This is a hijacking!

Everyone stay seated at your computers. Calm down, you over there in Oregon. It’s not what you think.

I, Presbytera, have hijacked the Yarn Harlot’s blog today for purely humanitarian reasons. As you know, our Stephanie has been carrying a weighty burden these many months, a burden made up of one extra-large Newfoundlander, three teenaged girls (enchanting, but teens nonetheless), a blog that must be fed regularly, a book deadline, a cat, an author tour, and – lest we forget – a grey handspun gansey.

It’s simply too much for one person, no matter how much she reminds us of a superhero. So here I am today, blogging for the first time ever, trying to help my friend.

Are you still here? Really? I’m flattered.

Other than being a “professional commenter” I do actually knit, so today I thought I’d share with you one of my guiding principles:

I don’t swatch.

I know. I know that it flies in the face of who-knows-how-many of years of knitting wisdom, and I know that many of you swear by swatches. (I also know what you’re thinking — but I do knit more than scarves. I knit sweaters and socks and hats and lace and everything.)

The main reason I don’t swatch is because I have never, ever, had a swatch that told me the truth about what I was making, how the yarn would behave, or what size I would end up with. It just never worked as promised for me. So eventually, I stopped. And I’m much happier for it. (I swear a lot less, too.) For your entertainment today, here are a few of the ways I get around the issue:

1. I always make toe-up socks. It’s nice to use up all the yarn for one thing, partly because I admire efficiency and partly because I’m cheap. In terms of swatching, though, it eliminates most of the guesswork. When starting a toe-up sock, I begin with an 8 stitch by 8 row square. This is where I decide if I like the fabric my chosen needle size is making and change if I feel like it. (You could call it swatching, technically, I guess, but that tiny square takes all of five minutes and doesn’t get washed or measured or anything.) When you start at the toe, you pick up around the square and increase until the sock fits comfortably around the toes of the intended recipient’s foot, right? Well, since I make socks only for immediate family members, the foot in question is usually available for quick measurements. So I cruise along until the foot hits the ankle, and try it on again for the flap length. Once that’s on track, I’m done – I just knit on up the leg until the yarn runs out. Often I’ll do a 4×4 rib on the top of the foot and around the leg, so there’s not even a question of when to begin the ribbing. The added stretchiness fine-tunes the fit, as well. I’m not entirely careless about the process, though. I do make a note of how many stitches I’ve got around the foot, so my second sock bears more than a passing resemblance to its mate. With brutally obvious dye repeats, I even go so far as to find the same starting point for the second sock. (Sometimes it actually works, too!)


2. I usually knit sweaters top down, in the round. As with socks, throwing 40 stitches on the needles for the neck and doing a few rounds lets me see if I like the fabric or not. The beauty of a top down sweater, for me, is that you’re making a giant spiral that has specific fit points: Does it fit the shoulders from the neck to the underarm? No? Knit a few more 1-increase/1-plain rounds. Have you spun off the first sleeve? Is it looking baggy? Throw in a few more decreases. Is it long enough? Go a bit further. Same with the other sleeve, and the same with the body. Want a little shaping? Decrease at the sides or evenly around the waist. Like a cropped look? You’re done. Pick a nice edging and cast off. This works for cardigans or even Fair Isle, if you keep the sides in plain stockinet.


3. Hats – top down, of course! A nice rib (plain, or mixed with whatever fancy stitch you like) stretches a ton and can accommodate most normally-sized heads.


4. Lace: Lace is a bit of a different story. I love knitting lace, but only for a few rows at a time in the quiet of an empty (or sleeping) household. I’m a pretty fickle knitter with several WIPs at a time, so a lace project always takes me forever to complete. Since in general I prefer interesting/variegated yarn knit in simple stitch patterns, lace for me is a real commitment. I don’t really swatch for lace, but I do spend some time thinking about needle size and yarn properties. I might try a row or two of the edging to see what I like. I usually make some type of lace scarf or stole as a thank-you gift for someone who has been exceptionally generous to our family. (I recently showed an elderly lady the lace scarf I was making for her, and apologized for it not being completed. Unfortunately, I had to stop where I was and scramble two days later to add the edging so the scarf could be part of the outfit for her funeral.)


What all this means, though, is that I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. There are many, many reasons to swatch (see the appropriate chapters of Stephanie’s books) and I respect the information that a swatch can represent. I’m just too impatient and self-confident to worry about it. (In case you were wondering? It’s a potentially catastrophic combination in certain situations.)

Since I’m a visual/spatial person, the idea of “doing it until it looks right” is my general method for creative activities like knitting, cooking, and decorating. Modifying the directions is a given, which means being prepared for the consequences. Sometimes making it up as I go along works…


…and sometimes it doesn’t. (I don’t usually take pictures of the bizzare meals I’ve occasionally served my family, so you’ll have to use your imagination.)

So don’t rush out and dump your swatches. I would hate to be responsible for any tears or cursing taking place beyond my own living room!

But here’s the thing. We’re all knitting on our own, but at the same time we’re all knitting together. Our online knitting community is so amazing – there are a million ways of doing things, and if we wish, we can see and discuss each one. But at the end of the day, I’m still alone in my living room, knitting without swatching. Nobody is doing it wrong. Nobody has to change. Nobody judges. And the most brilliant thing of all? When my husband asked me, “Are Stephanie and Rachel and Rams real friends, or internet friends?” I could answer truthfully,

“They’re REAL friends.”

192 thoughts on “Hiijacked

  1. I’ve never been much of a swatcher myself…glad to know I’m not alone in this! My general theory is: it’ll fit someone, right?

  2. Love your approach to swatching! A girl after my own heart. Nice socks, btw – I used that yarn for my first ones, but made them kiddy sized (less committment).

  3. I very. very rarely swatch – only if I am competely changing the yarn from given in the pattern, and modifying the pattern as well….for the reasons given – the stitches I get in a swatch rarely match with what I get when doing a large garment. Life is too short – I will happily (more or less) accept the occasional disaster.

  4. Here I thought I was doing something wrong when my swatches didn’t match up with what I was doing. Now I don’t feel so bad. . . LOL As long as it fits and looks good, right?

  5. You mean I’m not the only one? There are others out there whose existance validates my own?
    All these years, living in fear someone would learn my dirty little secret…the shame I felt every time someone (Stefanie) posted about her swatch and the horrible guilt I felt at my glimmers of happiness when the swatches lied to her…all that time and emotional energy was for naught?

  6. Ditto Ditto Ditto! I’m not as experienced as you…just now working on my first sweater(s) and I’m a devoted fan of the top-down sock — but it has to be mindless and it has to be entertaining (self-striping, etc.) or it’s not fun for me. I applaud your approach to knitting as I’m sure you wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to hijack Steph’s blog if you were wasting brain cells on WIP’s! 😉 Thanks for taking care of the girl!

  7. Bless your heart! There are many of us out there who do not swatch, have never swatched and probably never will.
    What is a swatch anyway?!

  8. Love this post! I sort of swatch—and always rip out the swatch, because I don’t want to waste any yarn! Also, I’ve been wondering why there seem to be so few toe-up sock patterns. My preference is toe-up—for all the reasons you mention—plus, I may want to knit out of both ends of the skein on two socks at once! (Don’t ask!)

