Swatching 101

swatching basics, troubleshooting & FAQ
How to knit a swatch - swatching knitting tutorial

Knitting a swatch and measuring your gauge is an important process at the start of a new knitting project. This 4-part video series explains everything you need to know about swatching, including demonstrating how to knit a swatch flat and in the round.

1. Why bother knitting a swatch?

This video introduces the basics of knitted and crochet swatches, and explains a lot of fundamental terms for this surprisingly-controversial activity! The video covers:

  • What a swatch is
  • How knitted & crochet swatches are different from other crafts
  • What tension means in knitting & crochet
  • What gauge means
  • How large to knit a swatch
  • How to measure a swatch
  • Why swatching isn’t a waste of time or yarn!
  • When you can avoid knitting swatches



2. How To Knit a Swatch

This video tutorial demonstrates how to knit a basic stocking stitch swatch for beginner knitters. It provides lots of tips & advice about techniques, tools, tension and gauge. The video covers:

  • How many stitches to cast on
  • How to knit borders so your stocking stitch stays flat
  • How to record your needle size
  • Analysing your knitted fabric for its characteristics
  • How to measure the swatch
  • Why & how to block your swatches
  • Comparing tension before & after blocking
  • Some options for adjusting tension (more will be covered in Video 4, see below)



3. How to Swatch In The Round

This video tutorial shows the method I use to swatch in the round. It’s an easy technique with emphasis on speed. My method also doesn’t require cutting the yarn, so you can unravel the swatch later on if you run out! The video covers:

  • The properties of knitted fabric in the round
  • The construction of a swatch in the round
  • Full demonstration of knitting a swatch in the round
  • How to create garter stitch borders in the round
  • How to record your needle size
  • Extra tips for successful swatches
  • Measuring the swatch
  • Comparing tension to the previous swatch knitted flat



4. When Swatches Lie! Troubleshooting Tension & Gauge Issues

Sometimes you swatch, and it still doesn’t work out! Do swatches lie? Do they grow? This video tutorial answers questions about problems and issues with swatches, tension and gauge, illustrated with my own knitting projects and experience. The video covers:

  • What to do when you don’t get the right gauge for your knitting (or crochet) pattern
  • Dealing with stranded colourwork tension issues
  • When you need to recalculate the pattern mathematics
  • All bodies are beautiful
  • What to do if your gauge gets bigger/smaller after swatching
  • Why you need to block your swatches
  • What are ‘growing’ and ‘shrinking’ yarns and/or fibres




I hope that you’ve found these videos helpful. If you wish to leave a comment, click through to watch the individual videos on YouTube.

This tutorial is unsponsored. Yarn support was generously provided by West Yorkshire Spinners.

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