Let's talk about that awful six-letter word: SWATCH.
Generally speaking, I do not swatch for anything. Ever. I guess you could say that I like to fly by the seat of my pants and the worst thing that happens is that I have to rip something out. Boo-hoo, whaa-whaa.
I've made a few mistakes by not doing a proper swatch. I've had to rip out a couple false starts to a couple different socks. I've altered patterns on the fly because I didn't swatch (yes, I'm looking at you, Little Man's Vest). And sometimes, things just don't turn out and get totally frogged. Oh well.
It's a fact of life when you live on the edge and don't swatch.
But, friends, let me tell you a dirty little secret: I swatched last night. Okay, so I didn't do a full, proper swatch because I didn't wash, block, and dry said swatch but since I'm not doing lace, I don't have to pull it into a specific shape.
Let me say that again in case you missed it: I swatched...for an actual project.
I've had a major case of Startitis since finishing my Icarus Shawl (which has not been blocked yet, just for the record) and I've started (and finished) some projects but I've decided that I just don't have enough going on and it's time to start a big project.
Sooooooo.......I looked at my Self-Imposed Year of Projects list and decided that it was time to start my Freeport Vest. I've had the yarn for about a year and a half and it was on my list last year and it just didn't happen. But, I want it and it's time. I pulled out the yarn the other day, went and purchased somewhat appropriate needles (more on that in a mo), and spent some time yesterday winding yarn into balls.
I have thirteen skeins of Malabrigo Chunky for this vest. Yes, I realize I probably over-purchased but I wanted to make sure I'd have enough. The pattern calls for US #10 (6 mm) and US #10.5 (6.5 mm) needles and 3.5 sts x 5 rows per inch on the larger (in stockinette). I pulled out my new needles, the smaller ones in this case, cast on 20 stitches, and knit for awhile in stockinette. I have a small ball of yarn from one of my bigger balls where I found a knot toward the end. So, I just separated it into a big ball and a tiny ball. Anyway, I finished that and took out my handy-dandy tape measure. Keep in mind that I was using the smaller of the two needles.
I'm glad I swatched. I am very close to gauge on the smaller needles (3.75 sts x 5 rows per inch). For shits and giggles, I swatched on the larger needles. Yeah...my gauge was something like 2.4 sts x 3.5 rows per inch. Not happening. I had to go on a quest for smaller needles, specifically a US #9 (5.5 mm). Luckily, I was able to find one and I made a gauge swatch with that. My gauge was smaller and a bit more reasonable for being the smaller needle.
I think I'm glad I swatched for this...