Over the weekend I asked a question on Instagram about why people do or don’t swatch before a sweater and why they don’t block finished objects. I got a lot of responses about swatches and thought I’d bring the conversation over to the blog.
I typically always swatch before starting a garment. Now if the gauge is super close and I’m using the same yarn I used on another project at the same gauge, I won’t swatch. My knitting and tension are very consistent so I usually know what to expect.
Example I swatched for the sweater on the left but didn’t swatch for the sweater on the right. Both had a gauge of 22×30 and for both I used Miss Babs Yowza, so I knew the needles to use already when I knit the second one and saved myself a step. But if the yarn is new, the gauge is something I’ve never gotten or it’s in a stitch pattern I haven’t used before I definitely swatch. Typically I want to know how many rows per inch I get because if I want to adjust a sleeve or the pattern says ‘knit for 3 inches’ I know how many rows per inch will get me that inch. I’m not always spot on but I’m definitely very close to what a pattern requires, hence why I get a good fit with my garments.
I also block my swatches because the gauge can change based on the fiber and how much it stretches. A lot of people said they didn’t swatch or block their swatches because they didn’t want to waste expensive yarn. Even if you block your swatch, cut it from the ball you can still use it if you need it or lost a game of yarn chicken. I’ve done it before. A lot of people also said they just didn’t swatch because they wanted to jump right in – instant gratification knitting. I get it but it is always a gamble. Now when it comes to blocking.
I ALWAYS block, whether it’s a deep wet block, steaming or throwing a superwash yarn in the washing machine – I block. Blocking helps to loosen the stitches and help smooth out your knitting, especially with colorwork. A lot of people said they don’t block because they just don’t have the space but I feel like it’s the final step in finishing your knitting. So tell me, why do or don’t you swatch? And why do you or don’t you block your knits?