Yes ,I know I am a bit of a swatching freak. It’s all of the possibilities of a yarn that get me excited and all of potentials problems that keep me on my toes.
I almost always swatch more than once for a bigger project or for a project when gauge is critical. Not necessarily because I always love it, but because I know something about how I swatch.
This pattern calls for a yarn to shift gauges, to be knit bigger than the suggested label gauge. Not all yarns can do that, but the wonderful woolen spun Weekend Wool can.
I swatched with a couple of needle sizes. I guessed at a 7, and also used a nine. I washed and measure my swatch. According to this swatch, which is small I know, & was a little tight and 9 was spot on at 3.5 stitches to the inch.
Me knowing me after a couple of decades of knitting. I took my 9s and yarn to the couch. I cracked a beer and put on a mystery. I recently switched from BritBox to Acorn, so many new to me shows. I’m currently loving Queens of Mystery.
I knit until I forgot I was knitting and then knit some more . I knit a bigger swatch, with out any edge borders, so I could really relax into my knitting. Relax I did, you can see the difference in jut the knitting of my two swatches. My beer + mystery swatch is more my true knitting swatch. It’s clearly relaxed and looser than the part of the smaller swatch knit with the same needles.
When I swatch and I’m thinking about swatching and my needles/yarn are close to gauge I can make that gauge work, my tensioning goes looser or tighter as I need it. When in reality, when I start knitting my project my gauge is frequently off by 1/2 a stitch to the inch.
How do I know? Experience, apparently I’m not just a people pleaser, but a gauge pleaser too. I can see it in my relaxed knitting swatch.
I can see the exact point where I stopped thinking about getting gauge and relaxed, right at the pink arrow. Above that it’s all relaxed knitting, then when I start thinking about binding off my knitting slips back into gauge pleasing mode, at the green arrow.
My relaxed and finished gauge is 3.25, a 1/4 of stitch off of the pattern gauge. Now I have to decide do I really like the hand of the fabric (or do I just want to start the sweater), or do I knit a relaxed swatch with size 8 needles?