What to do with Swatches?

Several years ago I started saving my swatches. At the time I had some notion of how this could be a tangible record of past projects, especially items that were given away as gifts.

But as I accumulated more and more swatches I started to wonder if there was something I could do with them other than keep them in a shoebox. I pondered the conundrum and gradually an idea began to form: I could sew my swatches together into a patchwork blanket.

Obviously this won’t be an ideal solution for every swatch since some are oddly shaped or 3-dimensional, but I love the idea of taking something that would normally be discarded and making a memory blanket of sorts from it.

The upside of this plan is that the knitting is already completed, and all I have to do is the finishing. It also turns swatching into a part of an existing project, and not just a hurdle to clear before starting something new. The downside of the plan is that all the fun knitting is already done, leaving me with a million ends to deal with, and just as many seams to sew.

What do you do with your swatches?

Swatching

We all have those projects we dream of knitting but somehow seem to never start. I even have the yarn and patterns for some of these projects. Yesterday I decided there is no time like the present: I should start knitting now. My 2 selected dream patterns are both sweaters (I may be a bit loony).

The first is Esme by Purl Alpaca Designs. I have loved this sweater for years ever since I found it on a (now forgotten) blog.

I love the fit of the sweater. I love the neckline. I love the collar. The only thing I would change would be to knit it with 3/4 sleeves. If my swatch works out, I plan to use my Yarn and Soul Superfine 400.

My second dream sweater is cozier and less ethereal, but no less of a wardrobe staple: the Portage Cardigan by Melissa Schaschwary.

I am using Anchor Bay by Cascade yarns (50/50 cotton/merino), and it is delicious!

I can’t wait to see how these sweaters work up, and even more I can’t wait to wear them!

Swatching

Most of us have a thing about swatching. It takes time, and I want to cast on NOW!

sea

But here’s the thing: I’m a product knitter and I like things to fit. Which means that I swatch for almost everything (the exceptions being scarves and shawls and other things that wrap instead of fit). Which eventually means that I have lots of swatches laying around.

stripes

Sometimes I throw them away (after the project is finished. I don’t dare tempt the knitting goddess that way!). Sometimes I repurpose them into a coaster or a mug cozy.

mug cozy

If you really love Tetris, I suppose you could start a swatch afghan (Swatch-ghan?).

slipped

My personal downfall is laundering the swatch after I finish it. Instant gratification is so close, but I know that unwashed swatches lie way more than washed ones do, so I wash it and wait for it to dry, and finally FINALLY I can start my project.

crown

But only if I got gauge.

Fastest Project Ever!

So if you’re like me you have about a million swatches floating around your house. You occasionally think about a) making something with them, or b) throwing them away, but in reality they simply languish alone and unloved. I have a solution (that is not sewing them together to make a blanket): make a coffee cozy! Admittedly, this solution is better for larger swatches, but smaller ones could potentially be seamed together to make the right size.

Here is what I started with (I promise it’s greener than it looks):

swatch

After using the tails to sew a seam (Score! No extra ends!) this is what I have:

20170215_121133

Tadah! Just like magic.

I Swatched

To save time, take time to check gauge.

How many times have we all read this instruction? In theory it makes a lot of sense. You want to make sure that the project you are spending hours and hours of your life on will fit the intended recipient. But how often do we decide to skip this step and plunge straight into the (more) exciting part of starting the project?

I have decided to be a better person. I am taking the high road this time. I swatched.

I swear it’s actually green…

Arrrgh!

My knitting is refusing to work with me!

I am aiming for a gauge of 5 stitches per inch.

My first swatch on US 8 needles yielded 4.375 stitches per inch. It was light and airy and beautiful, which is what I am aiming for on this sweater.

My second swatch on US 6 needles yielded 4.75 stitches per inch. This swatch was also very pleasing, but it’s starting down the road toward super-warm-thick-sweater land. Not good.

I started a 3rd swatch on US 4 needles, but quickly came to the realization that a sweater knit that tightly would keep me warm on the frozen tundra despite airy lace panels (did I mention that I decided to do a different lace pattern than the sweater pattern specifies?).

So after a little math (God bless whoever invented the calculator!) I realized that if I knit the sweater a size smaller, but at my original gauge it would fit.

If my plan works out I will be a genius.

If not I will need lots of chocolate.

I’m thinking about stocking up on chocolate just in case…