FO Friday 122 – I’m knitting a hat that doesn’t fit

Happy FO-Friday everyone!

Only last Wednesday I commented on a post about not liking gauge swatches with this picture:


Gauge – is it for wussies? (source)

It’s true, I don’t like swatching. But looking at my FO today I’m reminded again, why I usually do them anyways.

Because, if I don’t, I’ll be knitting a sweater that doesn’t fit. Or, in this case, a hat.

And I’m also reminded, why I should knit my swatch exactly the same way I’m planning to knit the whole garment (or accessory, or whatever). Because, if I don’t, I can swatch all I like – the gauge will be different when I knit the real deal. For example: If you want to knit a fair isle hat, don’t swatch in stockinette. Swatch in fair isle. Or don’t swatch at all and be prepared to suffer for it.


So, what do I have to remind myself of? Right. Swatch.

Not just when it’s a design you plan to sell. Not just for a commissioned knit. (In these cases, I’ll rather swatch thrice than having to recalculate for several sizes because I wanted to take a little shortcut.)

No, also swatch when it’s only a little bit of recreational knitting for yourself. Because you’re worth it. 🙂

So, what caused all that swatch-babbling? You guessed correctly: I’ve been knitting a hat that doesn’t fit over my big head. It’s been my first self-designed fair-isle pattern and I clearly underestimated the lack of elasticity in that form of knitting. Live and learn.

FI-Hat-02I still like the pattern and the colors, but I’ll have to find someone with a smaller head to give this one to. It would be a shame to waste this, because I used some of the yarn I dyed with plant dyes when I still was very much into historically correct tablet-weaving. There’s not much left of it and it shouldn’t just lie around in a drawer.


In this picture you can see how the pattern is supposed to look (in the upper band) as opposed to the way it looks when it’s stretched to it’s limits over my head (in the lower band).

What about you? Do you swatch and were you ever sorry for not doing so?  Have you a finished object to share (failed or fabulous)? I’d love to hear about it… Or just head over to Tami’s Amis (click the pic) and join the rest of the FO-friday crowd.


23 thoughts on “FO Friday 122 – I’m knitting a hat that doesn’t fit

  1. Pingback: Hats / Bonnets | Knitted Art

  2. Pingback: Gorros VIII | La Maison Bisoux

  3. I never swatch and (consequently) unravel if neccessary. Fortunately, my flower blankets, dolls, or monsters turn out pretty good most of the time 🙂 Love your hat!

  4. I think fair isle is one of those things that’s most likely to change your gauge significantly. Sorry you learned the swatch lesson the hard way (again, it sounds like), though! The hat is really pretty. :-/

  5. I won’t lie: I’m not a swatcher. I think thew few times I’ve actually bothered to make a swatch, it lied anyway. Most everything I make tends to fall really really close to the stitch gauge and you can always add length somewhere if you sit and think about it before jumping in blindly…which I wind up doing anyway 🙂

    Hmmmm. Maybe that’s why I stick to things that don’t usually need to worry about gauge too much…

  6. The hat is lovely. I’m so sorry it doesn’t fit.
    I will swatch for a sweater but not for socks or other small things. I am more than willing to rip out and start over and have on more occasions than I care to admit.

  7. I usually swatch but, if it’s fair Isle or another “in the round” project I’ll usually use the EZ method of making something small (yeah, like a hat or I’ll start the sleeve) to test the gauge. As others have noted, swatches sometimes lie and, in my opinion that happens more in some types of knitting than others (i.e. stranded). That said, your hat is beautiful!

  8. Gorgeous hat!
    I have to admit I never swatch. Probably because I usually knit shawls or scarfs etc. where swatching isn’t necessary (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself…). But I’m planning on making a swatch for a cardigan I wanna knit… as soon as I have found the right yarn 🙂

  9. Its a really nice hat btw. I don’t swatch, usually checking as I go along, if I think its really off I’ll rip out and start again. The one time I went to the effort of making a swatch, I spent ages changing needle size etc etc, only to have the item turn out massively too big as I decided no the swatch was correct thereby the cardigan should be ok. Really don’t know what is the correct way to jump!

  10. I love the colours, superb! Swatching *grumble grumble* We all know we *should* do it. Speaking of which, I tried on my (unswatched) Delphine when I got up to the underbust and so far, so good – I might squeak this one in.

    • Yay! It’s always great when it works out without swatching. Somehow it feels like an accomplishment. “I’ve beaten unsurmountable odds and bested the gauge-monster! All bow to the queen of Nonswatchia!”

    • I never did for years… but after I knit a wonderful cardigan with lots of complicated cables and that was 2 sizes too big, I decided to give swatching a try. But I still fall back into bad habits from time to time (and usualla am sorry for it).
      Do you frog and reknit something that doesn’t fit or do you have a “shelf of shame” (like so many others) where the unwearable FO’s go?

  11. I’ve accepted the need to swatch – not much is more frustrating than spending a month on something that’ll never see the light of day. However, I still find that sometimes gauge swatches lie, and I wind up having to rip and recalculate anyway. Heavy yarns/sweaters tend to be especially tricky like that.

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