Almost Ten Things You Can Do with Your Swatches while knitting

In This Chapter

Encouraging reasons to swatch
Using your swatches for something productive
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: Swatching before you knit is important. Why? Knowing what gauge you’re knitting at is vital to having a finished product that you like. (See Chapter 2 for more on gauge and swatching.) In this chapter are some useful (though sometimes more silly than useful) things that you can do with your swatches. After you read this chapter, you’ll definitely want to swatch!

Knit a Set of Coasters

Consider turning a set of swatches into coasters. Felted swatches are a great choice for coasters because they’ll insulate your table best. But any square swatch will do the job and add a touch of whimsy to your tabletop. Flip to the appendix for the lowdown on felting.

Sew Some Cozies

Chances are you have something rattling around in your purse or knitting bag that deserves a little cushioning. Fold your swatch in half and sew up two sides. This instant cozy can be used as a case for your glasses, cellphone, camera, or music player. If you have larger items that need cozies, you can use multiple swatches.

Create Cat Toys

Cats love all things made from yarn. Fold your swatch into a rectangle or triangle and sew up all but a couple of inches. Add stuffing or catnip, and then finish the seam. Your cat will be very happy.

Whip Up Washcloths and Soap Sacks

If your swatch is cotton or a cotton blend, consider pressing it into service as a washcloth or dishrag. Slightly more glamorous: Make a sack to hold a bar of soap.
To make the soap sack, knit 5 inches in whatever stitch pattern you need to swatch, and then work this eyelet row: K2, *yo, k2tog, repeat from * to last 1 or 2 sts, and then k1 or k2 as needed. Work the last inch of the swatch to finish your soap sack, fold the swatch in half and sew up the bottom and side, leaving the eyelet end open. Insert a nice bar of soap and run a length of yarn though the eyelets and tie it. It’s better than soap on a rope!

Make Slippers

If you look at Chapter 8, you’ll notice that the retro slippers are really just squares. They’re worked in garter stitch, but you can use almost any stitch or color pattern. Make the swatch the size that you need to fit your foot, but work the last inch (or two if you’re working on a large slipper) in rib before gathering the swatch up and finishing it as described in the slipper pattern. And, of course, don’t forget that you need to make a second one if you want a pair!

Stitch a Crazy Quilt

If you take it upon yourself to always knit standardized swatches (say 4 inches square with a 1 inch garter stitch border all the way around) and stockpile them, sooner or later you’ll have enough to stitch together into a baby blanket or even a larger afghan. Imagine yourself decades from now wrapped in a blanket made of swatches from a lifetime of knitting projects. Doesn’t that make you want to swatch?

Keep a Knitting Journal

If you want to be a wise and organized knitter, consider keeping your swatch in a knitting journal. Include the yarn’s label, the needle size you used, the pattern information, and any changes or corrections you made. That way, if you ever want to re-create a garment, you have all the information that you need.

Stash Away Swatches for Later Mending

If you save your swatches long enough, you can use them for later repairs. Ten years from now when your cardigan seam starts to go or a moth chews through the elbow of your mate’s favorite sweater, you’ll be darned glad that you kept the swatch.

Store Swatches as Emergency Yarn

Whatever you choose to do with your swatch, be sure to keep it around at least until your project is done. That way, if you run out of yarn just as you’re about to bind off, you can unravel your swatch and use the yarn.

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