I know swatching is boring. Why should you waste time knitting and possibly reknitting a square when you could be getting on with knitting your sweater or hat or whatever? Well what if the sweater doesn’t actually fit you after you’ve spent weeks working on it, or if your hat could be mistaken for a full body condom?
Knitting to gauge means that the finished item will be the size you want it to be and it will use the yardage the pattern says it will use. You can correct a little with blocking if something is a little small, but if it’s too big, or tiny… it’s going to be frogging time. Even though I know that using the recommended needles for a yarn I usually get my gauge right, I still make a swatch just to be sure. Swatching also gives you a chance to see the yarn knitted up, to see if you like it or, if it’s over a pattern, to get a little practice in before you start the project for real. These are all good things. Remember you need to treat the swatch in the same way you’re going to treat the finished item, so block it, that way you should have a good idea how things will turn out.
Ask yourself “Would I rather knit a small swatch or reknit the entire garment?” I know which I’d prefer…
*Before you knit a garment, you make a test piece of knitting. Your pattern will give the recommended tension you are looking for. If for example the tension guide says 14 stitches and 20 rows = 10 cm in stocking stitch, you knit a square in stocking stitch maybe 20 stitches wide then you count the stitches and rows you have over 10cm of the fabric, if you have fewer stitches than the tension guide you reknit it using smaller needles, if you have more stitches you use larger needles. Even half a stitch out can make a difference.