  9. Thanks for letting us be the guinea pigs for your first blog post ever…dare I hope that you’d consider doing it regularly? And thanks for “outing” the joys of a non-swatching lifestyle. Yes, indeed, it’s good to know I’m not alone! (And this not-so-wee innnerets community has become quite dear to my own heart – and I know for sure I’m not alone there! Rock on, Knitters!)

  10. Nice post, Presbytera! I have a love/hate relationship with swatching. I’m impatient to start something and since I’m a slow knitter, even a swatch takes a long time. For sweaters, I’ll swatch, just to get an idea of gauge. Even if I don’t get gauge, I’ll do some quick calculations (and pray my math is correct) and decide if I can live with the results. If I can, I knit on. If not, I’ll change needle sizes and try again. The kicker there is that I often get the *same* gauge. Sigh…

  11. I have to say, I saw that part about “one extra-large Newfoundlander” and my first thought was, “When the hell did she get a dog?!” Which is what happens when you’ve worked a 15 hour shift at an animal emergency clinic.

  12. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! And I like the way you think. I have had more swatches that lie through their little knitterly teeth than I care to think about. Right now I have a portion of a to-be-felted bag that will probably be big enough for a laptop if I keep going, rather than the full size tote that was predicted (needless to say, I am going to stop and rethink that little puppy!.
    You forgot one piece of anti-swatch that applies mainly to lace – blocking! You can knit just a bit of it to decide if your yarn/needle choice is a good one, confident that if you have chosen a yarn that responds to blocking, you can still alter the size/shape of the piece at the end by quite a bit.
    Knit with abandon – one can (almost) always pull it out and start over!

  13. Cool! Thanks for the details of your swatchless life! Just for the record, I have yet to have a swatch work things out for me yet, either. Nice of you to help Stephanie. She really does do too much. But I know she loves it.

  14. That was the absolute best first “blog” post!
    I gave up on swatching for the same reasons a long time ago.
    Love your style of writing. Very nice! Thanks!

  15. Nice post, especially for a blog-free writer.
    I rarely swatch as well, and for the same reasons. Swatches lie. Sometimes I swatch for sweaters….we call those sleeves. You can always frog a sleeve in no time and it gives you something when you are done.

  16. Sometimes I’ll knit a sleeve first. If it works out after a few inches it’s a sleeve. If it’s not, I rip it and then it was a swatch.
    My hats are always short unless I make them top-down. How do people figure the fit bottom up?

  17. Nice job, Presbytera! Your first blog post was a good read. Are you succumbing to the temptation to become a blogger yourself? (I don’t often swatch either)

  18. A knitter after my own heart! A don’t swatch either and for the same reasons: swatches lie!
    I know I should not be laughing but I am–at the dead lady story. Sounds like something that would happen to me, that’s why I don’t knit for other people.)

  19. Usually when I swatch it is beacuse I want to see how the yarn will look in various stitch patterns rather than for counting and calculating purposes.
    Thanks for keeping us company while Steph works Presbytera!

  20. Recently for my first handspun sweater, I thought I ought to swatch and did. I was aiming for a loose 42 inch sweater and carefully used the right needles, swatched a fake “in the round” as advised then went ahead and knit and knit and knit almost to the armholes, complete with steek stitches. Yes, you guessed it. When I held up this monster to show someone (until then denial was in full force) I could see something was haywire….a tape measure showed it to be 54 inches. So you are right, to h*** with swatches. Had I just knit by guess I couldn’t have been any wronger. And it was lovely too.
    Dianna from SK

  21. I’m with you for the no swatching! …with one exception…the fair isle I’m designing that definitely looks different in yarn than it did on the graph paper…

  22. Wow!
    I’m intrigued by the idea of toe-up socks, but I haven’t been able to find a heel I like. You mention doing a heel “flap”, and from the pic, it looks like what I want.
    Could you point us to some directions, or give a general idea how it’s done? Is it pretty much the same as Stephanie’s heel flap, only upside-down? What about the gussets?

  23. lovely post, thank you! and my swatches are filthy little liars, so I tend to avoid them, too, whenever possible.

  24. “Don’t rush out and dump your swatches”?! I HAVE no swatches! Swatches always lied to me, too, so I threw the bums out! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one; now I can stop feeling that pang of guilt when I ignore that bit of the pattern that stridently orders me to check my gauge. 🙂

  25. Some of my blog-friends are my most treasured real-friends too. There is no material difference.
    I am also a non-swatcher and I find that some of the bizarre mistakes I’ve made trying to architect as I go have provided the best learning, too! There is a quotation from the Mahabarata that I will surely mangle, but it’s something like “The day I was born I made my first mistake, and that has been my path to enlightenment ever since”.

  26. Hey, Presbytera, thanks for helping out a friend. That was so sweet of you! (It’s kind of like being an honorary aunt — you can borrow the ‘child’ (the blog) for a day without the ongoing upkeep of feeding and caring for it!)
    I too figure, why swatch for a sock? As long as you do it toe up, and are willing to rip if it’s really off for some reason; because the swatch is as big as the toe at least, and you could be that much further on the sock. Top down raglan sweaters fit every shoulder width, so much more margin for variability in anatomy.
    But if I’m doing a significant lace or non-top-down sweater (yes, there’s a few I want to knit!) or a huge project, then I will swatch, because the thought of frogging thousands of stitches irritates me. My time is more valuable than that.
    Love your guest post! Come back any time!
    : )

  27. You Go Girl! Excellent first post, hurray for helping out The Harlot, hurray for no swatching, and hurray for REAL friends!
    Many years ago at my first knitting camp, a fellow knitter (old school) was horrified that I “dropped” the right-hand needle to facilate wrapping the yarn around the needle. All these years later, I still knit that way very happily and I don’t think my knitting has suffered. In fact, I am seeing more and more knitters do it just like me…
    Cheers, Barbie O.

  28. Ooh yay! I’ve always wanted a Presbytera blog! (Occasionally I hover over your insightful and witty comments, just to see if it’s changed from an email address to a website…) I’m a sometimes-swatcher, so it’s nice to know there are others out there who swatch even less than I do!
    Thanks Steph for letting Presbytera take over for a day! And good luck writing!!! =)

  29. Swatches we don’t need no stinkin swatches.. I don’t think I have ever done a swatch and I’ve been knitting for over 30 years. I just start knitting.. if it doesn’t work the way I want I frog it and make adjustments and start over. I’m usually too anxious to start my project to take the time to swatch. Great “guest” post.

  30. I do swatch, especially with unfamiliar yarn, which gives me at least a vague idea. I know that there’s no such state as perfection, and I’m prepared to rip if things go badly. I also usually use ribbing, especially in socks, which confers a certain amount of forgiveness.
    I’ve heard it said that pickers aren’t really knitters, and that crocheters have smaller brains. Me, I knit with both hands, and I love me a crocheted border, as well as my fellow fiberholics of all stripes, perfectly lined up or not.

  31. As a non-swatcher I REALLY could relate to this – our Guild just had a meeting where swatching was the topic and they insisted swatching is necessary – they said you could make an afghan when you have collected “enough” swatches. I say if the item doesn’t fit our family there’s a gift ready for someone else!

  32. ***hyperventilating*** Dear God, no swatching…I feel faint. I think I have the vapors…
    Ok, any students of mine should stop reading this comment RIGHT HERE. Read NO FURTHER.
    (in truth, most of my swatches are about 3″x2″. don’t tell, K?)

