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Ellen Gill: How to use up your spare tension squares

Ellen Gill: How to use up your spare tension squares

Is your knitting habit beginning to result an abundance of tension squares? Blogger Ellen Gill has come up with a few handy ways to put them to good use…

All good knitters should make tension squares before starting a new project, especially if it’s a garment. It’s the only way to be sure you’re getting the same number of stitches per cm as the pattern you’re following.

But after a while, you may begin to notice a pile of squares building up around the house. Matching a pattern tension isn’t the only use for these squares. How about the following?

1. Emergency mending yarn

A flat square is a very convenient way of storing spare yarn should you need to fix your projects in the future. Just unravel it and mend away.

2. Toughness tests

If you’ve just splashed out on a lot of new and fancy yarn for a project, it’s always well worth seeing how much wear and tear the knitted fabric can take. Wash your swatch the way the final project will be washed to see what change it makes; give it a good rubbing against other fabrics to see how quickly fuzzy pills form on the surface; stretch it out and see how much it deforms. It may turn out your yarn choice is totally unsuited to the project, in which case you’ve saved yourself a lot of effort. Get in touch with your inner scientist and experiment on that swatch!

3. Trying out scary new techniques…

… Such as the scariest technique of them all: steeking, aka cutting straight through your knitting. Trying this out on a jumper would be inconceivable, but on a swatch it’s just inconsequential.

4. Patchwork

This one is for the advanced knitter with serious backlog of swatches. Why not see if you can sew or crochet those squares into a patchwork cushion or blanket? Crochet is particularly useful for joining squares, as you can add extra borders around squares that aren’t quite big enough to fit.

Read more from Ellen at

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