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Swatch City

August 13, 2012

Hi, Knitters!

Are you dreaming about cooler days? Ready for some autumn inspiration? Join in this month’s knitalong, and make the new Chinese Lantern Hat with me! I’m Neighbor Elizabeth, and, starting today, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be here to help you each step of the way, beginning with one of the most important steps – the dreaded gauge swatch.

Completed swatch viewed from the front…

…and from the back!

Nobody likes this step. It seems like a terrible waste of time, yarn, and, honestly, it’s boring, right? I feel your pain, really, I do, but I make them anyway, because there are some big benefits!

  • A chance to work with this yarn, in this particular stitch pattern, and to develop a sense of both. Practice makes perfect!
  • The finished swatch is a visual reference for the correct gauge. Whenever in doubt, it can be compared to what is currently being knit.
  • Needle sizes can be adjusted prior to cast-on. This should save the frustration of re-knitting a project because the finished dimensions were off.

Case in point: I was knitting my own gauge swatch on my trusty size 8 needles, just like I’ve done twice before for this very same hat, except, today, and who knows why, my gauge was too tight. Rrrrip! Out it came, and I tried again on size 9s. Perfect! I can now change my needle sizes to: US7, US9, and US 10½, before I actually cast on for the hat. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you…

Let’s get started on the gauge swatch!


  • Your favorite color of Spud & Chloë Outer yarn (I’m using the new color, Rhino, #7220)
  • US size 8 (5 mm) knitting needles (your choice of: long, straight needles, a circular needle long enough to work with flat, or, my personal favorite, a set of interchangeable needles with size 8 tips).
  • A ruler, or other device for measuring gauge
  • A copy of the Chinese Lantern Hat pattern, available here.

List of Abbreviations

  • CO – cast-on
  • BO – bind-off
  • sts – stitches
  • Rep – repeat
  • K1b – knit into the front of the stitch located one row below the current row. (See photos.)

K1B Step 1: Insert your needle into the row below.

K1B Step 2: Wrap your yarn around the needle as you usually do.

K1B Step 3: Proceed to pull the new loop forward.

K1B Step 4: Drop the stitch off the left needle.

Half Fisherman’s Rib Gauge Swatch

CO 17 sts.

Row 1: K1, *K1, P1. Rep from * to last 2 sts. K2.

Row 2: K1, *P1, K1b. Rep from * to last 2 sts. P1, K1.

Rep Rows 1 and 2 12 times more. 26 rows total have been knitted.

BO all sts purlwise.

Finished swatch should measure approximately 5 ¼” square. (Perfect for an extra-large mug ;).)

Measuring for Gauge

Before you check your gauge, tug at the sides of the swatch to allow the “floats” created by the K1b stitches to settle in place. Then, just let it relax, and count the number of stitches and the number of rows in 4″.

Stitch Gauge: 12 ½ sts = 4″

Row gauge: 20 rows = 4″

For this hat, it is not necessary to block your swatch, but, if desired, soak swatch in lukewarm water and roll in a towel to remove excess water. Gently form it back into a square without stretching it too much. The size should not vary significantly from the finished dimensions when dry. This is all the information you need to make your very own mug mat, I mean, gauge swatch! Don’t forget, if you need help, you can find me answering questions over at the Friends of Spud & Chloë Group on Ravelry. (I’m kittyli over there.)

Happy Knitting!

~ Neighbor Elizabeth

Up Next

The Kitchener Rib Cast-On using a Crochet Chain, which will forever put an end to the question “How do they get that ribbed edge to look like that?”

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