  33. Interesting!
    I apply the same idea to my spinning. Someone is always worrying about “wraps per inch”, yardage, weight of the yarn, etc., etc., etc.
    I spin the yarn however it wants to go then decide what to make with it. Yeah, sometimes I have to spin more to make it work, but would rather do that than worry about the details!

  34. You too, huh?
    I have written some patterns for knitting using any weight yarn with no swatching, and I plan to write some more for a book proposal (maybe eventually a book).
    Stephanie has two of those patterns, one for a wimple/hood and one for several styles of mitts. Ask her if you can look at them. I gave them to her in Virginia. If you need to jog her memory, I was the one with the blue coat I made for the knitting olympics.
    If I can get a publisher interested in them, I plan to write a book for people who don’t want to swatch, but can’t figure out how to get started.
    You might even get some ideas from me, if I can get it published.

  35. I love you!
    I also knit swatchless and without pattern, “by ear,” as I tell people. I knit until it looks right, and if it doesn’t look right at the end, I frog it and do it over. My mantrum is “Plain yarn, fancy stitch; fancy yarn, plain stitch” Since I have an unnatural attraction to fancy yarns, I knit miles and miles of garter and stockinette. I feel utterly lost and alone in a knitting community that worships designers and patterns, and most respects knitters who knit intricate patterns in the plainest of yarns.
    Hurray for us!

  36. Laura; I have a question that I have asked many
    knitters and they just look at me like I am nuts.
    When you have just one skein of yarn to make One
    pair of socks and you are knitting from the toe
    up how do you know when you have used 1/2 of the yarn? I don’t have an accurate scale available so
    I can’t wind off and weigh. HELP!!

  37. Good to see Stephanie’s friends helping her out.
    You know you’re gonna get about 100 requests for that lace pattern?

  38. Presbytera, great post. I’m sort of with you on swatching, and sort of not. It depends on what its for, and if I am following a pattern. I really do prefer simply knitting (or croc.. you know) until my peice matches their measurments and be darned the stitch counts. But then I’ve only done really simple things so far. My behaviour is going to kill me one day I am sure.
    Can you talk a little about the heel on your socks? It looks interesting and doesn’t look like the couple of heels I’ve come across. Is it by chance a regular heel only the turn happens at the back of the heel rather than the bottom. Could you possibly aim me in the right direction?

  39. And thanks for the sock tutorial. A skein of high-end sock yarn followed me home last week, and I didn’t know what to do with it.
    Now I have to deal with the little white dog that followed me home…

  40. yay! I swatch to see if I like the way the yarn knits up, but the measurements are NEVER right.

  41. I never swatch when I knit socks…even from top down. I just look at the yarn and guestimate what needles to use for the intended gauge.
    But I could never start a sweater with swatching…it’s like asking for bad knitting mojo.

  42. I don’t swatch either. I just dive right in and play with it as I go along.
    But are you suggesting that showing people knitting in progress will kill them? Because that would be an alarming side effect of the hobby.

  43. yeah! another fly by the seat of your pants knitter! thanks for validating my own style of knitting. The bag is really cute!

  44. Way to go. Hijacking of the finest order.
    So to echo the above sentiments – when do you get your own blog?

  45. Great hijack and proof that you too are a REAL friend. 🙂
    I’m not fond of the swatch. I get the concept… love that. But my gauge on the swatch never matches my gauge on the item… so ah… I’m starting to consider my “first start” of a project my swatch. It seems to tell the truth more often than a little square.

  46. Greetings from a fellow non-swatcher. I seem to nearly always get gauge by following the recommended needle size (and am too cheap to “waste” yarn) and the few times I didn’t, it became a gift. I rarely knit toe up or neck down but have been inspired to try both. Great post!

  47. Just yesterday DH told me that MIL is in hospice, so if I want her to wear that cashmere stole I’m making her, I’d better hurry. Alas, I’ll be lucky if I finish it by Christmas.

  48. Great post! Is this like a TV show where they introduce an new character so they can set up a spin off?
    A first post to spin off an official blog?

  49. Great post! And I’m glad you’ve got Stephanie’s back! She needs some breathing room.
    I don’t swatch either. Well, I might just to see what it looks like knitted up, but I can never get an accurate measurement. So, I fly by the seat of my pants most of the time. Not working? Rip!
    I do socks cuff down most of the time. I try it on as I go, or knit as far as I want to. I have never, ever swatched for a sock! I figure an inch or two is a swatch enough.
    It’s good to know that there are other people like me. 8^)

  50. Great post, our Harlot does have a lot of irons in the fire. I seldom swatch, just eyeballing it to see if it looks ok. ( for process knitting or stuff I make up on the needles-simple stuff ) If I’ve paid for the pattern then I’ll swatch, but only 4×2 or so. I figure the width is the killer, I can always adjust the length. By the way, the children are beautiful. Their sweaters are pretty cute too!

  51. Welcome! Terrific post! I’m so relieved to know that others don’t swatch either. After more than half a century of knitting, I have found that I’m pretty average in my tension. So I simply follow the recommendations for needle size… If I want a smaller size, I use the smaller sized needles…. I figure that whoever has produced that yarn knows it best and wants me to buy more of it, so they want me to be happy with the result. Swatches have no vested interest so they lie just to watch knitters squirm!
    And you have no blog of your own because….?

  52. Great beginning…excellent at capturing attention…yes, you too can become a blogger! Nice post.
    I don’t swatch. I resent the energy, time, emotion given to swatches. I know I am doing a fine dance with disaster some day, but I still won’t swatch. Nice to know there are others out there. Thanks.
    I love toe-up socks. The use of all the yarn is one reason, but to me, it seems logical. One pulls on socks from the toe up…it’s magical how the sock grows and appears on the needles. I found that knitting both at the same time on circulars is the way to go for me, though. Second sock syndrome is my enemy.

  53. I usually don’t swatch – I have found that swatches lie! I can be right on with my swatch, make the garment and it usually too big, I will measure a spot and it is usually right on gauge, yet the garment is still too big. I think it is the weight of the yarn! (my excuse) I just finished a zip front cardigan our of Blue Sky Organic cotton, swatched, right on gauge, finished cardigan, way too big, sewed seams in the sides and cut (1st time). At least it is wearable now!

  54. Excellent blog post! And although I officially endorse swatching when instructing a newbie, there are many situations where I do not swatch, expecially if I am familiar with the yarn’s properties. Knitting from the top down is great … a neck is a neck, and it also is a swatch … when the neck is done, you slip it on — or measure it, if it is intended as a gift — and if it isn’t right, it’s only a neck, and you just rip it out, like a swatch.
    And? Another vote here, for thinking the Newfie was a dog. My brain is always in the animal shelter. This is the same reason I collapsed into a chair at the hospital when the doctor told me that my husband, among other things, had drop foot (after a stroke). I just stared at the doctor, both hands over my mouth and wide-eyed in an OHMYGAWD expression …. and I said “Drop foot! Oh nooooo….”
    The doctor could not understand my abject despair for a moment, so he said, “It’s not that bad, we can work with drop foot…”
    …then he noticed at the animal shelter logo on my work shirt, and thank heavens he was a horse person … he said,
    “Mrs. Crawford, it’s okay, we don’t have to shoot your husband.”

