How to knit a colour pattern
If you have ever read a knitting pattern that is supposed to be a certain size, you have probably seen a list of knitting thickness and a note saying that you should check your thickness before you start.
The way to determine your strength is to knit a color pattern. Although many knitters hate to do this because they prefer to knit, it’s really important to do this if you want to knit things at the right size.
Start with the yarn you want to use for your project and the needles needed in the pattern. (Or, if you are playing with only one yarn, the needles needed on the ball band).
Knit a pattern that you think is big enough to get a square of about 15 cm. It does not have to be perfect, but most gauges are based on 10 cm (4 inches). So you want at least that much to work.
When you have finished your pattern, tie it off and wash it the same way you wash the finished garment, whether by hand or machine. (Yes, this is an important step, because the yarn behaves differently after water has been added). Let it dry.
Take your finished pattern and lay it flat on a table or the floor. Select a point to measure and mark this point with a straight pencil if you need help recognizing the stitches. Mark 10 cm with a tape measure or ruler and count the number of stitches. Use the same procedure to count the number of lines.
Compare these numbers with the numbers shown in your pattern. If you are exactly right, congratulations and start knitting. If you have more stitches per inch than the pattern requires, it means that your stitches are too small. Try again with the next larger needle.
If you have fewer stitches per inch than the pattern requires, your stitches are too large. Make another color field with the next smaller needle.
If your color pattern is more than one or two stitches per inch away, the yarn you selected may not match the pattern well. Not every yarn can be used for every pattern. Therefore, you may need to look for another pattern that fits your yarn better.
Length measurement is not as critical as the number of stitches per inch for most projects because you can always adjust it by knitting more or fewer rows to your liking. The number of stitches per inch plays an important role in sizing, unless you are knitting a project from one side to the other.
Skipping the color field
If you are not concerned about the finished size of your project, skip the color field. Projects like scarves, baby blankets, shawls, and bedspreads don’t have to be exactly the right size, so you can probably skip this step.
If you’re making everything that fits, from a hat to a baby shoe to a sweater, it’s worth taking the time to make a color swatch so you know your size is perfect.