Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Hint for Knitters

How large should your gauge swatch be? Standard advice is, at least three repetitions of the pattern, or four inches square. I think it should be more. I think you may as well make more use of your swatch than merely to get the correct gauge. You should use it to test your pattern in various ways: to find out what sorts of mistakes you tend to make and where, to find out if you actually like the pattern and enjoy knitting it or whether it turns out to be a crashing bore, and to get the pattern properly into your head. Keep working your test square until you know what you’re doing instead of the instructions being just abstract words, until you have worked out your little cant (what you will recite to yourself to keep track of what you’re doing): “first decrease, first hole, second decrease, second hole, knit four …” that sort of thing. Keep working until you can recognize a mistake within a few stitches after you make it or at least by the next row instead of 26 rows later.

It’s well worth the investment of time. Plus, you’ll end up with a potholder, a little doily, a pillow cover, a quilt square or a pretty mat. Or at the very least, you’ll have a sample to pin to the instructions afterwards before you file them away.


Anam Cara said...

I am attempting crochet again for the first time in more years than I can remember. Just tonight I was wondering if I should have made a test piece to work out the guage - but since it's just a big triangular shawl, I don't think it really matters. (and I am already deviating from the pattern - decided I didn't really like it!)

Next time.....