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Old 06-22-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
Woofens
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hopefully last swatch/ gauge question
Can someone please tell me a few things about gauge swatches? I've got how to big to make them figured out, thanks to the great knitters here, but how do you decide what stitches to use... just follow the pattern? Do you need to do one for each project? Probably beginner questions, but I want to learn the correct way so I'm not trying to break bad habits later on
Thanks!!
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:12 PM   #2
Dclutterchique
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If the pattern doesn't say then the convention is to use stockinette/stocking stitch for the swatch. This is another reason to knit it bigger than 4" as stocking stitch curls up along the edges. If the pattern says to knit the swatch in a given pattern, then make your swatch in that pattern.

Yes, you do a new swatch for each project, as yarn size & type, needle size, the pattern writer's personal tension and your personal tension are all variable factors in the final tension.

Oh, another hint for when you start knitting projects that use 2 different size needles (eg a sweater pattern which asks you to knit the cuffs and bottom edge on size 6 needles and the sleeves and main body on size 8 needles). If, for example, you need to go down from size 8 to a size 7 to get the correct tension for the body then you will also need to go down from size 6 to size 5 for the cuffs.
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:19 PM   #3
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That helps so much!! Thank you!
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:20 PM   #4
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Often the pattern will tell you what kind of stitches to knit in the gauge swatch. Many times it's stockinette (even for some items that predominantly use a pattern).

Since you're trying to figure out how large the finished project will be (without making the entire thing first), it makes the most sense to do a swatch (or swatches) in the stitches (or patterns) that are used most in the project. (So if you're making something that's predominantly garter stitch with ribbing, you would do your swatch in garter stitch.)

Note that cables will pull the knitted fabric together and lace will stretch it out.

The only time I do a swatch for ribbing, by the way, is when I'm trying out a new type of ribbing. Since it can be either very stretchy or not very stretchy (oh, well, and everything in between, too), it's a good idea to test out how the new ribbing behaves. However, if I'm using k1, p1 or k2, p2 ribbing, I don't worry about creating a swatch for them.

Creating gauge swatches is a great idea, especially if you can create a log of information about the yarns and needles you commonly use. I have started using Ravelry's yarn stash feature to record this kind of information. Then when I want to start a new project, I can go there and see what gauge I got for that yarn last time. I still may need to adjust needle sizes, but at least I have a starting point.
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:24 PM   #5
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Thanks so much. Now I know how, and why. Why is a biggie for me, so thank you both again
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:42 PM   #6
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Gauge swatches are important and doing them in a way that is useful is important but you should also be aware that your gauge can change after you've been working on a project for a while, especially something with lots of stitches in the rows. It's a good idea to check now and again to see if your project's gauge is still what it started out as. If you start knitting looser you might need to change down a needle size, tighter would need a larger needle. Not everyone will have a gauge change but it can be very frustrating to realize after you've finished that it happened. Ask me how I know.
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Old 06-22-2013, 02:58 PM   #7
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I'll definitely keep that in mind. My stitches do tend to get tighter as I go. Thank you, GG.
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:41 PM   #8
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Gauge is so important that it's good you're asking all these questions. You've gotten lots of excellent advice but do come back with more questions as you go along if you need to. If you haven't seen the videos here for gauge, they're worth a look (about two-thirds of the way down the page). Good luck and enjoy!.
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Old 06-23-2013, 07:05 AM   #9
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Just wanted to add my "2 cents" here..........Yes, gauge swatches are important -- when you are working on an item of clothing that has to be a specific size. I don't make one for EVERY project I knit.

When I'm knitting an afghan, baby blanket or dishcloth I don't bother with a swatch. I just cast on and get started with the actual item itself. Since it really doesn't matter if these are a little bit bigger or smaller than the pattern calls for -- I just wing it.

hth,
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Old 06-23-2013, 07:38 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dclutterchique View Post
Yes, you do a new swatch for each project, as yarn size & type, needle size, the pattern writer's personal tension and your personal tension are all variable factors in the final tension.
Originally Posted by knitcindy View Post
Just wanted to add my "2 cents" here..........Yes, gauge swatches are important -- when you are working on an item of clothing that has to be a specific size. I don't make one for EVERY project I knit.

When I'm knitting an afghan, baby blanket or dishcloth I don't bother with a swatch. I just cast on and get started with the actual item itself. Since it really doesn't matter if these are a little bit bigger or smaller than the pattern calls for -- I just wing it.

hth,
knitcindy
Thanks for raising that point, knitcindy. When I was talking about projects I was thinking of garments where fit is important, not things like dishcloths and blankets. I agree about not doing swatches for dish cloths. As for blankets and afgans, if they have a stitch pattern that can distort the overall size, eg cables, I'd probably do a swatch to make sure I'm not too far out, otherwise I'd go with you and wing it.
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