When we find a beautiful project to knit, have the right yarn and needles, we can't wait any longer. However, knitting is slow by nature and if you're looking for a relaxing and enjoyable experience, you should wait a little more and knit a swatch.

Swatches in knitting are key. They're useful for:
  1. Practicing hand movements: it's a good idea to learn and memorize basic movements of knitting by making some swatches. Later, I'm going to tell you why.

  2. Practicing new stitches: once you control knit and purl stitches, you'll be able to knit lots of its combinations. Sometimes they'll be easy and you don't really need to practice them before starting your new project. But, other times you'd be patience and take this step. I'm going to explain the reason below.

  3. Measure your gauge: your gauge is a way of measuring your tension while knitting. Tension is a very important concept in needlecraft. You need to find balance between how you move while knitting and the yarn. It's also de method to get a garment that fits you. I'll post about gauge swatch in the future.

  4. Studying new shapes and techniques: fundamental for knitwear designers. Many of them admit that they spend more time making swatches than knitting their designs.
It's a good way to get confidence while learning how to knit. That's what I try to show in the first 6 chapters of How to knit serie on my YouTube channel. I knit two swatches, one in Garter stitch and other in Stockinette stitch. We can learn with them the basics of knitting: casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch and binding off stitches. Once you get more fluent movements, you'll be able to start knitting projects for beginners, more interesting and motivating.

Some readers have asked me in somewhere what yarn and needles I recommend them to start knitting. In my opinion, a DK or Worsted yarn wool and needles of 4,5 or 5 mm. are a good choice for beginners. Let's explain this enigmatic phrase:
  • DK or Worsted yarn?: they are medium weight yarn. Finer yarns requires a little more advance skills. And thicker ones needs wider movements, not too much comfortable for new knitters. DK are thinner than Worsted yarns and both belong to the American standard system. You can buy it looking for those categories or just for the recommended needles. Another important thing to look at is that you can find your yarn in balls or in skeins. You can just start knitting with balls, but if you get skeins, you should wind them. You can make it by hand or use a yarn swift and a ball winder. If you don't have all that stuff, you can ask for someone's help on your yarn shop.

  • wool yarn?: yes, it's the best option to get started on knitting because it's stretchier and easier to handle than any other material.

  • 4,5 or 5 mm. needles?: you can get them in bamboo, wood, metallic or plastic. In my opinion, bamboo or metallic grippy enough needles are the best option for beginners.

  • More recommendations: if you want to learn knitting in continental style, you should use straight needles of about 20-25 cm long or interchangeable circular needles. You can ask in your yarn shop how to use them. I'll make a video tutorial to explain how to soon.

  • My final recommendation is to have a ball of yarn just for practice. Once you make 2 or 3 swatches, and knit more fluently, it's time to progress.
In these days, I'm designing a pretty pattern for beginners. I'll release it soon. You can practice with it all you've learnt with my video tutorials. However, if you can't wait and feel confidence enough with your knits and purls, you can make the most usual project for beginners: a scarf in Garter or Stockinette stitch. Or maybe in Moss stitch (I'll explain on next week). It consist of casting on as many stitches as you prefer. It gives you the width of the scarf. Then, simply make you favourite stitch until you'll get the length of the scarf that you most like. Remember that if you choose Stockinette stitch, it will curl in both sides. You can avoid this effect just knitting 3 or 4 stitches, both at the beginning and at the end of each row, in garter stitch.

Once you have a beautiful pattern, I know you'll be impatience to start it. But, I think that it's the perfect moment to practice all its most difficult stitches. Otherwise, you can knit as you go, probably make some unnecessary mistakes you can't put up with, and then have to rip your knitting back. A total nightmare, isn't it?

Before I turned into a more mindful knitter, I made many mistakes, as most of new knitters in the world. But now, I swatch very often. You don't really need big and boring swatches for practicing new stitches. In fact, swatching has lots of advantages:
  1. You can understand better everything.

  2. You get familiar with difficult stitches before starting a project, so you'll feel more confident with it.

  3. You also get familiar with the yarn. Knitting linen is not the same as knitting merino wool, for example.

  4. You'll check soon if the needles chosen are perfect for you and your new project. The more comfortable you'll be with them, the better experience you'll have. This is a very subjective feeling.

  5. You always can keep the swatch to remember stitches in the future. You even can make a swatch book with them. Then, you'll become a top knitter ;)

  6. The great advantage: reduce stress. Ripping back your knitting is not a satisfying experience. You can damage your yarn too, if it is delicate. For me, making a little swatch is so easy, that it's worth the time. And say bye bye to stress in knitting.

If you are already a knitter or a new knitter, I'd like to know your opinion about swatches. Do you use them? Do you think they are useful?

See you on Thursday!

Thank you for reading and have a great day <3

2 comentarios:

  1. I guess I'm a new knitter. I've made a scarf or two during pregnancy and a simple rectangle shape that I made into a square purse with a long knit strap for little girls b-day parties...but I have this passion to learn to knit!!! I would love to actually knit an article of clothing one day...but was confused where to start. So finally I figured out that I need to knit swatches in different stitches. (And then make a swatch blanket for my daughter). So far I've made 4. But I've loved knitting them! I think it's fun and great practice b4 I knit something complicated. I really enjoyed the basket weave stitch!!

  2. Hi Kristina!
    Oh yes, you're a truly knitter! You're doing really well by using swatches to improve your knitting skills. A blanket is one of the most popular projects for beginners, so I think you'll become a very good knitter. I also love basket weave stitch. I think it's so funny how we can make beautiful patterns just by combining knits and purls.
    Thank you so much for your comment. It's the first one on the English side of my blog!