I'm inserting a cute button I found here. I think it's funny.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Now back to gauge swatching....my sister turned me on to this nifty tool.
You line up your swatch on the right end and read the measurement on the top line to get your gauge. Now, the first time I did it with the recommended size needle, my swatch was too big. I have discovered that I can tend to knit loosely. I said to myself, "This is huge!" and ripped it out and went down a size of needle. Then I knitted that swatch and said, "This is just right!" I started knitting my sweater and after four rows, my sister called. "Did you wash your swatch?"
"NO, " I said.
"Well, you'd better."
So I did. Well, Mr. Perfect-sized Swatch shrunk a little. Which would mean that my sweater would fit my daughter's old American Girl doll possible better than it would fit her.
So last night I knit the swatch AGAIN with the original sized needle, washed my swatch ( a good soak in tepid water), squeezed it out, laid it on my table with a fan blowing on it. And guess what? It is perfect.
I learned a couple of things here:
1. Measure and record the size of swatch BEFORE and AFTER washing. You will learn something about the yarn that you should tell your friends on Ravelry.
2. Listen to your sister if she knits better than you.