To swatch or not to swatch, that is the question

Knitters and crocheters alike are constantly advised to make a gauge swatch before beginning a new project. While this is extremely wise counsel, I must admit that I occasionally break the rules and skip my swatch. Actually, I have developed my own personal set of “rules” that help me decide whether or not to make a swatch. Before embarking on a new knitting or crochet journey, I ask myself a few quick questions that help me answer the bigger question: To swatch or not to swatch?

guessed on gauge
I don’t like to gamble this much.

1) Does size matter? When it comes to sweaters, I am a dedicated swatcher. Why spend all that time making a garment that isn’t going to fit? In the case of clothing, I firmly believe in taking time to save time. After all, stitching up a swatch takes no time at all compared to the hours put into making the actual sweater. However, if I’m making a toy, I’ll skip the swatch. My kiddo won’t care if her play food is 4″ wide or 5″, so I’m likely to just start with the actual knitting or crocheting. That brings me to my next question…

Merry Moose
Gauge is not essential for this project

2) Is the finished project smaller than a swatch would be, or is it a big project? Toys (like the adorable Merry Moose) are often quicker to create than a swatch! Even if I get started and realize the stitches are too loose and the stuffing might show through, I can rip it out without feeling defeated. However, I swatch for big items unless they pass my third and final test question.

Rippling_Ridges_Throw__200px
Worsted weight yarn in double crochet – one of my favorite combinations

3) Am I familiar with the stitch pattern and the yarn? If I’m making a blanket in one of my go-to yarns and all in double crochet (like the Rippling Ridges Throw), I feel confident enough to skip the swatch. However, if I want to see how a new stitch pattern or yarn works up, I’m happy to make one. I love knitting and crocheting, so I take swatching as an opportunity to test out my pattern and materials. It’s a quick, easy, non-committal excuse to CRAFT, and that’s never a bad thing.

Are you a swatching fanatic who makes one before every project, or are you adamantly anti-swatch (don’t worry, we won’t tell the crafting police :))? Perhaps you’ve also found a happy medium that works for you? We’d love to hear your views on this controversial subject, so tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on the Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet Facebook pages!