Knit & Crochet Design Week, Day 2: Make a gauge swatch

(This post is part of my series for Knit and Crochet Design Week 2012.)

Designing a Simple Knit Beanie: Day 2

Today’s Design Week theme is techniques.  Instead, I’m focusing on my usual next step in the design process, which is to make a swatch.

Many knitters and crocheters hear the word swatch and start running for the hills.  I’ll admit that I often want to just dive into a project without swatching.  On the other hand, I do like to try out new stitches, techniques, or materials on something small before leaping into a huge project.  The swatch, to me, is that little sample, and I can also use it to check my gauge.

I find it confusing when a designer writes the gauge for the pattern in some random stitch.  I’m the first to admit that my knits and purls aren’t the same exact size, and I know many people struggle with getting a consistent tension on cables.  So why would you start with a stockinette stitch swatch if you are making a cabled project?  I much prefer to swatch the actual stitch pattern so I can see if I want to repeat it countless times during the project!  Also, I’ll have a better idea of whether my gauge in the pattern stitch is what the designer intended.

(And now a translation for all you crocheters out there: I’m the first to admit that my front and back post stitches aren’t the same exact size, so why would I start with a double crochet swatch if I’m making a post stitch basketweave project?)

With that in mind, I made a small swatch with the three stitch patterns I identified yesterday.  I think swatching is important, but let’s be real: it cuts into my already limited knitting time.  As a result, I’m a fairly lazy swatcher so I picked stitch patterns that could all be made on a 30 stitch swatch.

Since the project will be made in the round, I didn’t include the additional stitches on the edges for the stitch patterns.  In between each stitch pattern, I made four rows of purl stitches so I could start the next pattern stitch with a clean slate.  I also made my swatch flat, using the same set of circular needles I plan to use for the project.

Besides the size of my stitches, this swatch tells me a few things.  Since it has three different stitches on it, I can easily compare the amount of stretch and density between the stitches.

Simple Ripple swatch.

I love the way this pattern simulates a ripple while keeping the edges straight.  It was the stretchiest of my swatches.


Large Wicker swatch.

I love the look of this pattern.  With all the cables, it is a bit more involved to make than what I’m looking for with this specific project.  Also, the stitch pattern is quite dense, so in order for the hat to have some ease, I would have to increase my needle size.


Sandstorm swatch.

I liked this stitch pattern the best for this project.  It has some stretch and lots of great texture.  It doesn’t hurt that the stitch pattern has an awesome name, which, along with its texture, remind me of the Dune saga by Frank Herbert.  (Yes, I like to geek out on Dune.)   Having an interesting inspiration can only help out in the design process!

Tomorrow, I’ll get started charting out my pattern.


To read other Day 2 posts from Knit and Crochet Design Week, visit FreshStitches.

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