Let Me Change Your Mind About Swatching


Swatch – a small sample intended to show how a larger piece will work up

(Not the wristwatch. If you googgled and bing’d your way here for a sexy thingy that tells time, sorry. I wear cheap watches and blow my cash on what is really important in life… yarn.)

Most of the knitters and crocheters I know are perfectionists. Perhaps that is because I teach knitters and crocheters and the people who come to those classes are looking to improve their skills. But I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure 99.9% of knitters and crocheters are fussy, pain in the ass, nit pickers capable of looking past the 17,052 perfectly made stitches to obsessive over the one that is a little wonky.

Of those 99.9% hyper self-critics, 99.7% of them hate to swatch.

You see where I’m going with this, right?  You know what comes next, right?

Step 1) I deliver a mini-lecture about how that’s kind of a dumb attitude and you need to figure out our gauge and swatching is practice for the pattern and practice is what makes perfect and you should swatch before starting any sizable project.

Step 2) You agree everything in that mini-lecture because its all true.

Step 3) You keep on not swatching because swatching BORING and you want to get on with the project already.

So we’ll just skip the lecture. Here are some reasons to swatch that you might not have considered:

1) After making a swatch you can eat a slice of cake. Or pie. Or some nachos. Yes, you totally can.

2) The more time you spend making a swatch the less time you spend cleaning your home.

3) You don’t have to sew in any ends on a swatch.

4) Every swatch you finish is a new picture for Pinterest which will inspire envy in thousands of people who think you’re actually accomplishing stuff while they are not. The more people you can make feel bad about themselves, the more you win at Pinterest.

5) No one cares if your swatch is less than perfect, not even you. It’s the only pressure-free crafting you will every get.


I was going to include an argument made by the Yarn Harlot somewhere (I can’t track it down but I think its in one of her blog posts) that we knit for fun, and by swatching and ripping out, we get twice the fun from that yarn. Yeah, even I don’t buy that one. Go with the slice of cake, or pie, or whatever self-bribe works for you.

I promise, swatching will dramatically improve your work. If a project is going to take me more than one or two evenings to finish, I swatch. I don’t like it, but I do it. Before I got underway on my lacey green stole, I made two swatches. One was to work out the pattern and the second was to get the right needle size. That first swatch earned me a cinnamon roll. The next got me a cherry coke with a big dollop of Mexican vanilla. Yum!

A knitted WIP - Vine Lace Stole

Those swatches also got me a nice WIP stole. If you make a swatch, you won’t regret it. If you don’t, you may end up regretting a lot.

Print Friendly

Related Content


"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

9 Comments on "Let Me Change Your Mind About Swatching"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I really should have swatched before I started my double bed sized blanket. Thanks for reminding me the reasons why we swatch. One can never have too many dishcloths afterall


Sorry to hear about the blanket and I really hope you don’t have to rip. If its for a double bed, it must be a hefty project!


Okay, you’ve convinced me! Do you keep your swatches or do you rip them out?



I rip them out like a bad, bad girl. I may cast-on with a second ball and hold on to the swatch for a while, but eventually it gets ripped out and re-used.


Coke with vanilla…..yum!


I have to admit that I gravitate towards adjust as you go type patterns, like toe-up socks and top-down hats and sweaters, just so I don’t have to swatch, lol. I do occasionally end up with things like the handspun wrist warmers that turned out to be boot cuffs, though!


I find myself worrying if they said you should be able to achieve a certain gauge with ‘A’ size needle and I find myself having to use ‘E’ size needle. Then I start to question my own ability to craft lol and then I start to question their ability to craft and then I figure maybe blocking it out will get me there lol….which I also never do.


Lol! Too much thinking. Don’t you know that is bad for you?