February 14th, 2012

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Using Eyelets in Your Gauge Swatch

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You’ve heard the phrase “gauge swatches don’t lie”. But what happens when you forget what needle size you used for a swatch? You take the time to knit a swatch, trying multiple needle sizes; wash and dry it. Then as you unpin it from your blocking board and admire it, you look down and see a big pile of knitting needles of various sizes piled together. Wait, which size needles did I use again? All that work swatching and now you have to guess at the needle size used.

This has happened to me more than a few times. Sometimes the amount of time from when I swatch to when I’m ready to start knitting a project is too long, and I just can’t remember which needles I used. To deal with this issue, I’ve started knitting a row of eyelets into each section of my knitted swatch. Each set of eyelets represents the needle size I used.

swatch knit with US 6, 5, and 7 knitting needles

If you’ve never knit eyelets before, it’s an easy thing to incorporate into a stockinette swatch.

  • On the knit side, knit across a row until you’re ready to add some eyelets.
  • [YO, K2tog] repeat until you’ve created the same number of eyelets as your needle size.
  • Continue knitting to the end of your row.
  • On the purl side of your swatch, purl across as your normally would. You should have the same number of stitches as the previous rows.

Do you swatch before every project? Or are there only certain types of projects you will swatch for? Tell us about your swatching habits in the comments.

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14 Responses to “Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Using Eyelets in Your Gauge Swatch”

  1. Amy Says:

    This is a really good idea. I usually use a scrap piece of yarn to loop through a stitch on the border and tie knots according to needle size. e.g. 7 knots = size US7 needle.

  2. Brigi B Says:

    This is so helpful, thanks for the idea!

  3. Deborah Says:

    I just knit swatches when it’s really going to matter, as for a sweater or vest.  Usually I am knitting pretty close to the right gauge with the needles suggested so I don’t worry much.

  4. Thecompassioknitter Says:

    This is a great idea! I sometimes use a marker to write the needle size directly on the swatch, which some people have told me is sacrilege 🙂
    I always swatch/wash/stretch/measure for fitted garments- almost never for shawls, scarves, etc., unless I’m unsure of the fabric my yarn/needles will produce.

  5. Sarah Says:

    I love this because the eyelets are easy to see for my old eyes!  I have used knots in the yarn and purl bumps on a knit row, but this is much more elegant.. thanks!
    I don’t often knits sweaters, but I like to swatch to get familiar with the pattern stitches and to make sure I get a fabric with the drape and handle that I want.

  6. Ruth Kittner Says:

    this is a fantastic and wonderfully creative idea!    I don’t swatch before every project IF I’ve used the yarn before.  I keep a book with the swatching details (and usually the swatches):  it’s organized by yarn type and brand, and I keep a sample of each swatch and notes on obtaining that gauge.  But I always check the gauge soon after starting so if it is off, I make a swatch and test it out before I go any further with the item. 

  7. Deb Says:

    I don’t know about gauge swatches never lying – they always lie in my experience. I do the eyelet thing every time I swatch, which is to say I’ve done it once. It’s not very helpful if by the time you swatch and block, you are on to the next project and by the time you come back to it, you’ve thrown out the swatch by mistake.

  8. Kathy Strand Says:

    Awesome idea!

  9. Kathleen Says:

    What a wonderful idea!  I swatch almost everytime I start a project, especially with all the new yarns.  Back in the day my gauge was always dead-on but in the past 8-10 years that has all changed.  Now I need a way to mark the swatch for flat pieces that I use one size needle on the knit side and another on the purl side since I have found that I get a much more uniform fabric when I use a 1 size smaller needle on the purl side.

  10. Hamilton Terri Says:

    Cool! But what do you do to indicate size 10.5?

  11. Leanne Pemburn Says:

    I swatch larger projects, or stitches/yarns I haven’t worked with before.  This is a great idea!

  12. Kelly Says:

    I swatch for sweaters, or something I haven’t done before (fair isle mittens, most recently).  Socks, anything lacey, or smaller things I don’t bother.

    Your eyelet idea is brilliant!! Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Design Says:

    Full numbers on the right and fractions on the left
     1 eyelet = .25 ,2= .50, 3= .75  so
    10.5 would be 10 on the right, 2 on the left
     Been doing this for my machine knitted swatches for decades

  14. AmyBB Says:

    Oooh – I like the eyelets … I’ve been doing purls in the stockinette.  Sometimes over 2 rows to make them stand out.  

    Great idea!

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