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 Swatch Mitts and The Swatcher's Manifesto
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churchlady
Warming Up

Canada
81 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2010 :  10:13:02 AM  Show Profile Send churchlady a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't usually wash a swatch, but when faced with expensive, handpainted yarn with instructions "dry-clean only" how can you block or finish it w/o steam or misting? Of course the swatch was fine in a careful bath, but it was light-coloured, and who can blame them for being cautious? A swatch is a great chance to improve my comfort with a stitch pattern, and the look of it "matures" over a few inches, also, construction details I often forget to try out in the swatch could have been practiced and improved. I usually start out sweaters with the sleeves instead of the back, and check my gauge again on them, as my swatches sometimes turn out a different gauge than the fabric of the garment, and sleeves are smaller to frog. I don't like fingerless gloves--I'll have to ask my sisters at Christmas.
Sandra
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4404 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2010 :  3:41:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I so love reading all these different viewpoints on swatching! And I appreciate your honesty on the subject. It's not a crime to hate swatching, or to refuse to swatch, or to think the whole thing is silly - just as it's not a crime to do nothing but swatch all day long. (At least I hope it isn't, because they don't allow knitting needles in prison. And I'm not in the mood to crochet a poncho. Although if I must, I must.)

And I loved what Bess said about the unfinished projects in her stash being just really large swatches. If that's true, then I'm an even more avid swatcher.

For me, part of it is work-related. I began swatching for Knitter's Review. But after years and years of doing it, just for the swatching sake and with no final project in mind, I found it supremely gratifying. As Deb Robson noted over on Facebook, it's the pure potential of it. Your mind can go wild imagining all the spectacular things you could knit out of that yarn. I even get butterflies sometimes (has that ever happened to you?) just thinking about all the fantastic things I could do with a particular yarn.

And then the next week comes and, disloyal yarnivore that I am, it's time to move on to a new yarn. Maybe 30 percent of the time I'll buy a yarn I've reviewed and make something for myself out of it, but most other times I simply move on. I love knowing how much is out there just waiting to be knit.

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
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Knitlin
Warming Up

95 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2010 :  3:31:00 PM  Show Profile Send Knitlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've never swatched. Just because I'm lazy. But I do see the purpose in it, and maybe, just maybe, I will try a swatch on my next project.



knitlin
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carolbeech
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
444 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2010 :  5:24:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit carolbeech's Homepage Send carolbeech a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If I'm doing a sweater, I consider the sleeve my swatch. Otherwise, I am not always great at doing a full swatch. I've had to rip out because of it too - and I berate myself, but I still can't seem to commit to swatching.

www.carolbeech.blogspot.com
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queen of the east
Seriously Hooked

Canada
877 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2010 :  7:55:05 PM  Show Profile Send queen of the east a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I swatch if I am knitting a sweater, that's what sleeves are for.
Actually I do swatch when I am working out stitch pattern combinations for lace items. Also if I have temporarily lost my mind and am attempting to knit something from a Victorian knitting pattern. The first time I tried out a pattern from Weldon's for a pair of ladies thigh warmers the circumference of the leg opening was barely large enough for a ferret to wiggle through let alone my chubby middle aged knees.
I am slowly warming up to swatching for swatchings sake.

Ann in Montreal
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Gibson Girl
Chatty Knitter

USA
151 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2010 :  10:06:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit Gibson Girl's Homepage Send Gibson Girl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah swatching, It's so hard to have the decipline to knit up that 4" square when you just want to jump in and get on with the joy of cascading rows of new lovly knitted fabric. I usually knit a bit to see if it looks like I'm on guage (which I normally am) then plunge in after frogging out the swatched bit. I rarely have any fitting problems so after nearly forty years of knitting, I'm OK with my swatching routine.
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bbrrtt1@cox.net
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2010 :  1:09:21 PM  Show Profile Send bbrrtt1@cox.net a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm a swatch avoider...and in my current project it's coming back to bite me! I usually buy just the right amount of yarn and do worry that the swatch will take up more yarn than I have for the project and I'm loathe to buy an additional skein/hank just for the purpose of swatching. I need to reconcile this hatred I have of the swatch, as I can clearly understand it's importance! Thanks for the reminder! Great article.
Beth
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RarePurls
New Pal

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2010 :  8:03:53 PM  Show Profile Send RarePurls a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First, as a shop keeper, I rely on your swatching every day! Love, love, love Knitter's Review. I also gently, and at times not so gently, encourage each and every one of my knitters to be one with the swatch. Knit it, use it, remember it.
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Irish Red
Warming Up

USA
59 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2010 :  09:48:38 AM  Show Profile Send Irish Red a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Never. Sorry, but never. I love the process of knitting and if the finished product is not the expected size, it will always fit someone. (This almost never happens, however!) To me, it feels like sitting in the car with the engine running, wasting gas and going nowhere. I realize I am very much in the minority here, but I have to be honest.

The Industrious Bee
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Jane
SustaYning Member

USA
4390 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2010 :  11:23:26 AM  Show Profile  Visit Jane's Homepage Send Jane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I can't count the number of times that swatching has averted a knitting disaster, or at the very least, disappointment. It won't stop me from knitting two left mitts by mistake (yesterday's knitting is now back in a ball of yarn), but it helps make sure that my knitting will result in the yarn's best fabric, the right drape, the right size, and a happy Jane! Thank you for encouraging us to be yarn whisperers, Clara!

Jane

Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
Blog: Not Plain Jane
Photos: Flickr Album
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KnittingKittens
Chatty Knitter

USA
173 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2010 :  06:08:05 AM  Show Profile Send KnittingKittens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I swatch for sweaters but not for socks,scarves or other little knits. I bought the Swatch Mitts from our lovely Clara and look forward to happy swatching in 2011.

