Wise Words from Skacel
How to swatch: Gauge is usually given for a 4" X 4" swatch. Cast on the appropriate number of stitches for the 4 inches plus an additional 4 stitches. Work 3 rows in garter stitch. Then work in requested stitch pattern, always knitting the first and the last 2 stitches of every row. Work the correct amount of rows as given in the gauge. If a row count is not given, work for approximately 4 inches. Work 3 additional rows of garter stitch then bind off. Treat the swatch as yarn care instructions suggest. If they say it is ok to machine wash and tumble dry, do it. If you are to hand wash and lay flat to dry, do that. If you plan on machine washing even if the care instructions advice against it, then machine wash the swatch. Check for color fastness, shrinkage and growth. Some swatches will grow (the stitches separate) when agitated in the machine. When the swatch is dry, measure between the edge stitches for stitch gauge, and between the garter rows for row gauge. Row gauge will be extremely important if you are knitting side to side or if your project has a lot of shaping. If your gauge is less than asked for increase your needle size accordingly. If it is greater than asked for decrease your needle size, and work another swatch. Suggestions for swatches: Use swatches to make a quilt. Swatches make great patches on sweatshirts or jeans. Swatches are excellent pockets--a great way to adorn your garments. Take two swatches, add two sleeves and you've got yourself a teddy or doll sweater. Swatches travel easily--carry yours with you when looking for buttons.