What the Felt: Swatch Stories, Part 2

Felted BeforeAfter3In this post, I’ll continue to tell the story behind the swatches in the development of my upcoming book, What The Felt: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Felted Crochet. CLICK HERE to read part 1.

Designers often advise crocheters against skipping the swatch when beginning new projects, and I am no exception. When I begin a new project, ninety-nine percent of the time I start with a swatch. There are certainly projects in which swatches are non-essential. After all a lot of us can wing it when it comes to easy things like scarves, cowls and maybe even hats. But trust me when I say this…. Felting, whether crocheted or knitted, should NEVER be undertaken without swatching. In fact, if you read the first post in this series, you’ll know that I usually recommend more than one swatch so you can make comparisons.Felted BeforeAfter1

Take a look at the photos above and to the right. Each one shows a set of two swatches worked in Brown Sheep Lanaloft with the same number of stitches and rounds. One swatch shows us what the stitch pattern looks like before felting, while the other shows us the results after a couple of passes through my washing machine. So what did I learn from these swatches? First, I was able to determine the gauge before AND after felting. From there I was able to use a mathematical formula to calculate the gauges as a ratio. This in turn helped me to figure out what my before-felting dimensions had to be in order to obtain the after-felting dimensions I want in the finished project.

Without two swatches, making these crucial calculations would be pretty difficult. But why are they so important in the first place? It’s simple. Stitches and rows are not created equal. Some are shorter, taller, wider, narrower, lacier and/or more solid than others. And when it comes to felting, you just can’t assume you know how they will react to friction and hot soapy water. You have to see the results with your own eyes and feel it with you own hands.

The great thing about What The Felt: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Felted Crochet is that I do all the hard work! Although I’m including a section in the book which details the process of taking gauge measurements and making calculations, the patterns will have the tough math done for you. All you’ll have to do is match the stated gauge in the patterns, and you’re off!

Want to know what these swatches will become? Stay tuned for more sneak peeks from my upcoming book. But you don’t have to wait to get felty. Sign up now to download my free mini-guide to felted crochet, Crochet Never Felt Better. Or follow me on instagram for more yarn and swatch previews.