Crochet Swatches: To Swatch or Not To Swatch

To swatch or not to swatch? It’s a question I ask myself before I begin a new project. I know what the right answer is–swatch. But it’s hard not to jump right into starting the crochet pattern. Some patterns even have multiple gauge swatches; each worked in a different pattern. So I have developed six guidelines for swatching. If you find yourself, like me, questioning whether you really have to make that swatch, make the swatch. But if you need more convincing, here are the top 6 things to keep in mind about crochet swatches.

crochet swatches

Swatching is critical for crochet garments where gauge is important to ensure proper fit.

1. Swatching is critical if you are crocheting a garment, especially a fitted garment or crochet sweater. If you are crocheting a bag, blanket, or shawl, an inch difference between the original size and your finished piece is not going to be the difference between it fitting or your wasting hours of crochet time and effort. But if you are crocheting a sweater and your finished front and back are each an inch too small or too large, you’re finished sweater won’t fit. After all the time you spend crocheting, to end up with a sweater that doesn’t fit because you didn’t swatch is sad. I know because I’ve made this error. Learn from my mistakes.

2. Make sure your crochet swatch is big enough to get a proper gauge measurement. The stitches at the beginning and end of your row can be tight or loose, so including them in your swatch measurements will not give you a true gauge. Let’s take a look at the Dusty Plum Dress. The swatch for this crochet dress is 8 V-sts and 15 rows = 4”. When you are making your swatch, you’ll want to make sure it’s at least 6”. Measure 4” in the middle of the swatch for a true gauge.

crochet swatches

Swatching is a great opportunity to practice a new stitch or technique. Just make sure you have figured
the stitch out before taking your gauge measurement.

3. If your swatch is worked in a crochet pattern that you have never worked before, spend some time practicing the stitch before making your swatch. Your first few attempts at a new stitch will be inconsistent with some stitches too tight or too loose. This will skew your gauge measurements.

4. Make sure you crochet your swatch under similar circumstances you will be crocheting the finished project in. If you crochet your swatch in anxious moments while waiting in the doctor’s office, it will be tighter than a garment crocheted in the evenings while watching your favorite television show.

5. Unless otherwise specified, block your swatch before taking your measurements. Remember that your swatch will grow when the stitches are blocked out. So if you crochet to an unblocked swatch and then wear a blocked sweater, it will be too big.

6. Save your swatch. If you ever need to repair your finished piece, you can ravel the swatch and use this saved yarn to repair any damage.

crochet swatches

The Pink Lemonade Cowl swatch is measured unblocked to determine gauge.

The next time you start a new crochet pattern and ask yourself, “Do I really have to make that swatch?” keep these six guidelines in mind. Have your own crochet swatch tip? Share it in the comments.

Then download or order your Interweave Crochet Summer 2019 and start a crochet swatch. I’d love to see your photos!

Happy crocheting,

Explore more crochet patterns in Interweave Crochet!


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