All knitters have questions about the best way to do things, why different things happen while they are knitting, how to fix knitting mistakes and more. Here is this weeks questions posed by Brenda Buckley.
Question : My pattern says to knit a swatch before starting to knit the sweater is it necessary and what is it?
Answer: YES YES YES!
|Yarn Weight||Min. Number of Pattern Stitches||Garter Stitches for edge borders||Total Number for Cast On||Min. Number of Rows incl. 4 rows garter at beg and end|
As you can see, the figures for the cast-on and the number of rows to knit are based roughly on what the yarn weight in question generally yields for a standard gauge and really represent the bare minimum numbers you will need for an accurate measurement. Remember, the bigger the swatch, the more accurate your gauge will be, so don’t hesitate to make it as large as you can. Of course, if you are working a flat swatch in a stitch pattern, you’ll want to make sure you include at least 3 patterns repeats AND any additional stitches included at the end of the row.
With a ruler (not a tape measure – tape measures stretch and do not give accurate measurements) and some straight pins, measure a width of either one inch or four inches, depending upon the directions you are using, making sure that you pick an area of the swatch away from the borders to avoid distortion. Insert the pins as shown in the photo.
Repeat for the row gauge as shown in the next photo.
Stitch gauge is almost always a mandatory measurement, with the exception of those knitted items that will not be shaped to fit, such as afghans, scarves, washcloths and so on. Row gauge is absolutely critical if you are knitting any raglan garment or a fully-fashioned sleeve, if the pattern is Fair Isle, other colorwork, or certain Aran designs, where the charted design constitutes the entire garment piece and dictates the finished length. Always analyze your pattern to see if row gauge is critical to the finished garment or not. Most of the time row gauge will not matter too much but make sure you know when it does.