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amy 03-22-2010 12:07 PM

Fewer gauge swatches: which strategies work for you?
Now, we know that the gauge swatch is our friend. But still, they can be tedious at times, and who can resist taking shortcuts, when they work! So tell us...

What works for you?

blueygh2 03-22-2010 12:41 PM

My trick: I knit things that don't require exact gauge :D

Otherwise, I'm more of the +- type, so when I see that it gets too big or too small, I fiddle a bit with it to get it about right size, blocking should do the rest.

RuthieinMaryland 03-22-2010 01:22 PM


I, too, don't like to swatch but have found that it's so necessary to get a good result. That doesn't, however, mean that I have to take it to extremes!

I generally cast on with the needle size recommended for the yarn I'm using. Since I knit a bit loosely I tend to use the smaller size recommended if more than one is listed. (such as Needle Size 7-9 )

After I knit about an inch I check the gauge to tell me if I'm in the ballpark and then I make an adjustment from there. If I'm not on target I change the needle size. If I am, then I knit approximately another inch or so and end off there. For the most part I've found that works well enough.

If it's an intricate involved project where fit is crucial, I'll do the whole deal. Otherwise the abbreviated method above works for me.

ALSO, since I usually have some yarn left over at the end of a project I knit the swatch by unwrapping yarn from the outside of the skein. Then I can unravel it and rewind it just in case I need it. Since I mostly work from center pull balls, I am then starting the project with yarn that hasn't been knit once and unravelled.

Hope this helps and happy knitting! :knitting:

Ruthie :hug:

Jan in CA 03-22-2010 01:29 PM

I haven't knit much that requires a swatch... I don't do them for hats, mittens..stuff like that. Just sweaters.

Anyway, I have a friend who almost always knits a hat first as her gauge swatch. She can see how the pattern looks if there is one, assess color choices and measure gauge at the same time.

RuthieinMaryland 03-22-2010 01:30 PM

More swatching...
Hi! :waving:

This might be helpful if you tend to start with a sleeve and then adjust needle size from there.

Melissa Morgan-Oaks' book showing the technique for knitting two socks at a time on one long cable needle works wonderfully for sleeves, leg warmers, mittens, etc. Anything you need to knit two of.

If you're checking out your gauge on a sleeve, using that technique would give you two sleeves that have been equally knit with the gauge tinkering. Besides, it's a great way to have two sleeves come out exactly alike without having to count (or mis-count!) the rows!

Ruthie :)

Abby123 03-22-2010 02:08 PM

I don't mind swatching. I consider it an opportunity to audition the yarn & the pattern. Does the pattern stand out well in this yarn? Do I like the drape? Do the colors work well together? Does it shrink or stretch after washing? It serves a bigger purpose than stitches per inch.

On blankets, scarfs & wraps, if gauge is off by a few stitches, who cares? Anything that isn't fitted to the body doesn't need a swatch to measure st/inch. But may need a swatch to test the pattern & yarn.

I always do a gauge swatch for sweaters. But check again after a few inches. If it is too small, go up a needle size. Too large, drop on size. You don't have to frog it, just switch needles.

But even with swatching. I have no guarantee the sweater will fit me well. So I compare actual knitted dimensions to my body. I like about 2-3" of ease around the front & back together.

The place I have to frog most often is ribbing. Even with a swatch, it is hard to know if it will be comfortable. I've reknit cuffs & sock ribs several times.

blueygh2 03-22-2010 02:11 PM

I find ribs actually less of a problem, since they stretch easily.

Abby123 03-22-2010 02:29 PM

Blue, I like my cuffs snug but not too snug. So I have little room for error. Just a matter of how I like them to fit me. If you like looser cuffs, then it wouldn't be an issue.

The point of knitting is to get an end product that fits the way you like. And looks good on you. So I tweek patterns alot. Add short row bust shaping, etc.

suzeeq 03-22-2010 05:14 PM

I don't swatch to match a pattern gauge, I swatch to figure out my gauge with the yarn and needles I want to use, so I know how much to adjust the pattern by, or for making up my own. I have to know how many sts to cast on. It's also useful to see how a pattern stitch works out - or not.

So I cast on about 20 sts or so, figure out what measurement I want something to end up at and then cast on for the item. I measure after 6" to see that it's coming out right, and also as I go along to make sure it's going to be the right size.

AngelaR 03-22-2010 05:35 PM

I will either gather a piece that I've already knit that uses the same size needles and like yarn and use that, or take a few minutes to do a swatch. So far, and I know it's odd, I've always been on gauge with my patterns. I don't expect that to last forever, but it makes me a little more confident in my knitting.

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