Work in Progress: A Swatch Goes a Long Way


For a long time I skipped over swatches. I knew myself to be a tight knitter, so I just always went up a size needle and moved on. Like many who have since learned for the better to swatch, I had that one fatal project that converted me. I think it was a Vogue Knitting pattern; it had this beautiful garter neckline. So I went about my knitting, this pattern being bottom up, and by the time I got to my neckline it was 1.5 times too wide for my shoulders.

This brings me to the first lesson of writing a pattern, or knitting one for that matter. Always swatch! It may seem to delay the joyous act of creating your finished garment, but in the end, will save you a lot of heartache when the finished project doesn’t turn out as desired. For the diamond pattern I chose for this sweater, I decided to knit a few repeats. This will do you a few favors in the long-run: give you your number of stitches in four inches and give you a feel for the overall fabric, as well as working out any problems in the pattern. Depending on your stitch pattern, you will have to adjust your needles to get the right effect. In the case of this lace pattern, I switched needle sizes twice before obtaining the fabric I wanted. With brioche, for example, you may have to go up several needle sizes, with lace down. Rather than viewing it as a chore that has to be done, use this time to experiment and have fun with the textures you are creating.

Once you decide on a needle size, it is time to get down to the nuts and bolts of the project, how the pattern is written. This will be the time to clarify any misconceptions and make any necessary edits. For example, when working the above pattern, I found that the point of the diamond, as written, did not appeal to me. This is, after all, my pattern I am creating. So, why not take the time to tailor it to exactly my aesthetic?