  55. OMG. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I was the only one. Not 2 months ago, I bought larger yarn than was called for in a cute baby sweater thinking that if I swatched and did math all would be well. I swatched. I did math. I swatched again. I knitted the sleeves as a sort of living swatch and STILL couldn’t get the right combination of math and stitches and gauge to make the sweater come out right. Maybe top down is the only way.

  56. A girl after my own heart! I’m very instinctive knitter, too. I found it interesting that you described yourself as having good visual/spatial skills, because that’s my strength as well. I rarely swatch, and if I do, I just give the concept a slight nod by doing up a couple of rows that I can eyeball (and then use my instinct to make a determination). I rarely go down in flames, so that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
    “Internet friends” are the best! I have a group of very dear friends who I met via the Internet as new Moms, and 8+ years later, we’ve all met IRL and are as close as any group of friends could possibly be even though we’re spread out all over the country. Sometimes we struggle explaining the origins our friendship when people ask, though!

  57. Me too (no swatching except for lace and rarely then). Good to know I’m not alone in this!

  58. What a sweet thing of you, to hijack Steph’s blog for the day! Couldja tell me what shawl pattern that is? It is just lovely!

  59. Hurray! I just knew I wasn’t the only one to shun the “you must swatch!” rule! It never did me a lick of good, so I too chucked it out the window. And you’re not cheap because you don’t like to waste yarn, that’s called “frugal”. We spend so much time searching the shelves of our LYS to find just the right yarn, it feels like a criminal offence to waste even the little bit that it takes to make a swatch or two. If you’ve knit for a while (you know, 30 years or so), you can figure out fairly early on in a new project whether or not your gauge is on target or not.
    Terrific first go at blogging! Hope to hear from you again!

  60. Swatch or no swatch…I think that I have realized that often times knitting, like so many other areas of life is a gamble. Sometimes things work out great when we least expect them too, and other times, despite our best swatcherly effort, it does not. Hail, the Knitting Goddess of the Universe!

  61. Great post! I am intrigued by your toe-up socks with a heel flap. How are the gussets worked? Please explain on YOUR blog! 🙂 You’re a natural!!

  62. “…one extra-large Newfoundlander…” At first I thought that *was* the gansey! [g] (And you mean you’re not D.B. Cooper?) Hurray for hijacking blogs out of mercy – and first posts by rebels. I hate swatches. I don’t *quite* do swatches. If I’m doing a stitch pattern that’ll pull in a lot – like cables – well, I’ll knit a section just large enough to fit the cable and see more or less how wide the sucker will be. And if it’s a yarn I’ve never used, I knit a few inches to see what size needle gives me a fabric I like. But then I rip it all out to re-use. (I’m cheap too; or rather, have been too poor much of the time to waste a goodly portion of a ball of yarn on a swatch), and merrily go on my way. Swatches, pfui.
    Spin the same way too. My angle of *twist*? I dunno, the darned single plies back nicely on itself, who cares what the heck the angle of twist is? Get away from me with that protractor, I’m busy spinning!

  63. Great article! Great commonsense! I don’t swatch either. Only once have I ended up in a mess and had to re-work. I just consider my first few rows a swatch. 🙂 And great photos too. All for real friends. Lovely. 🙂

  64. I read “newfoundland” for “newfoundlander” and stared at my screen in shock thinking — Stephanie fit a dog into that household? *giggles*
    Wow — there’s a lot of us nonswatchers! I’ve never, ever been able to swatch on gauge – and I’ve never had the same stitch count from swatch to actual knitted article. I just go with it — fortunately, if the sweater is a bit big well, I never grew out of the baggie 80’s sweater look.
    By the way — “doing it till it looks and tastes right” is how my boyfriend is teaching me French cooking.

  65. i only swatch if i need to see
    the stich pattern before i begin
    simple patterns in great yarn works
    i use more then one size needle
    six knit seven for purl i knit
    loose and purl tight
    i enjoy the internet knitters and so
    so much fun and just plain comical
    thank you for this hijacking delightful
    you are homeland security approved

  66. OOOOOOh!
    So many non-swatchers. I am impressed, also glad to know I am in such good company. I am too much in a hurry to get on to what ever project I have in mind and I hate to “waste” yarn. I stick to small projects though. If I were to ever attempt anything other than a one piece garter stitch baby sweater….
    LOL at the big Newfie…

  67. Thank you for speaking out for us non-swatchers. I feel less compelled to hide behind the sofa when people start talking about their swatches.
    I tried swatching, but I just can’t do it. It somehow feels unnatural to me.

  68. What a terrific friend you are! And I really enjoyed your post. I have been swatching out of guilt, mainly, but as I almost always get stitch gauge and almost never get row gauge on the first or second try, and then I give up and start the project anyway, I can’t say I’ve been doing it “properly”. Now I feel liberated!
    Oh, and please pass this along to Stephanie at an opportune moment. Introductions are *supposed* to be written last. That’s really, 99.5% of the time, the best way. So don’t stress about that. (She’s got plenty to stress about already, doesn’t need to add imaginary things to stress about!)

  69. I’d rather have imaginary friends than no friends at all, but that’s just me. It was a lovely blog, you should join us in the blog-o-sphere.

  70. What a great post! I HATE swatching and try to avoid it if possible. I love the tips you’ve given today. Thanks!

  71. I’m an “in denial” swatcher, when I do swatch. I scrunch up or stretch the stitches to fit the specified gauge. My mom has knit for 60 years (since age 9) and she has never swatched. Not once. Her sweaters are famous for being enormous, and she always buys tons more yarn than the pattern calls for. She says she checks the gauge on the work in progress, so why waste time with a swatch? Well, like I said, her sweaters are enormous (beautiful, but enormous).

  72. No worries about blog hijacking here in Oregon! Especially with a great post like that! I’m glad there’s another rebel knittter out there like myself! Down with swatches!

  73. Wow, first to Mel… I thought that too, maybe she got a dog to catch the squirrel!
    Second to Mary about the toe up/one skein socks. I actually just did that! I knew that if I made anklets that I’d need about 200-220 yards total, and knitpicks sells this wonderful yarn called palatte, and it comes in 220 yard balls. I was knitting toe ups, because I just finally figured out how to do short row toes, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t go too far. So, I actually unwould the entire ball onto my bed, then found both ends, and holding them together, made a new pile with the yarn doubled until I got to the middle. Then, because I’m obsesively anal about these things, I tied a slip not in it, and did it again to make sure I was indeed at the middle. Then I rewound the 2 balls separately.
    Third…Wow P…great post. That part about the real friends made me a bit misty. Or it was my allergies.

  74. One more thing, P, about the top down hats…That’s genius! I love hats, mostly just do the cast on 100 and to K2 P2 for about 6 to 8 inches, then start decreasing. But wow. Why didn’t I think of that! You are amazing.

  75. Swatch? What’s that? I would rather spend my time frogging than swatching! Heck, I’ll go ahead and say it–I’d rather knit with acrylic. (Although, I have heard that the new Vanna’s Choice isn’t bad). It doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t swatch with that either.

