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Should You Make a Crochet Gauge Swatch: Yes or No?

So, why is it that this helpful technique is often one that we all want to avoid? We asked our designers when they swatch, why they don’t swatch, and for some tips to help us all out. Here’s what they had to say:

Regarding garments…

“For a garment , I always swatch. For smaller projects, I usually don’t. For me it depends on the project and the stitch pattern.” – Susan Heyn

“It is definitely important for garments whether you are using the exact same yarn or not because tension varies between each crocheter. Sometimes I cheat and do a few full rows across to get number of stitches for gauge and then partial rows up to get the height for number of rows needed for gauge. It’ll form an L shape in the end rather than a complete square.” – Janet Pippin

“Depends on the project. I rarely swatch, but I do more often for clothing.” – Deborah Carpenter

“I primarily do garments so swatching is an imperative step for me” – Arica Presinal

“Garments yes, everything else usually a no.” – Sonja Otto

Regarding the final piece…

“Swatching is the difference between a homemade project and handmade object d’art.” – Rosann Fleischauer

Finding the humor in swatching…

“I don’t always swatch, but when I do I feel very accomplished!” – Emma Wilkinson

“Swatching greatly reduces the number of swear words a lengthy project will require.” – Kati Brown

“I do when I’m designing, but not when I’m making things for myself. I feel like swatches are often unreliable. They lie!” – April Garwood

“Never swatch after midnight! Late-night swatches cannot be trusted.” – Susan Kennedy

Just say no…

“N. O.” – Melinda Miller

“I’m a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl, I don’t swatch but I do check gauge as I work.” – Amanda Critchley

“Rarely. I tend to use the same yarn so I’m familiar with the gauge and drape to achieve what I need.” – Tian Connaughton

“Sometimes but usually no.” – Gwen Buttke McGannon

Swatching tricks…

“So I often swatch without swatching. I’ll start a project, but I’ll start with a sleeve or smaller section. If my tension is right, I’ll keep going. If it’s wrong, I can unravel and try again. The only time I do separate square swatches is if a submission calls for it, or I’m working in a yarn that won’t unravel well.” – Sarah Dawn

“I know swatching is important, but I hate it. It feels like a waste of time. However, I have learned that I can use a swatch as a pocket or a sleeve. That works for me!” – Nazanin Fard
“Swatching is only necessary if you care how big the piece turns out. So for anything that has to fit, absolutely swatch. If you’ve got plenty of wiggle room (scarves, blankets), skip the swatch and dive right in.” – Sandi Rosner

So, do you swatch? Do you hate swatching but do it anyway? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Carla B.

    I generally prefer using natural fibers, and rarely use a pattern, so for many things, I do – then I measure it, wash it, to full/ felt, and and compare the fulled size to the original, so the difference can be accounted for, in sizing my work – even if it’s not a garment.

  • Colleen P.

    I only swatch if the finished size is very important. Otherwise I just dive right in. I like the idea of just starting with a smaller part of the item and going on if it’s the right size or having less to unravel if it isn’t. It amazes me that after all these years as a crocheter I can still learn a new idea.

  • Kelly V.

    I have maybe swatched once or twice. Sometimes I will make a square just to see how it washes up to see if it will shrink.

  • Brenda H.

    If it’s a garment, I swatch. Back when I was a newbie I didn’t see the importance of swatching until I’d wasted a lot of time and yarn. I learned the hard way!

  • Deborah H.

    I have never swatched before. If the instruction says something like every 5 sc and 5 rows equals 4 in by 4 in, then I use my ruler to check my gauge in the beginning of my wip. If it’s right, I keep going. If the pattern has the finished measurement, I check that too before putting the final touches on my work. I just don’t like wasting yarn on a swatch. Especially if some yarn brands and colors are hard to come by.

  • I never swatch. With clothing, I just try on as I go. That’s the advantage of crochet!

  • Cheryl M.

    Love this article but for me no matter what yarn or hook I use I can never get my gauge swatch to match instructions. It’s frustrating and why I have shied away from making garments. Any suggestions for me?

  • I am always concerned when I have an expensive yarn or I’m really close to the exact amounts I need that either it won’t frog easily or I will otherwise ruin the swatch. So what I’m trying to do is build up a library of swatches (and keep them in a box) of left overs and then try to match that yarn with what the pattern suggests. I also am planning to swatch to learn different techniques so I can use this info for my own projects.

  • Susan R.

    I usually swatch, but as others have said; “It’s not necessary for scarves or blankets”
    I generally just use a smaller needle or hook. I know I knit and crochet loosely. I am trying to convince my friend who crochets too tightly to swatch and/or use a larger hook. Theona, you know it’s you..

  • Cyndy M.

    I’ve never made a garment but it’s been on my mind so much here lately that I’m so glad I read most of the reviews! Thank you ladies!!

  • Nancy F.

    I’ve been burned by not swatching a garment or a yarn sub like the time my bulky yarn wasn’t quite as bulky as the pattern yarn so my blanket was about 2/3 the size of what the finished project was supposed to be so I try & be good about it now


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