I have noticed a few things about gauge swatches which I find interesting:
- It seems like the newer and more inexperienced a knitter/crocheter is, the less they want to make gauge swatches.
- Pretty much every “how to” resource you read really stresses the importance of gauge swatches.
And yet, I still hate to do them myself. You should swatch every time. And yet, there are circumstances under which I will just just skip the swatch. Every time I do I take a risk that the finished product won’t be the correct size and that I’ll run out of yarn. However, sometimes choosing not to make a swatch is a calculated risk I’m willing to take. If all three of these criteria are met, I will sometimes skip a gauge swatch:
- If I making something that doesn’t have a “fit”: blankets, shawls, curtains, etc.
- If the pattern is by an established publisher
- If the yarn is made of fibers I’ve worked with before
Items that don’t have to fit
If an item has a size, you need to do a gauge swatch every time. There really isn’t any getting around this. If you don’t, you will probably end up doing a lot more work in the long run than you would have just doing the darn swatch. So, if you are going to put it on someone’s body, swatch.
I have come to find that if I am making something with a pattern by an established publisher – something from a book or a magazine or a really well established designer on Ravelry – I can count on the gauge being pretty reasonable most of the time. There have been exceptions – like a sweater I made once that I had great difficulty even getting the gauge no matter how small of needles I used – but usually established designers seem to have a pretty consistent gauge. On the other hand, the person who has a free pattern up on Ravelry or a web site whom you’ve never heard of before is more likely to have a messed up gauge.
When the fibers are those I’ve worked with before I generally know how they will behave. If its something new or rare to me, I gauge to take out the uncertainty.
When do you skip the gauge swatch? Do you hate to swatch?