To me, I suppose swatching is like trying out a new recipe before you serve it to your guests. I have done test cooking and baking if there are unfamiliar (to me) techniques or ingredients.
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kkknitter
Seriously Hooked

699 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2010 :  06:37:29 AM  Show Profile Send kkknitter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I must confess that I never ever swatch. But, then on the other hand I stick to socks, mittens, hats and other small projects. Usually it fits somebody. Once I retire and have a bit more time on my hands (ha!) I would like to try some bigger projects, and then I will swatch in order not to end up making a mess. Making swatches and sewing up finished projects though have the same lack of appeal for me. Funny how you get these ideas in your head, and then it is almost impossible to change. Old dog I guess.

Kristina

--kk

Flickr pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kkknitter/
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Marie
Chatty Knitter

347 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2010 :  3:53:57 PM  Show Profile Send Marie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I pretty much only swatch if it has to fit around a body...scarves, shawls, bags, mitts, even hats in most designs are forgiving enough that I can forego the swatch. I have ripped a few lace projects back to their start because I tend to knit tightly, and forget how much I have to overcompensate by going up needle sizes--but I still don't have the foresight to swatch since I cast on the full number and sail into the project with full confidence. (Admitting it now sounds pretty lame.)

I wonder if swatching preferences reveal some sort of hidden psychological tendencies...

Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted. ~John Lennon
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prixby
Chatty Knitter

USA
156 Posts

Posted - 12/27/2010 :  11:26:58 AM  Show Profile Send prixby a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I love swatching, in order to try out different stitches to see what will best show off the characteristics of the yarn. My problem is that my partner tries to run off with my swatch to use it as a hot pad in the kitchen before I'm done using it to determine gauge, washability, etc. for my project.

Industrious Bee, I just tried to convince my step-daughter to swatch before attempting her first sweater. She gave me the line about "even if it doesn't fit me, it will fit someone I know." How could I argue with that logic? :)

Life is what happens while we're listening to music.
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linda-gail
Permanent Resident

USA
1052 Posts

Posted - 12/27/2010 :  12:03:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit linda-gail's Homepage Send linda-gail a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am a convert. I used to hate "wasting" yarn and time on a swatch. I saw the light, though, on a few projects of mine that I was less than pleased with and on my "knitting godmother's" projects (she taught me almost all I know about knitting), which always turned out just right. I now swatch all sweaters and hats, though I don't swatch for socks, scarves and only sometimes for mittens/gloves. Those are usually knitted in a yarn gauge that I am familiar with. I find that swatching helps but is not always a guarantee. I sometimes do not have the same tension in my swatch as I do in a project, and it changes for certain during the project, as I get more familiar with the pattern. I can account for washing bloom or shrinkage, which is pretty significant and unexpected in some cases.

The swatching I really enjoy is swatching different stitch patterns in a particular yarn or the same pattern in different yarns. I could be happy doing that for hours at a time.


Linda, knitting and spinning away in MD
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susan@beeberrywoods.com
New Pal

11 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2010 :  10:14:29 AM  Show Profile Send susan@beeberrywoods.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In my 20s I swore I'd never swatch, but now I do swatch and savor the self-satisfaction in knowing I've grown. I swatch to find out what my gauge actually IS, but not to make adjustments or apologies for it. If the gauge I knit for a garment is looser or tighter than what the pattern calls for, then I go up or down a size. More often than not I take my gauge, DO THE MATH, and then start knitting one of EZ's creations - or something based on one of her creations. I've also started keeping a NOTEBOOK (I gasp, even at myself) where I note how many stitches I used in a baby garment (my favorite prototype for testing a new technique of color work), the size needle and the type of yarn. Moreover I've started looking back through it for notes that will inform whatever my next project is.

Susan - on MDI
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kkknitter
Seriously Hooked

699 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2010 :  10:26:21 AM  Show Profile Send kkknitter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wow you are organized! The notebook is a good idea since I tend to forget what size needles I used in some of my UFOs lying around.

--kk

Flickr pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kkknitter/
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jkluender
New Pal

2 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2011 :  6:09:25 PM  Show Profile Send jkluender a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am a new knitter and have only made a scarf and hand mitts. I fear making a swatch for fear I will not get gauge. The thought of making a swatch, washing it drying it, and measuring it only to find you didn't get gauge makes me ill. How much expensive yarn do you have to waste before you get gauge? I am making another scarf so I will not check gauge for that. I am planning a shawl using Rowan yarn. I will check gauge for that, but at $17 a skein, I better get gauge the first time!

Jennifer
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lori1551
New Pal

Canada
46 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2011 :  10:45:11 AM  Show Profile Send lori1551 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just a quick note as I'm reading all the comments about swatching (which I have never done). If you all saved your swatches and sorted by texture,,, you could join together and make a small blanket, dishcloths, lap blankets etc. with the swatches,,, then you would not be wasting your yarn... just a thought...

I have never had a problem,,but will start swatching too.. I enjoyed Clara's article very much...
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Patience
Permanent Resident

USA
1080 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2011 :  09:36:03 AM  Show Profile Send Patience a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I swatch sometimes but only for as little as it takes to measure my gauge....I can't imagine swatching a 4 to 6" square as many do, but it's probably the way to go for a few reasons. I try to measure on an inch or so and it's no easy task, let me tell you, and the kicker is that it's probably not too accurate either. However, knowing that, I don't normally change my ways, sad to say.



Knit On, Patience

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