  76. i never swatch.. never, ever. pfffft to swatching. sometimes after i’ve knit for a while i’ll measure to see if it seems ok. if not; see: increase/decrease part of post, or in the most serious cases: rethink receiver of sweater/socks, etc (ie: pick a bigger or smaller person)

  77. Dude. Dude, dude, dude. Do you know what you’ve done? You’ve gone and made me the only blog-free professional commenter in Stephanie’s regular stable who hasn’t helped her out with a guest post. I feel like a slacker now. A bad friend almost. (only almost, coz I did make sure there was a cold beer in her hand within moments of her arriving at Knit Night last week. I get points for that) But definitely a slacker.
    Fortunately, I can live with that. *grin*

  78. This is the 2nd time I’ve been on here and SHOULD be working, but what the heck! This is great blog and you did an excellent job! I haven’t knitted socks (yet), I”m very new and still learning to knit tops, but I want to start knitting socks. I went to the store and picked up a set of Size 3 dpns (that was the only size they had) to hopefully start teaching myself how to knit socks but all the patterns I’ve seen is only for size 2 needles. Will size 3 totally throw me off? Also, can I use lace weight yarn? Again, so totally new, but the yarn was gorgeous and couldn’t pass it up. Any advice is greatly appreciated. P.S. I swatch, but unravel becuase I HATE to waste yarn ;o)

  79. I also rarely swatch for the same reasons you describe. The last time I swatched it the sweater I made for my hubby would fit a woolly mammoth. When I just knit, it seems to work better for me. I never, ever swatch for socks. I figure what the use, except for the time I made a sock that would onlt fit some one with a AAA widthed foot. Anyway! I enjoyed your guest blog!! Thanks for helping out our Steph as she finishes her next book.

  80. Great first blog! You’re a good friend to bail Stephanie out. I’ve been wondering about the Gansey but decided to remain quiet until the book was done. 😉
    Hurrah for no swatches! The one time I carefully swatched and matched guage, I ended up with an awful sweater that was so tight I couldn’t even frog it.
    My “extra-large Newfoundlander” is currently downstairs holding down the tan carpet and leaving black and white fur all over it. One of these days, she’s going to give me enough fur for a lovely sweater. Stephanie wrote in her book about wanting to convince Joe a miniature sheep was a dog. I think she should just get a newfie and spin their lovely soft fur.

  81. Oh Raaa-ccchhh-elllll! Rachel HHHHHHHHHHHH!
    Your turn, dude. (Although the beer thing does buy you points…)
    I too, stand with the non-swatchers. I figure I can check things out as I go along and if it doesn’t seem to fit, rip it out and try again. That’s the time I would have spent swatching. If it does fit, then I’m ahead of the game.

  82. Repeat after me…There are no knitting police…there are no knitting police. If you prefer…There are no knitting po-leece…there are no knitting po-leece.
    Of course, the penalty for hijacking Steph’s blog may be sitting in a very noisy room being made to swatch…but since we are all grateful to you for helping her out, we are not going to tell anyone about this little maneuver of yours :>)!

  83. I also thought you meant Stephanie had acquired one of those very large black dogs. Phew! Just her husband. Enjoyed your blog. You should give it a try on your own.

  84. I hate swatching. I usually skip it too and figure if it doesn’t fit me, it’ll fit someone or I can rip it out and do it differently. I like destruction as much as construction.
    Although if I look at most of my projects, they are things I’ve made up so I don’t have to try to match someone else’s gauge.

  85. Nice to hear from you Presbytera (from a fellow blogless commenter who has been known to search for your name, among others, when the comments are simply too long to read them all). My critique of the hijacking:
    1. You have managed to effectively (and rightfully) praise our dear Harlot for her unfathomable (and highly caffienated) ability to do 327 things at once, while simultaneously getting that dig in about the gansey. Brilliant.
    2. There are pictures of socks. I like socks.
    3. If those are your children, they are angelic (at least until they turn into teenagers, as you have pointed out). Nice sweaters too.
    4. The whole swatch thing. I’m with ya. (Shhh. Don’t tell.)
    All in all, I say an A-. (There were no pictures of yarn, or links on where to buy it. Nobody’s perfect.)

  86. Oh, hi from Oregon! I try to be good, but I’ve only ever sort of knitted a swatch once – its sort of fun living dangerously, and besides, whatever I’m making will fit someone! Thanks for making me feel better about being a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl!

  87. I loved your post – great job. After reading the comments I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in the swatch dept. Although… I do sort of look over my shoulder for the swatch police when I start new projects.

  88. You are so totally real and refreshing . . . and guess what – don’t tell anyone – I have never once in my life done the recommended 4″ x 4″ swatch for anything. Never! It just doesn’t match my personality. And what you say about no swatch ever actually being true to the entire garment is not a myth . . . it’s strangely and troublingly true.
    I like to use Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-On to begin knitting a little 2″ or so wide swatch in the round. After only a few rounds you have a tidy little piece of knitted fabric that’s a darn good example of what it’s likely to look like when it gets a whole lot bigger (if you’re going to be knitting in the round, that is).
    I totally like your attitude, Presbytera – confident and leaping into whatever is enticing you, ignoring precision until you get to the spot where it is called for. You’re using the best knitting tool there is – your head.
    And you make a great blogger, too.

  89. I don’t swatch either.
    On lace, it doesn’t matter. For sweaters, I usually start with a sleeve and take a gauge when I get to a certain point. Or not. I’m a loose knitter, so I automatically go down at least one needle size and, with cottons, two sizes. Rarely fails me.
    For socks, I hurl myself into the abyss. As long as the foot is long enough, it’ll be fine!

  90. Your post was awesome! (And thanks for taking up some of the slack for poor Steph!) I also rarely swatch…I know my basic gauge for weight of yarn w/specific needle…and since I tend to make everything a teeny bit oversized…well, the system usually works. (For socks, my gauge on a 1 needle with fingering weight pretty much doesn’t vary…and, really, socks are made to stretch a little, right?)

  91. I’ve knit for over 40 years and I don’t swatch either. I’ve found that when doing sweaters I start with the sleeves. I check the gauge on them and if it is off a little I can do the body on one size larger or smaller needles and no one can see the difference. The body width is much more critical than sleeve width.

  92. Swatching is for sissies! Don’t be offended, I do actually swatch because I start with the sleeves first and then measure stitches over 10 cm. If the cuff is really too tight, I cut it off and make a bigger one. Too loose? A little elastic…
    I never ever swatch because it doesn’t work for me. I need way more knitting than that to get a hang of something. I once read that in the old days (whenever than was prior to 1964) the knitter would knit up a whole skein of yarn to swatch. I think it’s a myth from my grandmother.
    Socks I eyeball. They’ll fit someone. Same with mittens and hats.

  93. For the newbie knitter. I love the book Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. I knit the Allah socks on size 2 needles with sport weight yarn and about 80 stiches…well the dang thing wouldnt fit over my size 10 feet so I had to rip and try again with size threes. It worked beautifully. Good Luck. Which part of your foot are you supposed to measure for fit anyway?

  94. Yay! I very rarely swatch – the project is the swatch (and I always thought I was the only one)! I would rather frog (and have done numerous times) than swatch! I can always make my swatch do what I want it to … pull it, push it, make it work so why bother? My pleasure is in the knitting of the item not the swatching! To those of you who do it correctly and your sweaters match the patterns and fit perfectly, good on you. I never look like the model so I never know what I’m going to get. Part of the pleasure is the not knowing!

  95. I’m with you. Swatches are not for me. I have been knitting over 60 years and was never comfortable with those dang things! By the seat of my pants for sure. After a few rows I know whether I like the fabric, if it is going to fit, if it needs ripping. Sometimes, a fresh start is in the offing. Just part of the process. We renegades need not feel guilty–diferent strokes…..

