How about we end February with a series of comments left on the blog recently related to Swatching With Reluctance, with a few of my annotations. The italics parts are mine.
I have never understood swatching. I hear people talk about it and I know it has something to do with gauge, which I also don't understand. Do you swatch in stockinette or garter or try to follow some portion of the pattern you intend to use? If you need the pattern, what about borders and such?And what's with the washing first? Is this why my perfect project ends up either fitting Barbie or Bigfoot instead of my family after it's washed? I always follow the pattern and the washing instructions for the yarn and nothing I make ends up useable except scarves and dishclothes.
- Commenter name: Pam
(This, my dear Pam, is I suppose why those swatching drill sergeants say you should swatch, though I have never found that a swatch really tells me much except that I am one of the blessed ones who knits on the labeled gauge darn close to 100% of the time. By stating this with such hubris, I am sure I will be bit on the butt for my next project. Also, just start knitting your project. Then measure the gauge. There's your swatch. If it's not coming out right [like my mom's Shetland wool sweater recently, I ripped out 9 inches of knitting because it was too loose, but I maintain that a little 4-inch swatch would not have told me that.] But of course this does not account for stupid annoying, slippery, squeaky, ugly superwash yarns which grow exponentially every time you wash them -- and if that's not bad enough, they pill like a mofo too -- so I just don't use them. Problem solved. Heh. But of course, all this so-called knowledge and all this highly opinionated opinion-making was born of experience. You just have to try and see what works for you. What works for me is what works for most of the rest of these commenters, it appears: Just knit the damn thing.)
Yeah, but when you swatch, you have to do one big enough, you have to measure it, count the rows, then wash it, let it dry, block it and measure again. I could get two sleeves done in that amount of time. Well, maybe if they were barbie sleeves, but you get my drift.
- Commenter name: Stacy
There are lies, damn lies and swatch-lies. Also, I guess I'm kinda cheap, God Bless Me. It pains my cheapsake soul to waste perfectly good yarn to make a #@^&* lying swatch! <----- ME TOO!
- Commenter name: Joannah
I do swatch, but it is a frustrating experience - my swatches seem to have little relation to the knitted item that follows. (large sigh) Just knowing that you should wash coned yarn is useful. I once used yarn that my sister bought at a farmer's market. I debated washing it, because it just felt - wrong - but in the end did not. It ended up okay, but if I had it to do again, I would go with my gut and wash that thing before knitting, instead of after.
- Commenter name: Robin V
I'm so glad to read the comments from people who don't swatch much either. About the only time I do swatch is if I'm substituting yarn.
- Commenter name: Sandy
I swatch reluctantly, but not if I am very familiar with a particular yarn.
- Commenter name: Cindy
Swatch? I don't need no stinkin' swatch. Well....maybe ...sometimes. Glad you stayed safe. When does Mr. Jeffries come home?
- Commenter name: emmy
<---- He comes home this Friday! We miss each other. Abigail sent this photo of him just looking depressed in his crate.
(or maybe I'm reading a bit into it)
I don't like swatches, but sometimes I do them....... I once knit myself an Aran cardigan (unswatched) that turned out to be an Aran bathrobe, size enormous. I'm lazy, but I am teachable!
- Commenter name: Barbara M.
Swatches, I hate 'em, but I force myself to do them sometimes. Hope things up there get sunny and clear soon!
- Commenter name: Becky <----------Me too! And so do my little seed babies:
Swatches are good in many occasions and they always give us something to blame!
- Commenter name: Rachel
I'll usually swatch if the yarn isn't very smooth or if the FO is going to be a garment for someone else. Hope you had a good drive home today!
- Commenter name: Jess
And I'm a non-swatcher, too. I measure the pieces as I start.
- Commenter name: Mary Fran
Swatches? I do make them because I often substitute yarns in my knitting and need to confirm gauge...but finished swatches add to my in-progress, patchwork, crazy quilt-type afghan, so I don't mind them. Stay cozy!!!
- Commenter name: Lynn
I agree with you Norma about doing a swatch - I only take the time when it's absolutely necessary. (Oh, and you are all invited to Atlanta where it will be in the mid-60s today and a balmy 75 degrees tomorrow.) <-- That last part of the comment was just MEAN!
- Commenter name: Lisa H.
Swatches are a total pain, but I do them sometimes. Not often, but there are times when they are, alas, completely unavoidable. It sounds like yarn all gooped up for machine knitting is one of those times, alas.
- Commenter name: Laura
I'm not a big fan of swatching, but I do swatch when I'm using a yarn I don't know well, or when I have to get a gauge not normal for the yarn. But only enough to see if it works. I don't make huge swatches, and I don't detach them from the ball, wash them, or do any of the myriad other things I've heard people recommend one do with those fancy swatches. I just want to start knitting with a semi-reasonable idea that what I want to knit with that yarn will actually be what I wanted to knit with it. Not much to ask, right?
I loathe swatching - a waste of time and yarn for something that's going to lie anyway... 8) When making a sweater, I'll often start with the sleeves - they're just very large swatches. If I've goofed with needle size, I start over, but if not, I'm off to a flying start.
- Commenter name: gayle
I don't swatch, either. I just start knitting...then if I decide I don't like the way it's turning out, I pull it out and either change needle size or stitch pattern. So I guess it's a hit-or-miss superswatch sort of system. Once I knit most of a scarf for a friend holding the yarn double before I convinced myself that I really thought it would be better if I only used a single strand and started over.
- Commenter name: Elizabeth
As a rule, I don't swatch. I have a couple of times, more out of curiosity. Looks like we have an anti-swatch club in the making here :^)
- Commenter name: Marianne
I am also an anti-swatch person. I am glad to be with friends here!
- Commenter name: Stephie
I, too, am totally anti-swatch. They take time and who wants to spend a bunch of time trying to count those little stitches? Besides all that...the little buggers lie. They lie I tell ya!
- Commenter name: Marilyn
I hate to swatch too. It falls in the "I should but..." category. Did you at least sleep well in the hotel? Sometimes, that's the best part.
- Commenter name: Collette
Plus, swatches lie! I was reading the Friday post when your tweet about this one popped up in the corner of my screen. It was very odd to be reading your post and have your face suddenly appear..... <-------You're not the only one! Having my face suddenly appear would be unnerving to several people, I think.
- Commenter name: janna