Do your knitted swatches ever lie?
Have you ever faithfully knit a gauge swatch, measured and decided that you had the correct number of stitches according to the patter? So you happily start knitting away on your dream project only to find out that your finished sweater (or whatever project you are working on) is either too big or too small?
There are actually a number of things that could have gone wrong. I’m going to talk about a few of those things so you can hopefully avoid them in your knitting projects.
Your swatch was too small.
If you really want to get a good idea of how the yarn behaves, you should really knit a swatch that is 6”-8” square. I will admit that this particular one is hard for me. I am usually excited to get started, so will often only knit a 4” square.
You didn’t wash and block your swatch.
When your knit fabric is washed, it will change. It may bloom and relax. Sometimes it will relax A LOT and sometimes it will relax just a bit. If you don’t wash a block your swatch, you could end up with a project that is completely the wrong size for you. ALWAYS wash and block your swatch the way you plan to wash and block your project. Typically that means soaking your swatch in a wool wash such as Eucalan or Soak, gently squeeze to get rid of the excess water and lay flat to dry. That’s it! Make sure your swatch is COMPLETELY dry before you measure it. It’s hard to wait, but please do!
You knit your swatch flat, but your project is knit in the round.
Many knitters get different gauges for their stockinette in the round versus their stockinette that is knit back and forth. Make sure you knit your swatch in the round if your project will be in the round. There are several tutorials out there, so I won’t go into how to knit a swatch in the round today.
You’ve changed your style of knitting.
When I first learned to knit, I learned to knit in the English style (sometimes referred to as throwing), but a few years ago, I learned to knit in the Continental style (also referred to as picking). My gauge is different with each style. I still knit using both styles depending on the project, so I have to make sure I remember which style I am using for which project.
You are using a different needle for your project than what you used for your swatch.
Don’t think it makes a difference? Take a look at my two cowls in the picture above. Both were knit by me, using the same number of stitches and using the same style of knitting. I actually knit the cowls just a couple of days apart from each other. One was knit with my Addi Turbo needles and the other one was knit with my Lykke needles. On this small project, it didn’t make a difference for me. I gave the smaller cowl to my younger daughter and the larger one to my older daughter. In another situation, it can make the difference between a sweater that fits you and a sweater that fits someone else! Ask me how I know! I was actually on the receiving end of this problem one time and I have a beautiful hand knit sweater that I didn’t have to knit!
I hope these tips can help you avoid some gauge problems! Happy knitting!