  96. Here I was thinking that I wasn’t a Knitter (with a capital K) because I didn’t swatch. Thank you.

  97. Wow. What a GREAT first blog post! You go, lady!
    I have not been knitting for long and yet…’doing it until it looks right’ seems to be growing on me anyway.

  98. What a fine day to read a post such as this. A post that makes me feel as if I can creep out of my cave and finally tell the world the truth and not cringe. For I do not swatch and I fly in the face of fit. For all the same reasons listed in the post, toe up, neck down, and the all forgiving lace shawl.
    If I was not already married I think I’d propose!

  99. Just out of curiosity–is Presbytera your true title (or just a nickname)? You sound quite a bit hipper than the Presbyteras I’ve know in my day. I must admit I’m not much of a churchgoer–but having a cool knitting buddy there would be some darn good incentive!

  100. *blush* Thanks for all of your kind words!
    To answer a few questions:
    *A great sock pattern is LynnH’s First-Time Toe-Up Sock (colorjoy.com).
    *To do my heel, I knit the tube until it hits the front of the ankle, knit a flap to cover the bottom of the foot, turn the heel, pick up the stitches along the sides of the flap, and decrease to my original number of stitches.
    *The lace stole was simply pulled from a stitch dictionary — a main pattern with a matching edging.
    *I didn’t link to yarn or anything because I don’t know how!
    *Yes, I’m a “for real” Presbytera.
    *RachelH, rest assured that by providing our Harlot with beer, you do a vitally important job that none of the rest of us can do. Guest blogging is not nearly that crucial.

  101. What a lovely post! I swatch for the sake of swatching and then generally ignore it afterwards! I love the lace scarf! Where did you get the pattern?

  102. Oh, I like hearing about how you go through your knitting life mostly not swatching. I never swatch for socks, either. Or lace. 🙂

  103. Holy cow. I thought I was the only one who never “swatched”. Not only am I not alone, I seem to be in fabulous company.

  104. Yay! Great post! I am a new knitter and probably should watch first before giving it up…Laziness is my reason for not swatching. I love to just see what’ll happen…I do have some funny shaped hats…

  105. “The main reason I don’t swatch is because I have never, ever, had a swatch that told me the truth about what I was making, how the yarn would behave, or what size I would end up with.”
    I’m sorry. A properly executed swatch will ALWAYS tell you the truth about size, hand, drape and density. I’m sorry you’ve never learned to properly swatch but you do the newer knitting community a huge disservice by perpetuating the myth that swatching is a waste of time.
    I will be more than happy to send you directions on correct swatching if you wish. A well-executed gauge swatch, properly washed and blocked, is not only a wealth of knowledge but a reference for the future. I’m sorry you haven’t figured that out.

  106. I can take a deep breath and know that not swatching is OK! Usually the feel of the yarn and the type of fiber allude to the size of the needle or hook. Sleeves are also my swatch. Yea for Sweet P. What a great post. Thanks.

  107. Wait. A Newfounlander isn’t a dog? I totally missed that one. Sorry, Joe. But then again, as a fellow husband, I totally reject the “burden” characterization. Now the kids are a totally different story — burdens, each and every one of them.
    If we suggested to Stephanie that she get a dog, do you think we could make her head explode?

  108. Thank you, Presbytera, for being a good friend to us. Taking care of Stephanie is, in turn, taking care of us all. I come here for inspiration and you have stirred my brain admirably. That big Newfie (dog) caused me to stop, think, and re-read — always a good exercise and a great laugh at myself. That lovely lace scarf and the story behind it was, of course, a healthy laugh at you and your honesty. And the ideas: toe-up socks and top-down hats –we all read about it, but to feel your enthusiasm is refreshing.
    As to swatching for gauge, it didn’t take me long to discover the untruths in that exercise (i’ve only been a Knitter for a little more that a year). However, I continue to make my little samples to get a feel for the yarn, then attach the swatch to a photo of the finished project — a history of my “art” — to heck with counting stitches! Hurray for visual/spatial.
    To Dez: I will never hear the diagnosis of “drop foot” again without thinking of you! I’m sending that story around to my horse-friends.

  109. Brava. I detest swatching as I can always get the stitch gauge right after a try or two, but ROW gauge? The stitch count will be right on and yet I have 4/5 of the rows I should. So now I ignore it and measure.
    Great blogging effort. Maybe Steph needs to have a Guest Blogger section for her posse.

  110. Hi Presbetaria (sp) = very nice entry! good reading, cute kids in sweaters, lace…what more? It’s great that the YH has such wonderful, talented friends to help out. Thanks!

  111. I forgot to mention…I don’t usually swatch either, but I sometimes regret it. I feel that my sweaters have to be the exact right measurement, because I have a weird build and I’m picky, so I should swatch…but I usually wait until I’ve knit 6″ of the back, then do the measurement, then do some more and check again, and usually it’s either too big or too small and I regret that I didn’t just swatch in the first place! Then I start trying to figure out how to save the thing without ripping it all out…It doesn’t always happen, just once in a while. Enough that I don’t bother to do it. I like the logic of the top-down sweater. I’ve come up with another trick (sort of, still working on it, maybe you have some advice?) of picking up the sleeves at the shoulder seam and knitting down, rather than knitting them separately and sewing them on. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes. Thanks again for filling in!

  112. Thank you for your admission that you don’t swatch. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It’s only knitting. By the way, I believe Nancy should take a nap or enjoy a glass of beer or a nice cup of tea. I’m sorry she hasn’t learned the value of non-judgment around questions of other people’s personal preferences. Yeesh.
    Presbytera, how do you pronounce your name? Pres BIT era? Presbit EAR a? PresbitterAH? I’m stumped.

  113. Presbytera – I am loving it. Great guest blogging! I am also loving the hat from the top down since my head is bigger than I think it is, and my very bald father’s appears to be smaller than I think it is. We have issues with the hats. Oddly enough all the others I knit fit fine. And our dear Harlotta has said it herself…in print…more than once – SWATCHES LIE. This is my personal issue with them. I swatch myself silly for a hat when I could have been done with the hat!!
    Also, my knitters far and wide, Cafe Du Monde ships. I made beginets (sp?) from their mix and their chicory coffee and we were some happy people on Sunday morning.

  114. Great post! Although you don’t admit how good you are. I wasn’t really a swatcher, until too many things didn’t come out well because of gauge issues. Then I started swatching — and for real, washing, et. al — and things still didn’t come out right because of gauge, although now I stopped well before completion. My final solution? Currenlty, I’m knitting miter squares.

  115. P.S. I’m kinda with Frog on the Nancy thing. It is a swatch, not an act of congress or parliament. It is yarn. Swatching does have it’s place, but is not always necessary. Also, you CAN rip it out and do it over…as we ALL know!!

  116. “knit until it looks right.”
    Ha! Finally, someone who speaks my language! That’s the way I knit, cook and do just about everything. Drives my friends crazy.
    Reminds me of the old Native American canoe carver who was reknowned for his craftsmanship and artistry. When he was interviewed by a news crew about his technique he answered very thoughtfully, “Well, when I begin I say a prayer to our Ancestors to guide me in the making of this canoe. I look at the wood, I turn it around and around and study it. I run my hands over it to understand the spirit of the wood. Then I cut away all the parts that aren’t a canoe.”

