I knit tiny swatches. They’re usually about 2″ square. I’ve just never bought into the idea that you need a 4″ or 6″ square to check gauge accurately. Maybe it’s just that I’m cheap, but I’ve never had any problems checking gauge and stitch patterns over 1.5″ and then converting. Sometimes, I don’t even check the gauge at all, since I’m always so close to the listed gauge for every yarn, and it just doesn’t matter that much for some things. Of course, this leaves me with lots of little squares of knit fabric that got lost in my stash with astonishing regularity, and were always unlabeled. Enter the index cards.
A 3×5 card is the perfect size to hold one of my little swatches (or 2, if I’m testing a couple of different stitch patterns) and my notes on what yarn it is, what needles I knit the swatch(es) on, and what the measured gauge is. I can even paper clip the ball band to the card when I finish the ball. Then they get stacked together and tossed in a box, where I can flip through them whenever I need to look up care instructions or check what the original gauge was.
I just cut a 1.5″ square piece of muslin or other scrap fabric and staple it to the top of the card. I make my notes, and pin the swatch to the muslin. This way, I can remove the swatch whenever I need to examine it more closely. For things that I don’t swatch, I still note the gauge that the finished item ended up with, and I pin on the trimmings after I weave in the ends.
It’s working pretty well so far. I’m going to need to pick up more index card boxes eventually, because the swatches and paper clipped bands are thick, and I need to figure out how I’m going to organize things. Should I order them alphabetically by yarn manufacturer? By yarn weight or gauge? By color, fiber, date, or how much yarn remains?
Regardless of that, my latest consideration is my pointe shoe covers. I’m putting the pattern together like a top down sock, but I’ve never knit a sock before. I don’t know how I managed to knit for 16 years of my life and never even cast on for a sock, but that’s how it goes. I bought some worsted weight Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks, and the gauge, of course, works out exactly as it’s supposed to on the recommended needles, but now I’m afraid that I don’t have enough. With that in mind, and considering the fact that I’ve never encountered a heel gusset before and I haven’t done short rows in several years, I’m going to knit up a test pair in some Caron One Pound cheap acrylic. The swatch for that, on a smaller needle to get a tighter fabric, is on the far left in the photo above.
I’m making them large, with no calf shaping, so they’re bulky and warm over the ankles and can fit over my pointe shoes. I’m looking at cable panels for the front and back of the boot, and some intricate cabling to go down the side and split half to the instep and half to the heel flap. I’m just glad that with this yarn cabling without a needle isn’t a problem! My Cornflower Cowl was an exercise in patience with the slippery yarn on fast Addi Turbos.
My fuzzy pants are on hold until I get a JoAnn shipment with some woolly nylon.