Knitting Gauge Swatches

See how it curls up?

Do you knit gauge swatches?  Gauge Swatches are those 4 inch by 4 inch squares that you knit before starting a new pattern.  Before you begin a new pattern you’re supposed to take the yarn and the suggested needles and cast on a certain number of stitches and knit a certain number of rows.  Then measure the swatch.  It should be 4 inches by 4 inches.

Never heard of this?  Grab a pattern and start reading it at the very beginning.  It says something like “check gauge,” “save time, check your gauge.”  The latest pattern that I plan on knitting suggests that I check my GAUGE!  Yes, I think the pattern is yelling at me.

I bought yarn that I’ve never worked with before and it’s a new pattern.  So for the first time in a long time I decided to check my gauge.  Now I have a 4 inch by 4 inch square that curls up terribly.  What I’ve learned by doing this is that this yarn knit in stockinette stitch will CURL UP! I’ve also learned that I did pick the correct needle size for this yarn and this pattern.  If I’d skipped knitting the gauge swatch I’d be halfway done with my project!  Which is why so many knitters are tempted to skip this step.

If the yarn was white it would look like a surrender flag!

Now I’m left with a 4 inch by 4 inch square.  I’ve heard a rumor that some people save these.  Maybe they make blankets out of them?  The few times I’ve done a gauge swatch I’ve simply unraveled it after measuring it.  That way I have enough yarn for my pattern and am not wasting any of it.


About All Unwound

Knitting, Felting, and Spinning are consuming all of my time! Please FAN All Unwound on Facebook
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8 Responses to Knitting Gauge Swatches

  1. angie says:

    I’m always tempted to skip this but I’m glad I don’t. I usually end up having to use a different size needle than called for. I just unravel mine after knitting too.

    • All Unwound says:

      My knitting is very even and consistent and the needles listed are almost always the right size for my knitting. So gauge swatches are almost always a waste of time for me. I do them when working with a yarn that’s totally new to me. After all, knitting an entire project wrong would be a bigger waste of time!

  2. Kala says:

    I am learning to knit, and this was such an important lesson, thank you. Hope you are having a fabulous weekend:)

  3. All Unwound says:

    Thanks Kala! I’m finishing a felted purse for my shop and then I’m going to rip out that gauge swatch and get started on my new project.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I know that I SHOULD do a gauge swatch to make sure I’m on the right track, but I always feel like I’m wasting my time/yarn when I could be working on my project. Plus, I personally think that half the fun of a pattern is having it turn out a little different, either because of the yarn or the tension or the needle size. I guess it’s my way of personalizing my work.

    That said, it probably wouldn’t kill me to knit a gauge swatch. I really should be making more of an effort.

    • All Unwound says:

      Yes knitting a Gauge Swatch can be a waste of time. I could have had half my project done by now! But if I had the wrong needles for the yarn then the project wouldn’t fit. So it’s worth it when using a new yarn or new pattern.

  5. I’d love to see a blanket made together of all the 4 inch by 4 inch squares. It would be very eclectic! 🙂

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