Swatching is a dangerous activity. If you’re not careful, you’ll find you’ve cast on a new project. Case in point:
I really did love the Herringbone Lace stitch in the leftovers from my Catnip Marigold blanket, so here we go. I wasn’t about to waste that yarn, and I think it’ll make a marvelous scarf. This one isn’t going to be very long, but I don’t really like long scarves that much anyway, so this one is for me. I went up two US needle sizes (8 to 10, or 5 to 6mm) and added one repeat. It’s about 6 inches wide and 9 inches so far. It won’t take long to knit up and it will leave me feeling that I made the most out of this yarn, so I think I’m going to be happy.
The change in needle size was crucial. The pattern shows up better, I think, but even more important, it now drapes quite well. One of the things you learn after knitting for a while is that drape is really very, very important. It’s one of the chief reasons that you need to swatch. If you’re substituting a yarn you may be able to “get gauge” just fine, but if the material is either too stiff or too – sleazy is the word that comes to mind there, then you just aren’t going to be satisfied with what you make. This is one thing that’s just as true of scarves as it is of sweaters, so it really should be learned early, but I think it often isn’t. Socks are different – you don’t want drape, or the socks will be too loose and will wear out. But again, the firmness of the fabric is absolutely crucial. There’s really quite a lot to think about with knitting, you know?