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4 steps to knitting a SIMPLE and PERFECT gauge swatch (free pattern)

by Fiona Stevenson

It’s day two of our Cute as a Button Cardi knit along using Uptown Worsted Hues from Universal Yarn. To get us started, yesterday, I shared 7 secrets to choosing the perfect yarn for a knitting project. Later in the week, I’ll share my secrets to making perfect lace, keeping your tension even throughout your knitting, and finishing off this sweet cardigan with a special detail edging that’s not in the original pattern. But today, I’m sharing a simple pattern for making an accurate swatch to make sure you knit the right sized cardigan for that special little one in your life.

The lace-trimmed Cute as a Button Cardi is almost finished being knit with a circular knitting needle still on the half worked second sleeve. None of the ends are sewn in. The yarn is pink, white, light blue, and sand-colored. The sweater is laid out on a rich blue velvet cushion with a skein of Uptown Worsted Hues yarn lying beside it; Universal Yarn

Knit the Cute as a Button Cardi to fit with Uptown Worsted Hues yarn and a simple, accurate gauge swatch.

Why swatch at all?

I’m not gonna go into a long rant on why gauge swatching is important, because I think I may do that every time I write a piece for KNITmuch. I’m just going to say that if you want this sweater, or any sweater, to fit as you intend, you must get the gauge recommended in the pattern. The needle size in the pattern information is helpful, and the gauge measurements are essential. You can change your needle size to get the right gauge, but never assume that the recommended needle size will magically achieve gauge. I know doing a swatch is like having to eat your vegetables before you get your dessert, but it’s the only way to ensure a healthy stress-free knitting lifestyle with well-fitted sweaters to bring you joy.

Knitting a simple perfect gauge swatch

Now that I’ve explained why they’re important, let me share with you the secrets to a simple and accurate gauge swatch.

  1. Use the pattern below to make sure the edges of the swatch are flat and even.
  2. Block your swatch before measuring.
  3. Measure your gauge swatch properly. wikiHow has great instructions on how to check the gauge.
  4. If you have too many stitches, go up a needle size and swatch again.
  5. If you have too few stitches, go down a needle size and, you guessed it, swatch again.

A close-up of a 4” by 4” knit square swatch using white, pink, sky blue, and sand colored variegated yarn; Uptown Worsted Hues, Universal Yarn

Use my simple and effective swatch pattern to get the right gauge for your knitting!

The Cute as a Button Cardi swatch pattern

Cast on 27 stitches.

Knit 4 rows.

Row 1: (Wrong side) Knit 3, Purl 21, Knit 3.

Row 2: (Right side) Knit 27.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 twelve MORE times for a total of 26 rows.

Next row: Knit 3, Purl 21, Knit 3.

Knit 4 rows.

Bind off all sts.

Before you measure, block your swatch. Using a bit of wool wash soap, immerse your swatch in a bowl of cool water until the fibers are saturated. Gently press out the excess water, but don’t wring it. Roll the swatch in a towel to make it even drier, so it’ll dry faster. On a blocking mat, pin down the swatch stretching it out so the stockinette stitch section measures 4” x 4”. When it’s dry, you can measure your gauge swatch.

Now you’re ready to cast on!

 You’ve got the right gauge, and you can be sure the cardigan will fit right. It’s time to cast on and knit the lace yoke.

A partially knit Cute as a Button Cardi in pink, white, sky blue, and sand variegated sits on a wooden table with a mug and plant in the background; Uptown Worsted Hues, Universal Yarn

It’s time to learn how to knit up this lace quick and easy!

Come back tomorrow to get your lace on the right track, and make knitting it a breeze especially with using Uptown Worsted Hues from Universal Yarn. Once you figure out the lace pattern, you’ll want a bit of advice on keeping your tension even over the rest of the project. I’ll get into that on Thursday. And you definitely want to drop in on Friday to learn the sweet little finishing touches, not in the pattern, I used on my Cute as a Button Cardi. There’s a photo tutorial and everything!

See you soon!

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: 7 secrets to choosing the right yarn for your knitting project

Go to part 3: Lace knitting – Why [and how] it’s easier than you think


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