Check that Gauge
Gauge swatches are essential for sweater knitting. Knitting a little piece of the pattern before starting a big project can make a big difference to the success of a finished piece. This little square can give you a lot of information about your yarn, your needle size, and pattern texture. It is really, really useful and not to be skipped or else you risk an epic failure.
That being said, knitting the gauge swatch is usually my least favorite part of a knitting project, though I am not really sure why. It’s probably the same reason why I hate packing and planning for a trip, but once I am underway, I feel like I can relax and enjoy the process. Maybe the reason why I dislike the gauge swatch is because it can reveal flaws, and it may cause me to rethink the whole project. That can be a pain, especially if it took me awhile to match the pattern and yarn together in the first place.
In the last 2 days, I have knit 5 gauge swatches for three projects.
The first, top one, I was lucky and got gauge with my first try. That’s always a satisfying and happy feeling.
The second, middle one, I was not so lucky. That one is actually the third yarn I tried for this pattern. I felt like Goldilocks with this one. The first yarn was too thin, the second was too thick, but the third was just right! It’s not so fun when this happens, but it’s better to do this at this stage than to knit a whole sweater and hate it in the end.
The third, bottom swatch, was a surprise to me. It’s very close to the right gauge, just half a stitch off, but I like the fabric. In cases like this when the yarn seems right and the gauge is just a tiny bit off, I have to make a choice. Either, I like the fabric enough to try to fudge the pattern to fit my gauge, or I do another swatch to try to get gauge and see what happens. Actually, in this case, I have decided to do neither. I have decided to walk on the wild side with this one and go ahead and start the project with the next needle size down, which would ideally give me the right gauge. Risky, I know. But, I really think it will turn out alright in the end. Hopefully, I won’t regret it!