|Some hand knit and machine knit swatches.|
When you are knitting someone else's pattern, you make a little swatch (4 inches square at a minimum) because no two people knit or crochet at the same tension. Even on a good day, you might not be able to match the tension in a project that you had when you were working on it the day before. That's because we can be looser or tighter with the hooks and needles depending on our mood and physical state. If you want your garment to come out the right size after spending all that time knitting, it's a good idea to make a swatch. Maybe even two.
In general, I tend to knit tightly and usually have to go up a needle size or two to match someone else's pattern gauge, and if I am tense or hassled or tired, even three sizes bigger.
|Machine knit swatches are faster to make but pile up quickly.|
Okay, it makes sense to swatch someone else's design, but why do you swatch your own? Well, the ideas that seem the greatest in your head don't always end up working out so well in the hand. A swatch will show you where your thinking was off and help you to modify a design idea.
Accessories are often smallish in nature, and it can be argued that one might as well make the whole item right off; however, if you are making anything larger than a breadbox, or even a toaster, a swatch is a good idea.
|Swatch for a current project that's way bigger than a breadbox.|