Swatching: a necessary evil?
If you are a knitter, or even if you have only just picked up your very first how to book, you have already been beaten over the head with the dirtiest of dirty words, swatch. I won’t tell you that you should do it, you can read about that in hundreds of other places. What I will tell you is how I avoid it. (I am writing this on my iPod, and it just autocorrected “how I avoid it” to “how unavoidable it”. Even machines are beating me over the head with the You Must Swatch propaganda.) To be fair, I am not suggesting that you never swatch. But the things I don’t like about it can be avoided. First, I hate wasting time. If I am going to spend an hour knitting something, I want to see progress at the end of that time. Second, I hate wasting the yarn. I am one of those people who can *just* knit a sweater out of 3 skeins. Or a hoodie out of 5. I can get more than one pair of socks out of my favorite brand of yarn, Three Irish Girls, so I can’t complain there, but it’s the principle of the thing. I do not like cutting my yarn for a swatch. If I did, I would wind up short by just that amount of yarn. But how do you wash/block the swatch, you might ask. Well, I put the item to soak in a bowl, and have the tail of the yarn trailing out of it. Yeah, some of it gets wet, but it dries. Faster than the knitting does.
But I am getting ahead of myself. I told you that I avoid swatching, and now I am telling you how I block, well, swatches. Ok, here is my trick. I try to knit things, and I definitely only design things, where the swatch is part of the item. Like a sock. Socks are small enough, I just knit. If it fits, I keep going. Sweaters, I start with a sleeve, or as in the case of my upcoming design, I start with the front top piece. It’s a vneck, knit from the top down, so those two pieces that cover the girls are perfectly swatch sized. (even in the smallest bust size that I am grading for, 30″. Don’t start thinking that this only works in the bigger sizes.)
If you are someone who loves to swatch, I admire you for it. If you are someone who would rather avoid it at all costs, I hope I have given you something to think about.