  117. Thanks for the idea about knitting socks and hats toe-up! I can’t believe I never about it before. They’re my favorite things to knit, but I too have an aversion to swatching. I too tend to view patterns as suggestions – they’re not actually meant to be followed (the same goes for recipes).

  118. From one “non-swatcher” to another…hear hear! You are certainly preaching to the converted here. Swatches LIE – my projects rarely turn out as expected based upon the parameters of the swatch. Thanks for the KUDOS!

  119. Great first blog! I agree, Steph should have a “stable” of guest bloggers to help with the pace and the standard she has set, it’s more than one person can expect to do, keeping all the balls in the air.
    And the squirrel – I vote for a guest blog from “Da Skirrel”. We want the squirrel, we want the squirrel….

  120. Thanks for the sock tips! I love the idea of toe-up socks, and I already have a pair on the needles to try your method.
    As for swatching, I don’t usually do it either. With sweaters, I’ll start the sleeve, since it’s swatch-like (I tell myself that). If it doesn’t work out, then it’s easy enough to rip back out.

  121. I bow before your courage to announce to the world that you don’t swatch. My swatches are always a disaster. Once I get into the project I measure and adjust…and I also almost always work top down sweaters because I’m almost always knitting for little ones.
    Hurray for you…great blog…you should do this more often.

  122. Great post. Thanks for taking over for her for a while. And while you’re at it, book her that flight to Aruba, OK?

  123. I just got back from a prayer shawl ministry meeting at our church and while there I was assuring a new knitter that there are no knitting police. It’s been a lot of fun reading all the comments affirming this statement! I am starting a baby cardigan and have been dutifully swatching, all the while hearing Stephanie’s voice saying what filthy little liars swatches are. I think I’m going to frog the swatch and go for broke. By the way, Presbytera, great post! You should definitely do this more often.

  124. I had to laugh. I did my very first swatch last night. I even woke up my husband to tell him i had the perfect swatch!! Not very impressed, but oh well. I am making the duster/sweater on the cover of InterWeave Knits. Wish me luck – it’ll be my first!!

  125. I too loathe swatching. Sometimes I knit Granny’s Favourite Square — you know, the self-sizlng one knit on the bias — if I can’t wait to start the project. But mostly I wing it.
    Great post Presbytera!

  126. Nancy.. I believe that she said “don’t go throw out your swatches”… it was her own opinion. My own opinion… is that a swatch won’t tell you if your pattern sucks. You can have the most perfectly-perfect swatch.. and if your pattern sucks… it won’t do you a damned bit of good. (yes, I have had issues with sucky patterns)
    Oh, and I don’t bother to swatch anymore either. *shrugs*

  127. Presbytera, you blog like a pro! I hope to see your own blog in the near future. Good practice getting you started;-)
    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful kids and beautiful works.
    I, too, have never met a swatch I liked – always lying, misguiding and misleading. The theory is interesting, but the reality is that they complicate your project with all the misinformation and take valuable time from getting on with it.
    I love toe-up socks, because I can’t stand those leftover bits of yarn! I prefer short-row toes and heels. I do two at once, because of my dreadful second sock syndrome affliction.
    Connie would say “hi” if she knew I was commenting.

  128. Thank you for giving Stephanie the break that she badly needs! And thank you for sharing your wonderful outlook on swatching. Yeay – we’re not alone in this world! 😉

  129. I usually knit a swatch out of guilt just to make sure my gauge is in the ballpark. I never know how to measure one properly – do you cast off the swatch before measuring? Do you smooth it out and stretch it a bit before measuring? I was making a hat according to Stephanie’s directions and my swatch lied about how many stitches to the inch I was getting. Knitting a bit of the hat and trying it on my head was the only way to get the correct number of stitches. Swatches – ha!

  130. Ohmygawsh… those are the socks I taught you at Rae’s. My pattern (with tall cuffs). Faint… now what do I owe you?
    I call this “Folk Knitting.” You go as you go and you adjust.
    You do think ahead of time about the yarn and what needles might best be used. You have a decent idea of how to get a fabric that would work well for the task at hand. Usually it works great. When it doesn’t, rip and start over. That does not happen very often.
    I do swatch when I’m doing things I have not done much of, or with a yarn I totally do not know. I start with a guess and go from there. If it’s not too many stitches I dive in, and I’m all about top down hats and toe up socks, and other things that can be done with logic and a bit of experience.
    Congrats on an excellent first blog post. Of course, we are not surprised!

  131. I am a sometime swatcher – when I have measurements and am trying to get them, but my swatches do lie!!! How do I handle that? The garment always comes out too large, which has me frogging a couple inches less than it should actually measure. What happens? and how do we fix it?? Just guesswork? I’m starting a man’s sweater and just don’t know how to get it right the first time. Any help would be appreciated,from all Steph’s really great friends!
    This was really a helpful blog today. Thanks!

  132. I’ve always wanted a Newfoundland. Now my husband says he doesn’t want me to have one. Probably doesn’t want me to have a Newfoundlander either.

  133. Presbytera, I’m so happy to hear someone else own up to not swatching. The toe up sock is my favorite but I always do the short row heel. No flaps for me, they drive me nuts. Nice to hear from you!

  134. I don’t like to swatch, swore it off as a matter of fact. Guess I’m not the rebel I thought I was after reading your blog entry. We swatch-free are many….(Humming “Born to be Wild” as she posts)

  135. Happy Belated Anniversary Stephanie and Joe! Hope you got time away to celebrate.
    I drove 12 hours down to Rossland, BC from Prince George and back to spend the weekend in an exotic fibres workshop with The Fabulous Judith M. A great time was had by all and as always was an incredible learning experience. Too bad you couldn’t have been there Steph. Good luck ‘binding off’ your book ends! I’m looking forward to reading it.
    P.S. You should bring your beautiful wedding shawl to SOAR to show Judith, she was wondering if you ever finished it! 🙂

  136. All of you non-swatchers have restored my faith in humanity. I thought I was out here all alone…

  137. if one is knitting a mans garment
    then you knit it then go off and find
    a man that it will fit it gets one
    out of the house-they come in all sizes

  138. Thank you, Presbyters. I also do not make swatches. I feel it is a waste of good yarn and I will admit that I am to lazy to make one. So far I have not had any problems. Like you say if it’s to big here decrease more and so on. It works for me.
    Thank you also for helping Stephanie get through this whole end of the book thing. YOU are a GOOD Friend. She makes my head spin sometimes. But I so enjoy her blogs. Reading her blog is like reading the morning paper while I drink my coffee.

  139. Bravo! I don’t swatch for the same reasons as you. I forge on ahead; the end product will always fit someone I know, maybe not the intended person, but someone.

  140. Yes, yes, yes! It’s not just me! I have just never managed to get anything sensible from knitting a swatch, so I gave up at a very early age. Most things turn out OK. Thank you!

  141. Great first blog! Come back again anytime. You mean I should really stop making swatches that don’t help. Ohhh… a bold move. I think I need lean back in my chair for a few minutes.

  142. Non-swatchers UNITE! Swatches? We don’t need no stinkin’ swatches ;).
    I think we non-swatchers should band together. I wish I knew how to make those “buttons” that people put on their blog sites, because I would proudly display one!
    I have the funny feeling that I have just jinxed my next project…

  143. I think you really need your own blog… You are a good writer and picture taker and you really did put a link to yarn (colorjoy.com). Colorjoy should thank you; I already ordered two sock patterns from her!
    No swatching for me either.
    And thank for giving dear Stephanie a break. This online knitting community is awesome. We learn from and support each other all the time. Thanks so much for your contribution!

