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Swatch Knitting

Updated on June 19, 2013
Various Swatches
Various Swatches | Source

What is a Swatch

A swatch is a section of knitting, usually in the shape of a square. It’s a tester or sample of the yarn or a knitting pattern. Usually someone will make a swatch when they are learning a new knitting technique.

An ambitious knitter can accumulate several stacks of swatches over time. Practicing and trying different knitting stitches, testing different needle gauges and yarn, swatches can add up fast.

What You Can Do With Them

My grandmother was an avid knitter. She didn't just knit a scarf, she knit a scarf with matching hat, sweater and socks! Her swatch pile was enormous. There would be two or three matching swatches, matching to a novice eye, but to a pro like herself, you could easily discern that each had something different about it. She may have used the same yarn but different needles or maybe a different knitting technique was applied.

When she passed away, my mother ended up with all these swatches in a multitude of patterns and colors. Two or three would match in yarn design. There was such a variety because they were testers, samples, a strip of practice, but my mother couldn't get rid of them.

After some thought my mother decided to assemble the macabre of swatches into a blanket and then knit them together as such.

As best she could, my mother laid out the swatches with complimentary colors next to each other and then knit them together.

Swatches | Source

My mother was so impressed by the stylish blanket that she decided to make another with swatches she had made over the years.

I still have those blankets my mother first knit together with grandmother’s swatches. We use it all the time, especially for a throw blanket when we watch movies on cold evenings.

This blanket is a great start for a beginner. Making the swatches keeps the beginner interested. The simple knit stitches and purl stitch is all that has to be used for the swatches and the color can be a fun variety to collect. Try it yourself!


Any bulky weight yarn

Size 10 needles (or size needed to obtain gauge)


Loosely cast on 12 stitches; if you prefer larger swatches then add more stitches when casting on. If knit by these instructions, will render a swatch approximately 4.5” by 4.5”. Remember to add equivalent rows as to stitches. So, if you decide to cast on 15 stitches, then knit 15 rows.

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 12 rows.

Cast off and secure end.

You’ve completed your first swatch!

Depending on the size of blanket you wish to knit will determine how many swatches to knit. For a blanket that measures approximately 5’ when complete you would need to 12 swatches measuring 4.5” each. When you add the stitching that holds the squares together it measure approximately 5”. So, your equation will be:

60 inches = 5 feet, then 60 inches/5 inch swatches = 12 swatches.


Length in feet converted to inches: ? inches = ? feet, now take the result and divide it by the size of the swatches, ? inches/?inch swatches = # of swatches.

To figure how many swatches you will need all together determine how long you want the blanket to be in inches; 5 foot blanket = 60 inches, then divide that number by the size of your swatches; 60 inches/5 inch swatches and then multiply the number of swatches in the first equation (12 swatches) times the number in your second equation (12 swatches) and you arrive at the total number of swatches needed to complete the blanket 144 swatches.

Adjust the numbers according to the size you want to make the blanket and the size of the swatches you will knit.

Once you have all the swatches you need, lay them out in the pattern you want for the blanket. Starting at one of the corners stitch the squares together with either a black yarn or a yarn that matches all the squares. Black works well because it matches most any color.

After stitching your squares together you can sew a backing if you so desire. A backing is good for a baby blanket. It reduces the change the baby will get its fingers or toes caught in the knitting.

Your blanket is done!


Submit a Comment

  • Msmillar profile image

    Joanna 5 years ago from Valley Springs

    Thank you Sushma! I've already started a pile of swatches! Knitting relaxes me, so I do a lot of knitting just before bed.

    I'm so excited, I have internet access at home now, so I'll be able to browse everyone's hubs now!

  • Sushma Webber profile image

    Sushma Webber 5 years ago from New Zealand

    Loved your article especially about preserving your grandmother's swatches by your mum creating a blanket. I too will try and make swatches before doing a project. Thanks for this information.

  • Msmillar profile image

    Joanna 5 years ago from Valley Springs

    Hi AudreyHowitt - I know right! I'm getting close to enough swatches from my own practicing to make a blanket of my own. I'm torn between knitting mine onto grandma's and making it a tradition or making my own blanket. Maybe I'll do both!

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

    I love the idea of knitting together your grandmother's swatches--