This month I read in two knitting technique books that one should let a knitted gauge/tension swatch "rest" for 24 hours before measuring.

I'm wondering: does anyone do this? I'm always so keen to start working with the new wool that I just jump right in.

I'd fancy knowing your thoughts on this.



In a word:


   आदि लक्ष्मी 

~Der Gefährliche Schal-Stricker

Yahoo Id: stickywarp2001

But, if it's a garment being made with a fibre/yarn that I have zip experience with, I *DO* wash it, dress it (if I'm going to block the finished product)to check gauge and size, etc.


OKknitguy's picture

I've never waited. I don't think I could.

MMario's picture

what's a swatch? *grin*

[Note- I rarely knit ANYTHING that requires true guage -- and those few things I do I use yarns I am very familiar swatching for me is not something I do...but that doesn't mean it isn't important with new yarns or stuff that MUST be to guage]

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Aaronknits's picture

I was thinking the same thing. I've done several hat and pairs of mittens and gloves that probably could require a swatch. I matched the yarn weight, yardage, WPI, etc as best as I could so I just went with it. But with something that samll, any size difference that results would probably be negligible. If I'm going to do a sweater, I may do a guage swatch, though I didn't for either of the two that I have in progress right now. I just matched the same yarn criteria as best as I could and went with the recommended needle size. On the first one, I guess I just lucked out. On the second, well, I'm not that far into it so we'll just have to see. But it looks okay so far.

Hi Jesse. I have but life's too short for swatches. Try tumbling it for a couple of minutes.

grandcarriage's picture

It depends on the fiber: Superwash: Wash and dry several swatches with different size needles at once (mark them so you know which is which). Machine washable... Just Steam with an iron or steamer, and allow to dry for an hour or two. Ditto for most animal fibers.

Vegetable fibers: Follow washing instructions on the swatch and test afterwards: Vegetable fibers have far less leeway than most animal fibers. I've had too many cotton or linen sweaters that I've had to tailor on a sewing machine afterwards. (Not that it's a bad thing...)


I'm not a Canadian, but I play on one in my dreams."

grandcarriage's picture

Addenedum: As mentioned previously: If you're knitting something where gauge doesn't really matter: Scarf, hat, purse, knit the test swatch see if it works, and then run with it.... My rules are more for sweaters and larger garments that require a lot of fit, knitting, and hours and hours of work.

kylewilliam's picture

I do a swatch on bigger projects (sweaters, etc.) that need to be fit - and even a gauge swatch sometimes for scarves and blankets - so I can figure out how big I want to make the piece. Once I have figured it out, traditionally I rip out that swatch and start my piece - I have been thinking, however, that it might be neat to start to save those swatches (actually bind them off and keep them) - as a small record of what I have made, but more than that; for a possible project down the road of a blanket or something using hundreds of small pieces all put together - I'm always trying to think of the future - and doing something like that might be cool - maybe even referencing crazy quilts or some of the piece knitting books that I have seen - who knows what the future holds...

for now, though (including the 2 things I started this past week) I have done a gauge, ripped, then started my project -



Tallguy's picture

OH, yes, definitely!! You should always do a swatch that is large enough, usually in the pattern you are using, and finish it as you will the final item. Which means, washing/steaming or whatever. There are some yarns that will change DRAMATICALLY when washed, and your items will be washed eventually.

You will always measure gauge over the finished item. If it is for socks or a hat, which needs to be stretched slightly, then do that. When laid flat, socks are usually quite small; on the foot, it will be quite a bit larger.

If you are using several balls of yarn in the item, I would keep the swatch until the end, then rip it out if needed to finish. It will be a record of the gauge, of the pattern, and how to finish it. If you don't require it, keep that patch and put it into your record book, or make them all up into a keep-sake afghan with all your favourite finished items.

Kerry's picture

I'm so keen to start a new knitting project that I don't do swatches. Mind you, there have been some less than perfect garments ;-)

JPaul's picture

I've never heard that before! What books did you read this in, Jesse?

I do knit swatches, but I've never waited to measure a swatch. Not sure what the benefit would be.
I can understand blocking or steaming if that's how you will treat the finished item, but "resting?" And for 24hrs??

MMario's picture

I've seen this said before as well - and seen WHY it is said in my own knitting - the gauge CAN be distinctly different when "fresh knit" compared to the next day...doesn't always happen - but some yarns stretch as you knit and very gradually "pull back" when allowed to sit.

MMario - I don't live in the 21st Century - but I sometimes play a character who does.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

JPaul's picture

Ahhh...interesting, MMario. I was thinking that the resting period would allow them to relax and lengthen as opposed to pulling in. Hmmm...I may need to do some experimenting.

kiwiknitter's picture

The first book is in a book store and I don't remember the name (I didn't purchase it). The second book is "Knitter's Know-How" by Heather Halcrow Nicholson. This book is written like a school textbook. It's not about patterns but about understanding knitting and knitted fabric so that one can work one's own designs. It's very technical and explains things very well. I found the section on necklines very helpful recently and now I'm looking at sleeve cap shaping and considering how to work the sleeves of a future jumper. This book was published here in NZ (1988) but if you should be able to obtain a copy, it's well worth the search.

Anyway, she recommends letting the swatch rest for 24hrs or if you can't wait, to at least steam it. Since this was the second place I'd read something I'd not heard of before, I thought to ask MWK folks if they know about it.

My knitting is totally tubular!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

I never purposely let my swatches "rest" though sometimes it happens that way. Mostly I just try for a large enough piece (15-20 cm) so that the cast on and side edges won't distort the stitches too much. I usually don't save my swatches, so I just pull out the needles before counting the stitches, then rip it so I can use the yarn in my project.