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 Tension/guage squares - do you do them?
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Puddytat purr
New Pal

United Kingdom
34 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  04:35:02 AM  Show Profile Send Puddytat purr a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have been knitting for 20 odd years, I always follow a pattern, although I usually substitute wool for wool in same weight class (but maybe different manufacturer/colour etc).

But I have NEVER knitted a square to check my guage/tension before starting the project.

So far, I've been lucky except for a crochet blanket I was doing, following instructions and it was far too tight. I jumped the hook up a few sizes and now it's ok.

Do you bother with the tension squares?

The circumstances surrounding your birth are irrelevent, it's what you do with the gift of life that matters!

Queen Knitsalot
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1331 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  05:04:57 AM  Show Profile Send Queen Knitsalot a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Um, nope. If I am starting a sweater I do the sleeve first and look at it, and if it's allright I continue. Ususally I figure it's bound to fit somebody. I like knitting for the process.


I'm not crazy.....I'm colourful. Sounds better on a resume.
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1800 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  05:23:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit knitz2's Homepage Send knitz2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
depends on what I'm making. I rarely do sweaters but when I do I *never* use the recommended yarn so I want to check drape and st per inch before starting one. I've even done swatches for shawls but to check drape, not size ... I want to see how the yarn and stitch pattern work with 2 or 3 different size needles before starting.

for the majority of things I make, though, I figure the first couple inches of the project is my "gauge swatch".

Keep knitting, this too shall pass.
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4160 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  05:34:25 AM  Show Profile Send dschmidt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Always do for larger projects like adult sweaters, never do for children's sweaters, hats or socks.

Donna in VA
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Seriously Hooked

774 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  05:56:33 AM  Show Profile Send AuntyNin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like to "test drive" yarns that I've never worked with before, often knitting up swatch squares on three or four different sizes of needles, just to see how the yarn works up and what the resultant fabric looks like. That gives me a clearer idea of which of the (bazillions of) planned projects the yarn would be best for.


Everything happens for a reason, except possibly football. --- Terry Pratchett
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1136 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  07:02:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit PBELKNAP's Homepage Send PBELKNAP a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It all depends...

I generally knit close to whatever the gauge is, so if it's a yarn I've worked with before, I'll do what Suzanne does, and just start the sleeve (or some other small part of the project, depending on the project) and then see how I'm doing. If I've never worked with the yarn before, then yes, I'll definitely do a swatch--thank heavens I did one for the Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn I'm using for the One-Stitch Cardigan. That turned out to be A LOT thinner than advertised.

I find I have to be especially careful when crocheting. Unlike knitting, I usually crochet tightly, so I nearly always have to go up at least one hook size, if not more. So in this instance, I definitely swatch.


WIP = Aran Stitch Afghan (crochet), Easy Playtime Set (knit), Patons Cabled Yoke Pullover (knit), One-Stitch Cardigan (knit)

Done this year = Scrap Scarf (knit), Gloves (knit), Mittens (knit), Afghan (crochet), Pinwheel Afghan (crochet), Knit Your Bit Scarf for the WWII Museum (knit - charity), Scrap Sweater (knit), House Socks (knit)

If I could only do this for a living...
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Chatty Knitter

101 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  07:56:06 AM  Show Profile Send GGKnits a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I haven't yet. I've knit some socks and have just gone with the "women's medium size" and have been lucky. I also like the process and try to stick with recommended yarn, etc. but I do knit tight so I could get into trouble.
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1692 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  08:22:34 AM  Show Profile Send jtamsn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm in with the no's. I've been knitting for 45+ years and have only once knitted a swatch. Have I ever gotten burned? Sure, but only a couple of times. I often check the guage once I have knit a short distance into the project, especially if I am knitting with a yarn that is new to my needles.
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Seriously Hooked

639 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  09:45:00 AM  Show Profile Send Jaknit a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No test squares for me either. I usually begin with the back if it is a sweater where slight tension errors can be more easily manipulated and aren't so obvious.

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1637 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  09:50:26 AM  Show Profile Send fiberlicious a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Being Jewish, I'm going to answer a question with a question:

Which would I rather do, spend a couple of hours knitting a gauge swatch or spend countless hours, days, weeks and months knitting a sweater that doesn't fit me?

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9715 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  10:02:08 AM  Show Profile Send lella a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree with fiberlicious. I do a pattern swatch on all new yarns because I don't like coming out with a useless garment. Time is just too precious to me and I don't like wasting it.

