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Swatch out! When, in knitting, is it okay to skip the swatch?

by Fiona Stevenson

Yesterday I shared my excitement over using the delightful thick and thin texture of Bamboo Bloom Handpaint to make the simple Faroese Style Shawl something extraordinary. Have you decided to follow me down the rabbit hole into a knitting Wonderland where the rules are upside down?

Welcome, my little Alices and Mad Knitters, join me as we break the rules, and dive into the deliciously dangerous world of rebel knitting.

Universal Yarn Bamboo Bloom Handpaint

You must always, always, always knit a swatch…or not.

If you have been knitting for even a little while, you have been told that you must always gauge swatch before you start your project. Always! I’ve been knitting for fifteen years, and I tell you it’s true. You must use a gauge swatch if want your project to match the dimensions of the pattern. If you’re an absolute newbie knitter and don’t know what a gauge swatch is, click this link to learn about them: How to Knit a Gauge Swatch. Before you throw out the rules, you need to know them.

For those of us who are familiar with the tedious task of swatching, I tell you today we shall break the chains of gauge, and liberate ourselves. There are times when knitting a swatch is not necessary. Yup, it’s true! When you’re knitting items that aren’t fitted to your body, you can just take a deep breath, grab the recommended needle size, and dive into the cast on. Here’s the list of projects that I’ll go into swatchless:

  • shawls
  • scarves
  • blankets
  • face/dish cloths
  • towels
  • stuffed animals

So for this week’s project, the Faroese Style Shawl, I went rogue. I knew that gauging the thick and thin Bamboo Bloom would be a waste of time and yarn since the shawl dimensions didn’t need to be exact. Instead, I gleefully grabbed 8mm needles and cast on swatchlessly. And it worked out beautifully! The tension of the yarn is perfect, and the final dimensions of the shawl came out great.

Turning the rules of knitting upside down to make an extraordinary shawl.

Now, don’t be shy, grab your Bamboo Bloom Handpaint yarn and needles then, without thought for gauge, cast on your shawl with abandon.

My Faroese Style Shawl in all its gaugeless glory.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back in time (I can even break the rules of linear progression) to before the devilishly unswatched cast on, and tell you how to scrap the designer’s recommendations for whatever the heck kinda yarn you want!

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: When knitters go wild: how to use unconventional yarn to your advantage

Go to part 3: How to successfully substitute yarn for a knitted pattern

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