Every time I embark on a new project, I silently promise that I will swatch. But then I don't. If I am to be truly confessional, I need to admit that of the many reasons why I have not swatched in the past (and I truly am committed to swatching in the future), it's because I'm super frugal. Okay, I'll call it like it is: I'm cheap. Recently, I've tried with some success to not add to my stash. If I have bought yarn, it's been during a sale and with a project in mind. That's been a huge improvement from when I would wander into a shop, fall in love with a yarn, and buy one or two skeins, and then pack them away in my stash.
With my new-found self-control, I do some fast calculations and buy exactly the amount of yardage I need. To swatch with any real commitment, I should buy one extra skein and use that to swatch on different size needles and, in some cases, in different stitches. What would this mean to my wallet? A difference of $10-$20 depending on the yarn, and that can be daunting sometimes.
But as the saying goes, penny-wise, pound-foolish. After devoting hours and hours of knitting time plus a fair amount of cash on one sweater only to have it come out too large or too small, has taught me that my frugal ways need to be amended. That extra skein will help me create a hand-made garment that I will happily and proudly wear for years. That extra skein will teach me a lot about the fiber I'm going to spend a lot of time with. That extra skein will save me money and tears in the future.
I spent this past weekend swatching with Manos Maxima using different needles sizes and different stitch pattern. I took a genuis tip from Jared Flood's toolbox and knitted pearl bumps at the top of each swatch to note which size needle I used. All my swatches were done with 20 stitches, and I absolutely loved this exercise. I learned a ton about the yarn, my own knitting tension, and how beautiful some stitches look once soaked and blocked. Most importantly, I think I've found the stitch I will use to knit my #slowfashionoctober sweater. Stay tuned.....