I’ve been swatching for a pattern I cooked up. But more on the project later – I want to talk about swatch gauge.
Some project gauges are given in the project stitch (maybe seed stitch or a cable), which others give it in stockinette stitch. I swatch like it’s a religion, so this has always bothered me a bit. The argument is that people might knit up pattern swatches at a different tension than a stockinette swatch; if the pattern is all over the garment, it could affect the final size. So many designers give gauge in the dominant stitch pattern.
But my instinct is to go with a stockinette gauge, and here’s why:
1. The gauge given on the ball band of the yarn is based on stockinette stitch. You need to know this if you’re going to use a different yarn than the one suggested.
2. Pattern stitches can be much/less stretchier than stockinette stitch. For example, lace or cables. My cable swatch could realistically be blocked anywhere from 3.5 to 5″. And it really depends on the amount of ease designed into a given garment. Did the designer intend the cable to be stretched a bit and fit snugly (e.g. a hat/toque)? Or was it intended to hang loosely from the body?
3. What if the pattern has multiple stitch patterns? Are knitters going to knit up a swatch in each stitch pattern? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
A search on a few Ravelry forums found a bit of discussion on this; some like pattern gauge, some like stockinette gauge. However, several people concluded that, as knitters, they would like to see gauge given in both stockinette and the pattern stitch. But…see #3 above. Really, it comes down to the fact that no one (not even me) is going to do two swatches for a project. A lot of people don’t even do one. So I’m going to go out on a limb and just give the stockinette gauge for this pattern.
When I’m not knitting swatches lately, I’m trying to find a sock pattern to knit this lovely up: