Knit Natters demo out of it. I incorporated that demo into the beginner course in this lesson:

When you routinely knit a swatch this way, you get all these benefits:
  • It's the right size for the Knitleader (and good for DAK, too)
  • There are a bunch of places where you can measure width, just in case you stretched a little too much in one area when blocking
  • It's big enough so you don't have to measure to the edge for anything
  • It's big enough to really feel the texture
  • The eyelet holes give you a permanent marking of your tension settings
  • Both cast-on and cast-off are finished, and you can launder it like the real garment without fear of it unravelling (and you need to launder it like the garment)
  • Doing a pattern stitch? Of course, knit the swatch in pattern! This helps you assess what it's like to knit and gives you measurements of the real deal.
  • The swatch is big enough that you can weigh it and measure it and those square inches can help with planning the yarn requirements.
In the past, I've gotten a nice cone of yarn and made the swatch, then rolled it and tucked it inside the cone for the day I could actually begin to knit that yarn. That swatch gives me a better idea what the yarn will be like than looking at and feeling the cone.

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