WHAT IS A TENSION OR GAUGE SWATCH?
~Basically a square crocheted to determine the stitches, rows, look and feel over a set measurement, normally 10cm X 10cm (4inches X 4inches)
~Think of the tension (gauge) swatch, as not only a way of measuring but also a way to get a feel of the yarn you will be using.
WHY SHOULD I MAKE A TENSION (GAUGE) SWATCH?
~Most patterns will have a suggested tension or gauge. The designer has written the pattern so the finished item will be a certain size, look and feel. So its not just size affected by the wrong tension (gauge). ~Loose crocheting will hang (drape) differently and can look untidy.
~Tight crocheting may not only make an inflexible too firm fabric but when washed, because yarn absorbs water and swells making the fabric even tighter, this can cause damage and holes.
~If you are thinking about designing your own item/ s. Start getting into good design practice now, always make a tension (gauge) swatch.
HOW DO I MAKE A TENSION (GAUGE) SWATCH?
~Before you crochet sit in a chair with a cushion supporting your lower back. Relax. Have a notepad and pen ready in case you have a problem with the pattern or yarn. Also a good idea is to write yourself a note about how you liked/ disliked using the yarn. If you dislike the yarn making a swatch and have to make a large garment maybe it is better to plan a different project?
~If you are following a pattern it will give you the stitch or pattern repeat, the required hook size and the measurements. If a pattern has 20 stitches X 16 rows = 10cms (4inchs) DO NOT make your swatch 20 stitches wide add approx.4-6 stitches extra. The edge stitches always have a different tension to the main fabric, you should measure over the main part of the pattern not the edges. The same goes for the rows add a few extra rows so you are not including the start chain and last rows in your measurements.
Take time to read the pattern. You are now ready to make your swatch.
~If you are making a swatch for designing purposes it is always a good idea to make a much larger swatch, you can than see and feel the drape of the fabric . This will improve your design knowledge.