Many knitters and crocheters do not like swatching.
They see it as a waste of time and yarn. Swatching delays their ability to get to the good part of actually starting a project.
There is often little the pro-swatching crowd can say to change their minds, but it doesn’t stop us from trying!
Swatching is usually done to ensure you’re knitting at the recommended pattern gauge. If your gauge is correct your finished project will be the correct size.
However, swatching can have other uses, such as testing out an unfamiliar technique or learning a new stitch pattern.
In this example, I used swatting to test out the colors I’m using for a striped top.
Mila is a new cotton blend yarn (91% Cotton, 9% Polyester Metallic). It comes in 109 yard (50 g) balls and has a recommended gauge of 4.5 sts on a US8 needle. You can see all 12 colors here. You can preview the rest of the book here.
When it was time to select my spring projects I knew I wanted to make something with Mila since cotton has a reputation of being hard to work with. Many people find it fatigues their hands.
I have not found that to be the case with Mila. The yarn’s chainette construction gives it spring and allows for smooth stitching.
When I was selecting my colors I’d only glanced through the book, but hadn’t settled on a project. I remembered many of the projects had striped versions and that seemed fun for the summer.
I started with blue, because it is one of my favorite colors. (You can really see the shiny bits in the blue ball.)
Then I selected white, because it goes with everything.
Then I took orange, because I was feeling frisky that day and orange and blue are paired on the color wheel.
As you can see, Louisa shows Billy in two colorways.
The red version has long sleeves, while the green and yellow version has short sleeves. (I’m making the short sleeved version.)
I would say the options shown in the book are gradient.
My three colors are far from gradient!
If I’d been buying the yarn at my local yarn store with the book in hand I probably would have followed the example in the book and made a gradient version. Probably in blue. As it was I had to get creative.
But getting creative is one of the best parts of knitting and crocheting! We can make our projects in the colors we want!
I remembered that dark colors are suppose to minimize the area they cover so blue would go at the bottom around my hips. White in the middle with orange at the top seemed logical, but I wasn’t sure.
I fished out my trusty copy of Maggie Rhigettie’s “Sweater Design in Plain English” and reread the section about colors influencing how we view a garment.
She says dark colors minimize and light colors draw the eye. Suddenly I wasn’t sure about having white around my waist!
The only way to be sure (and avoid knitting a sweater with which I wouldn’t be happy) was to swatch. I knit abbreviated versions of the stripe sequence to get an idea of how the colors would look together.
I started with orange in the middle, since it was the option I was most unsure about.
I don’t like it. Some people might prefer it (and that’s OK! ), but to me it a little too “sports team.”
Happily, the white in the middle was in line with my vision of the sweater.
It was safe for me to proceed.
The other thing all the swatching confirmed was that my gauge was correct. I was very surprised when my first swatch with the suggested needle size was spot on. Usually I have to go down a needle size!
Have you worked a swatch for a reason other than to check your gauge?