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Swatching

by Linda

Many yarn crafters detest swatching. I'm not one of them. I always do a swatch before starting to work on a large project.

Always wash and dry your swatch before checking your gauge.

There are too many advantages to swatching to skip this crucial step:

  1. First and foremost, to find, check and if necessary, adjust your gauge. It's best to make a generous sized swatch and do your measuring near the middle. Edge stitches can distort your gauge count.
  2. To torture test the fabric by living with it, and by washing and drying it the way the finished project will be treated. Do you really want to wait until after completing the item to find out it's a pet hair magnet and shows ever speck of hair it picks up, it makes you itch, it shrinks lengthwise, that the red bleeds into the white, or that the yarn pills terribly?
  3. To see if you enjoy working the stitch pattern(s) you'll be using. If making the swatch has you pulling your hair out in frustration or anxious to start washing your floors for some excitement, imagine putting hours on end into it.
  4. To see whether the colours, stitches and materials appeal to you. If you dislike them in the swatch, you can change any of them now, before embarking on something larger. Be sure to wash your swatch before passing judgement. Stitches and yarn can look, feel and behave quite differently after laundering.
  5. If creating your own pattern, or combining yarns, it's a great chance to try out different colours, stitch patterns, methods of decreasing or increasing, etc. Go nuts with it!
  6. To see if you have enough yarn. Be sure to wash your swatch first and estimate conservatively, by about ten percent. If you find you should have 120 metres per ball, figure on 110. If you find a ball covers 100 square inches, figure on 90 or so. It's always better to have a bit of yarn leftover than to run short.
  7. To practice the techniques you'll use in the project. Work at it long enough so any natural relaxation or tightening up of your work will occur before you embark on the big project. This will help you avoid the My gauge was fine when I started, I don't know what happened! syndrome. In this case, check your gauge near the most recently completed end of the swatch, still avoiding the edges.
  8. Field testing. Take your swatch with you when visitng the intended recipient of the item you have in mind to see if it coodinates with their decor, clothing, taste etc. Do this when no one is looking, otherwise your motives may be discovered or your sanity questioned. ;)
And what to do with all these swatches?

Quick Tip For Measuring Lengths of Yarn

There are a few places around your home that will make measuring easier.

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