Well, I don't particularly like knitting swatches. I'm always afraid it will use up precious yarn and I'll be a cuff short on the sweater. I also buy an extra skein of whatever I'm knitting - so I have quite a stash of single skeins. It is perhaps fortunate that I like knitting toys and that I have so many children in my life.
HOWEVER. I recently completed a sweater for my granddaughter, Zora. I used the recommended needles and, for the first time in my life, the recommended yarn. I knit a tiny token swatch and discovered my knitting was a couple of stitches bigger than the gauge. A couple of stitches! She's a toddler! Who cares? I figured, at the rate I knit, it was better to go a little large.
It is a wonderful pattern and fun to knit. So I finished in record time and have one and one half skeins left over. I think she'll be wearing this when she's all grown up and 9 months pregnant!
I'm knitting a matching tiny gansey with the left over yarn and I have completed an amigurumi and a microtine rodent since. (known to lay people as a rat) When you knit toys gauge doesn't matter and you finish quickly. With a couple of quick successes under my belt, now I'm ready to start knitting a sweater for her cousin. Tahreq is 8 and isn't growing as fast as Zora. So I thought I'd check my gauge. The pattern calls for a size 3 yarn. I'm in love with Knit Picks Shine Sport yarn which is a 2. The pattern calls for size 7 needles and a gauge of 26 stitches to 4 inches. I'm on swatch number 4 and have moved all the way down to a size 3. I think this one will do it. At size four I was doing 27 stitches. I figure if I had actually purchased a size 3 yarn and used size 7 needles, I would have made a Paul Bunyan sweater. This tedious swatch thing is kind of important.