One of my Maryland Sheep and Wool purchases was four skeins of I Love Yarn's Sport/DK weight 100% Rayon in a lovely green/blue/gray colorway with the intention of making myself a nice tank top or shell.
I did swatches on US Size 6 (4.0mm) and 7 (4.5mm) and blocked both of them. Even though the swatches are on the small size, the one done on 7's definitely has a better drape than the one done on 6's and since drape is something that I really want for this project I'm definitely going to stick with the 7's for my project.
Usually one starts with a specific pattern in mind before swatching, but I have quite a few obstacles in place. The first, is that I had no suggested needle size for this specific yarn and since they really only sell it online and at Maryland Sheep and Wool, there is next to no info out there on it. My next obstacle is my size - not only am I plus-sized, but I also have a very large bust so there are very few (if any) patterns out there written for women my size. So what's a gal to do? Design her own!
I had a decent idea of what I wanted to do - a solid portion over the bust with a lacy bottom that gently flared out. My swatches reflect that - I did a stockinette portion on the top with a simple lace pattern on the bottom and worked an increase row on the lace as well to see how it would act. I mentioned above that I really should have made the swatches larger to get a better feel of the drape, but I was impatient so I have smallish ones (these were done the night I got home from MDS&W).
Swatching can be a real PITA, but it's vitally important if you want your hours and hours of work to result in a garment that fits. Another thing you may be tempted to do is skimp on the size of your swatch, but you really should be aiming for at least a 6" square to get the best feel for your yarn and the resulting fabric. There will be lots of times where you can get away with a smaller swatch, but when you are making significant alterations to a pattern or starting from scratch you'll need that swatch to have the best idea of how the knit fabric is going to act.
In the next post, I'll talk about measurements and the chesty girl's best friend - bust darts!