I know many people who never swatch. Or they swatch and only knit one inch. If I'm trying a new pattern or new yarn, I really like to do an accurate swatch.
Last night I discovered a new pattern and immediately knew I wanted to knit it.
It's called Maine Squeeze by Katie Smith. It's knit on US Size 13 needles holding two strands of bulky yarn together at the same time. So it's extra quick and thick and it's so adorable.
Before using the actual yarn I bought for a blanket, I used the same yarn in a denim blue that was leftover from a friendship blanket a few years ago.
The swatch on the bottom was my first attempt with a US size 15. Good news! I was spot on gauge of 9 sts = 4 inches. Bad news. I quickly noted two problems. My wraps were too erratic. I discovered that if I held the cable needle independently of the rest of the knitting, but close to the right hand needle, I got a more consistent wrap. The second thing I noticed is that my stitches were a little bit loose. I wasn't certain this is the look I wanted for this blanket.
Trying for a tighter stitch, I cast on again with a US size 13 needle. See the top swatch. Good news. My wraps were more consistent. The fabric I knit was more even. Bad news. My gauge was slightly off. 10 sts = 4 inches.
I decided to go with a US size 13 needle anyway. But as soon as I had knit about 5 inches of the actual blanket, I realized the more even fabric I was creating with the smaller needle was also creating a very dense fabric. That was the opposite of the goal I was trying to achieve.
Ripping out and starting over didn't take too much time. With double bulky yarn and very large size 15 needles, this knits up so quickly. In no time at all I had the beginnings of a gift blanket.
I really like this blanket. My only concern is that I'm not comfortable that the gauge is going to give me the overall dimensions in the pattern.
Gauge: 9 sts = 4 inches
Blanket dimensions: 48" x 54"
Since I cast on 93 sts, I only see that this blanket will be 41 inches. That's pre-blocking, of course. So I hope those final dimensions are post-blocking. Since it knits so quickly, there's a very good chance I finish this blanket today or tomorrow, so I'll let you know the final dimensions pre and post blocking.