So, it is often said amongst knitters that they do not enjoy swatching (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out our tutorial on gauge in knitting here). Even those who swatch anyways don’t love it, so here is our tip to sort of avoid swatching in a bottom up sweater, like all of the sweaters in Heart on My Sleeve.
A good swatch:
Confession time: I really only swatch for new designs and sweaters. I’ve been knitting a long time and I’m pretty confident my gauge will be right on (and that I need to go down a needle or 2 when it comes to ribbing). Armed with this information and a willingness to rip out a 1/2 finished hat/scarf/shawl because I’m not happy with the gauge, I go forth and cast on.
Garments are a whole other thing. Garments need a good swatch. A good swatch should always be indicative of the finished garment. It should be pretty big (at lease a 6″ square), it should be done the way the gauge in the pattern states (if it is over a cable pattern, measure it over a cable pattern, if it is on the smaller needles knit it on the smaller needles), it should be washed and blocked (some yarns change rather drastically after blocking), and if the gauge is given in rounds, the swatch should be in the round.
Sleeves as a gauge swatch:
Why must it be so complicated?! Some of us have a slightly tighter or looser gauge when we purl, so if you work an entire sweater in the round, it may be significantly different than if you had worked it back and forth. While you could do a swatch in the round (cast on, join for working in the round, knit for about 6″, bind off, cut your swatch and measure the gauge), in the case of a bottom-up sweater it seems more prudent to just cast on a sleeve.
Grab your smaller needles, bust out some ribbing, and start in on the sleeve. Once you get 4″ up the sleeve put the live sts on waste yarn and block your sleeve. If you find you are happy with the gauge, you can just carry on. If not, you can rip back to the ribbing and start from there with a smaller or larger needle as needed.
This handy dandy method fulfills the needs of a gauge swatch and the need to cast on RIGHT NOW at the same time. It’s the perfect solution.
More sleeve-first knits from TCK: