I used to greatly dislike swatching.  Swatching was not fun… swatching was stressful.

It took me a long time to identify the knot in my stomach:  I got it every time I sat down to swatch.  I would knit for an hour or so, wait for the swatch to dry, and the whole time a little voice in my head worried that it might be “wrong”.

That it might have been pointless.

That no matter what needle I used, I wouldn’t get gauge… because even if I got close enough on stitch gauge, I rarely matched row gauge too.

And those gauge uncertainties added an element of unease to my sweater knitting.  I spent most of my sweater knitting (you know, like hours and hours of my life) worrying about whether…

…was I adjusting my lengths properly to account for my row gauge difference?

…should I add a stitch or two here or there to account for my slight stitch gauge difference?

…should I knit a little looser, a little tighter?  Has my gauge changed?

Blocking my sweater was always an exercise in “holy god why doesn’t this match the schematic – tug, tug, push, push, fingers crossed please fit!”.

NOT fun.  Worth it for a great sweater, but not fun at all.

I didn’t realize all that, until I swatched without those pressures. First for my Alpha sweater, and now my for second:

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(Yarn: Foxhill Farm Cormo Cross 2-ply)

This time, I just got to take my yarn for a test spin.  See how I liked it.  It was really kind of cool…

I have been waiting to knit this up for 4 years now.  This swatch may look boring, but it’s some pretty special yarn: a Cormo cross from Foxhill Farm I bought at my first Rhinebeck post-kids.

I was home with the baby, I had only a small yarn budget, and I spent almost all of it on this yarn.  The deep natural chocolate is *perfect* and the unique fiber content makes it extra special.

This yarn is sproing-ey and soft, and produces a uniquely luscious but structured fabric.

(I know this now, because I swatched.  This makes me feel smart.)

Also purchased that Rhinebeck, to go with this yarn?

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(Buttons: Shipyard Point Glasswords, from Rhinebeck 2009)

The most fabulous buttons ever.

I have been wanting to knit this up for, well, forever.  (If you define forever as: almost 4 years now.  I do.)

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But this unique yarn, purchased at a festival from a small-scale producer, has limited pattern support.  I haven’t had the head space to retrofit an existing pattern for this yarn, or design one from scratch for myself.  So it’s been sitting in a drawer, slowing turning pleasure into guilt…

It was another big revelation that came from using CustomFit, that hit the core of what I knit and how I knit.

Everything that made it hard to use this yarn? Hard to swatch? Gone.

Swatching was fun.  I got to watch the fabric unfold and daydream about what sort of sweater it wanted to be.

I could use the yarn I love.  I’m not blocked from using festival yarn from an indie producer because of the lack of pattern support.

It was easy.  The only effort it required was knitting up a square, and then making the design choices.  (More on those this week.)

So.  As Michael Scott said best: It’s a Win, Win. Win.