There are no hard and fast rules in knitting. And no knitting police to review your work. How necessary is it getting gauge really?
How About Just Spelling The Word Correctly?
Another quirky English word that you can’t phonetically spell. Maybe the hard and fast rule is that you just memorize its spelling?
But on swatches…here are my thoughts.
Does your garment require a specific size when it’s finished? Do you like the drape of the fabric when you obtain the correct stitches per inch? How accurate is a swatch? What amount can you be off in your stitches/rows-per-inch that can be fixed by blocking afterwards?
If I’m helping a new knitter, I recommend that they understand the importance of gauge. They also need to know how to measure it. But like many things in knitting, I don’t think you should be a slave to a technique. Yes, it should be an important tool. But just like any tool, if the tool gets more in the way of your knitting than supports it, then it’s being misused.
Use Your Judgment
When you are a confident enough knitter to make adjustments to a pattern, I recommend throwing out the idea of a test swatch. Or more accurately, use the actual garment as your swatch. I’ve even been known to change my tensioning to get the result I want. If I want a tighter fabric, I’ll knit more firmly. Or more loosely if I want a looser, drapier fabric. Again, I don’t recommend this method for newer knitters who are just learning tensioning.
If stitches/rows-per-inch is important to the finished garment, I will measure my gauge. But I just start knitting the garment and measure/count stitches and rows when I’ve knit enough to measure it. If it’s a sweater, I’ll start with a sleeve. When I’m making a cowl or some other garment where the finished measurement needs to be approximately close to the design, I’ll again just start knitting it. If is too far off, I’ll rip it out and start again. Ripping out hundreds of stitches can seem daunting to a less experienced knitter. But for long-time knitters it’s part of the process. No?
But just remember the reasons why gauge is important. It’s NOT just sizing. It’s also the drape of your fabric. Or the loftiness of the yarn with the needle you’re using and how open and lacy the fabric ends up being.
Latest Gauge Issue
I recently started a baby blanket for my niece. The same blanket pattern was knit for her first baby three years ago.
Here’s my short video assessment of the first attempt.
And here’s what I ended up with when I “re-swatched” on a larger needle.
Yes, I did waste an hour or two of knitting time by not doing a swatch. But honestly, it was helpful re-acquainting myself with the pattern (which sucks by the way…there are TONS of mistakes in it).
I’m quite pleased with how this is turning out.
Any thoughts on the color (now that I’ve got the gauge correct)?