A Lace Gauge Swatch

After the wonderful experience I had with blocking my Queen Silvia shawl, I was eager to being my next lace project: the Triangular Summer Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia.  I decided that this time I would make a gauge swatch and block it before I began my shawl.  I had made gauge swatches before, but I had never blocked one because I was always too impatient to begin my project.  I figured that since everyone recommends it, it must be important.

In an evening I knitted my gauge swatch according to the pattern directions.  I soaked it in the sink for half an hour.  I laid it on the spare bed and pinned it to the measurements specified in the pattern.  It was so pretty.  I left it pinned in place all night.  The next morning I unpinned it but did not measure it yet.  Knitting tends to relax and shrink a little after it is unpinned, so I wanted to give it time for this to happen.  The next day I measured it, and it was the perfect size.  I now knew that the size needles and yarn I was using were perfect for the pattern.
I know some people like to save their gauge swatches, but I am very frugal about yarn, so I decided to unravel mine.  It was hard to unravel something so pretty, but I knew my shawl would be even prettier.  The unraveled yarn was very crimped, so I soaked it in the sink to relax it and then set it out to air-dry.
After it dried it was still a little bit crimped, but much easier to work with.  I loosely wound it into a center-pull ball so I could begin knitting my shawl.
In addition to making sure that my shawl will turn out the right size, the gauge swatch also gave me practice on the pattern stitch, so that I will be completely comfortable with the pattern when I begin my shawl.  Now that I have seen the benefits of proper gauge-swatching, I think I will do it more often.