  144. To: Nat Alea, who asked about sock stuff.
    I’ve just started sock 2 of my second pair of socks. (We Do Not Speak Of The First Pair.) I’m using Charlene Schurch’s book Sensational Knitted Socks, which I’m finding quite useful- she offers charts to help adjust sock size for gauge and weight of yarn, and some clear descriptions of the process. The one thing it doesn’t have (that I’ve found) is a toe-up sock pattern- I believe there’s on in her second book.
    I love Presbytera’s description of how to do the toe-up sock (my first encounter with kitchener stitch was…protracted…though ultimately triumphant).

  145. Thank you so much for admitting that you don’t swatch. I have never done a swatch either. If something turns out, fine. If it doesn’t, then it’s a gift or a donation. At this point if a hat is too small or too large, I don’t really care. I can always make another one. Now I guess I would feel differently if I spent $200 on yarn for a sweater. But for now there has been no swatching. I know the odds will not be in my favor one of these days and I am willing to take that chance! Can there be a button for “Risk Takers-the Non-Swatching Group”? lol! Everyone else seems to have a button for their cause, why not us???

  146. Love this post…great job! What wonderful idea for ways to avoid swatching, and I love the tips for top up socks. I’ve always wanted to try a pair, and now I just may! Thanks.

  147. Hooray for guest blogging rescue missions. Only real friends would take the time to write such wonderful posts. Thanks for stepping in while our Harlot was out!

  148. Wonderful first blog! I don’t swatch either, but I also rarely knit from patterns. The few I have used frustrated me to no end at all when as a beginning knitter I discovered errors all too late. I consider patterns as guidelines or suggestions now only and knit, as you described it so well, until it looks right. And like you, this spills over into all areas of my life: painting, sculpting, cooking, and don’t laugh, cleaning. As for sweaters, I knit from the top down and just make it work.
    Thanks for filling in for Stephanie. You did fabulously!

  149. Hey – thanks for helping Stephanie out! And, gee, what a good writer you are! I always enjoy your comments too. I am an intermittent swatcher, I do learn things from it. I also start up the pattern a bit and then switch needles if the fabric is turns out floppy or stitches too squished. The children’s photo is a classic (little sweaters too)!

  150. Great blog, Presbytera! You should seriously rethink having your own blog, you know, “if you build it they will come”… If you blog, we will read (and comment)!
    I’m a half-hearted swatcher. I’ll usually knit a small swatch but find it difficult to get both stitch & row gauge, so I’ll go with stitch gauge. I’ve never washed & blocked a swatch, though, & often rip out the swatch so I can reuse the yarn (especially for limited quantity yarn like for socks).
    For Nat Alea & for Robin (10/02, 10:19am) – Charlene Schurch’s 1st book does have some toe-up socks, I think in the section of 5-stitch repeat patterns. There are quite afew patterns & good info online. I’ve found alot of helpful info at http://www.knitty.com and at http://www.wendyknits.net. Haven’t attempted toe-ups myself, yet, but will before too long.

  151. Hi all. Long time lurker, first time commentor. Thanks for the post. None of my swatches ever seem to work out, they’re always too loose, it seems. This was great and I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one with swatching issues.

  152. I have never swatched, and I don’t block much either (gasp), especially socks. I may wash ’em before I wear them, I may not. What better blocker than a warm foot?

  153. Thanks, Susan L! (10/2 12:05 PM) I’ll definitely look at that and the websites. I figured I’d have to it both ways anyway, so see how I liked them.

  154. It’s nice to meet a kindred soul – my philosophy on knitting (or crocheting) is “wing-it”.. My sweet hubby interprets this as “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.. {g}

  155. Very refreshing outlook on swatching, ’cause we all know that “swatches LIE!!!!!”. Thanks for filling in and hope to hear from you again!

  156. As far as I can tell, all knitting is an act of faith in the results. To swatch or not to swatch…the fun is in the finished product. Whatever that may turn out to be! (PS – At first glance, I thought you’d cleverly constructed a hot pink bikini top with a nifty, variegated chest cover between the cups. Rock on!!)

  157. I don’t like swatches. I’ll do swatches on my own hand-dyed so I can get a general idea of where the colors fall in my tension/gauge. Other than that…bah!
    I like being creative [with a tad of knitter’s denial!], and going with the flow as I knit really makes me happy. I’m glad I’m not alone.
    [I LOVE your sock idea, though! perfect!]

  158. I don’t swatch either – though your methods also sound like work….especially the sweater one…I seem to prefer muddling through and then just seeing if they fit me – or anyone.
    Thanks for the guest blog!

  159. I don’t swatch either! But then I also don’t knit. I naalbind, crotchet, spin and sometimes weave.
    I also don’t follow a pattern when I naalbind. I’ve always been amused by the idea, but I don’t do it. This is my range of stitches and each one does this sort of thing and if I put it together this way, I get this. You know, the good old fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants approach.
    I also do socks toe-up.
    Nice guest blog – if you ever got one of your own, I’d follow it. 🙂

  160. Your post is so fun—and such a relief to see in print. I’ll bet you didn’t know your post alone might free swatch-enslaved knitters everywhere! LOL!
    I’ve been threatened by many with the “must swatch” warning for most of my few years of knitting. Mostly, I nod and agree politely—and then do whatever the hell I want! I found the few “official” swatches I have done led to nowhere but wasted time I could have used knitting on my actual project! And they are the BIGGEST liars! When I change needles, the gauge barely changes at all!
    So for all intents and purposes, I’ve basically abandoned them in favor of using the first X number of rows of the actual project as my swatch! Works for me, and if I like it, I keep going. Granted, I don’t make a lot of sweaters. But on a smaller scale, swatchless seems to have worked most of the time—probably no worse a result than I would have had by swatching! 🙂

  161. Thanks for the affirmations. I never swatched since all I ever knit were throws, purses, scarves and Christmas stockings, and they don’t have to “fit”. When I attempted my first sweater a few years ago, I knit a swatch so there wouldn’t be any surprises. When I checked the instructions, it listed the stitches per row for a k5 p2 rib and then said (stretched). What??
    So I am leery of swatching, too.

  162. How wonderful for the YH to have a friend like you. Thank you for stepping in and filling the gap. And gread work with the entry. i really enjoyed it. Best, Lizbeth (Seattle)

  163. Tell it sister!! I’m with you completely on the no swatching thing. I figure, even if it doesn’t fit it’s intended person. . . . somebody out there can use whatever I cook up (ducking and running from knitting kharma). Also, it’s quite cool to have internet friends. I like to think of them as my “grown up pen pals” Great post!!!

  164. Lovely!! Glad to hear I’m not the only fickle swatcher – sometimes you just want to get right to the projects….

  165. I’m a fairly new knitter (4 months and counting) and have had the fear of bod put into me by all the books demanding that I swatch for absolutely everything. It is intimidating enough starting your first ever sock/sweater/hat or whatever, without having to do lots of calculations and manipulations with a swatch.
    This has put me off a project more than once because I didn’t have exactly the same yarn as the pattern (a regular occurence in the UK as so many patterns are from America) and wasn’t brave enough to work out the gauge differences.
    But now I will run free of the shackles of gauge swatches, and make all sorts of random stuff! Fingers crossed!

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