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2493 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  10:24:18 AM  Show Profile Send MindyO a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If it's something that has to fit, then sort of. I don't do a full on test square 4"x4" just a few rows and maybe 20 stitches wide just enough to measure sts/inch. I never concern myself with rows/inch I figure I'll just stop when it's about long enough.

If it doesn't need to fit, like a blanket or something no I don't. I usually just jump right in and if I find it too tight or loose I will rip it out then start over with a different size needle, or hook.

My Flickr pics
Ravelry: MindyO
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1670 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  11:54:24 AM  Show Profile Send Mickey a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Amen, fiberlicious!
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New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  4:03:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have been knitting for a long time (40 odd years) and, until fairly recently, I had never knitted a tension square. I don't really recall any problems, either, even though I doubt that I ever used the yarn suggested in the pattern.

In more recent times however, and not just with my handspun, I have had problems with fit and have resorted to knitting a tension square most of the time. Is this because today's yarns are not spun with the same rigorous specifications as yarns of old? Or is it me?


If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
My Blog (Roselea Fibres)
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4159 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  4:32:08 PM  Show Profile Send Solaris a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by fiberlicious

Which would I rather do, spend a couple of hours knitting a gauge swatch or spend countless hours, days, weeks and months knitting a sweater that doesn't fit me?

That's how I see it, too.

I also swatch when I substitute yarns, or need to experiment with the look of the fabric/stitch, or plan to modify a pattern/make up my own pattern. The only time when I don't swatch is when crocheting doilies, since I'm not that particular re. their finished size.
Plus, I despise frogging and re-starting a project, so swatching helps to minimize that.

Let's be kind to one another.
My Ravelry page:
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1566 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  5:09:32 PM  Show Profile Send phlame a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Which would I rather do, spend a couple of hours knitting a gauge swatch or spend countless hours, days, weeks and months knitting a sweater that doesn't fit me?

Been there, done that! I swatch about 99% of the time.

Shirley Ryan, living in Dana Point, CA

...and dance like no one is watching!
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3095 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  6:15:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Almost always, but then - I'm almost always making up my own pattern so I need to know what the gauge is going to be.

If I am following a pattern I pretty much just start knitting away on the project.

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honorary angel

1650 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  6:38:15 PM  Show Profile Send llinn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
my swatches arSeldom accurate. I usually knit a sleeve if I'm worried, but I check my measurements fairly often as I get going. Sometimes I continue to knit for days on something that is clearly TOO large because I am stubbord and don't wish to frog and can WILL the finished object into usefulness (you thought the Vulczn mind meld was cool--you should see the universe altering look of death).

So no swatches, per se, but lots of tape measuring of pieces.

And you can do a lot with pieces that are a littl offsize. For a close fit sweater, a smaller back with two just slightly larger fronts makes a better fitting, nicer appearance. You can disappear a LOT of flaws with proper blocking and finishing.

My mother finished her Stitches sweater last year and came to me in tears. She was done something AWFUL and now one side of the front was 4 inches longer than the other. I took it off, blocked it to size and sewed it back on. Perfect, no ruffling, no stretching. She had pulled it longer in the seaming and made it dreadful. I just smooshed it back into shape and it was fine. This stuff ain't rocket science and it isn't that picky.

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Seriously Hooked

659 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2008 :  7:08:21 PM  Show Profile Send adalton124 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm a swatcher generally. I like to see the drape and count my spi, since I tend to knit tightly. Other than that, I'm with Llin - I can block a host of mistakes and general iffiness into a perfectly lovely FO.

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Chatty Knitter

125 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2008 :  07:57:00 AM  Show Profile  Visit TeenKnitter's Homepage Send TeenKnitter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't normally make things where the gauge matters, so I don't check.

"If at first you don't suceed, failure may be your style" Quentin Crisp

Please check out my blog!
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Gabber Extraordinaire

449 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2008 :  10:15:48 AM  Show Profile Send watcher a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't usually swatch, however I'm almost always knitting socks (I've knit so many at this point, I have a good idea of what will work), hats, mittens, or other small projects - which don't take that much time to re-knit if needed. I don't usually bother with swatching for scarves or shawls either.

For sweaters, I will do a swatch - I substitute yarn, and I'm usually off by a needle size or two from the recommended. Then I check the project as I go to see if it's coming along roughly as expected, as my swatches aren't always at the same tension as my project...

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