Give a cheer if you love to knit gauge swatches. (Awkward silence.) Not a lot of joy comes from swatching before you start a knitting project, but if you don't want any unexpected surprises later, swatching is an essential part of the process.
Swatching involves more than just knitting up a square of fabric with a certain size needles to get a specific gauge. Even if it doesn't say so, pattern gauge is almost always given for fabric that has been washed and blocked. GASP! You need to measure your gauge AFTER your swatch has been washed and dried or blocked in whatever way the finished item will be cared for because your fabric could, and likely will, stretch, shrink or felt the first time it gets wet.
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