If there’s anything on earth that drives me batty, it’s inefficient use of time. I love it when I can find little ways of maximizing the time I spend on various tasks. Which is why I try, from the start, to think of different uses for my gauge swatches.
Before I get any further into this discussion, I want to make one thing clear: I do NOT think gauge swatches are a waste of time. No way! Especially if you’re making projects that need to fit somebody — gauge swatches are absolutely essential.
A lot of people simply unravel their gauge swatches when they’re finished and re-use the yarn — but that’s the kind of thing that I have a hard time doing. It seems like such a waste of effort, knowing that, with just a little creativity, that gauge swatch could be transformed into a useful project on its own.
Let me give you one example.
At the time I designed the necklace I submitted to Sharon Silverman’s lovely crochet pattern book called Delicate Crochet, I worked the usual no-bigger-than-necessary gauge swatch to start with. As I was packing the box up to send to Sharon, I was concerned that the inelastic cotton swatch might lose its shape in transit. So, I pinned the gauge swatch to some cardboard to help it stay crisp and hold its shape during its journey.
The act of pinning the swatch to the cardboard sparked an idea in my brain, because it reminded me of another project I’d recently been experimenting with where I stitched rectangles cut from plastic produce bags to crocheted rectangles to make scrubbies. It dawned on me that small cotton gauge swatches could easily be transformed into scrubbies too!
So, on this page, I’m going to show you how you can transform your small cotton gauge swatches into useful scrubbies that come in handy for washing dishes. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of additional effort beyond making the gauge swatch in the first place. It’s also a fantastic use for those failed gauge swatches you end up with sometimes — you know how you work a gauge swatch, only to discover that you missed getting the right gauge, and you have to start over? You can make each of those pieces into a scrubbie. So, even if you like to keep your gauge swatches and put them in a knitting diary or crochet diary, this is an idea you can make use of from time to time; just use it for the failed gauge swatches that serve no practical purpose after you’ve determined that you need to switch knitting needles or crochet hooks. (You can use either knitted or crocheted gauge swatches for this project; it makes no difference).
Gauge Swatch Scrubbie — Project Photo
Skill Level: Easy
- You’ll need a gauge swatch measuring about 5 inches square or smaller to use for transforming into a scrubbie. Gauge swatches bigger than this could make lovely dishcloths instead.
- A plastic produce bag in a color that harmonizes well with your gauge swatch. I’ve used a brilliant yellow produce bag that was originally made to hold organic lemons.
- Yarn or sewing thread in a color that matches either your gauge swatch or your produce bag
- Tapestry needle or sewing needle
- Square template (optional) that’s slightly smaller than your gauge swatch. If you’re a quilter, you might have one readily available. If not, you can make one out of cardboard, or skip the template and just wing it when you cut your produce bag down to size.
Your scrubbie will end up being roughly the same size as the gauge swatch you start with.
My project sample measures 4 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/4 inches high. Most of the time, gauge swatches are roughly square; but, since I prefer rectangular scrubbies over square ones, I unraveled a couple of rows from my gauge swatch so I could have a rectangle-shaped scrubbie. Feel free to do the same if you would rather have a rectangular scrubbie, too.
Cut a square or rectangular piece out of the produce bag that’s just slightly smaller than your gauge swatch. If your produce bag is thin, you might wish to cut more than one thickness to use together. My sample scrubbie consists of 6 layers cut from the produce bag in addition to the gauge swatch.
Thread your needle with either yarn or sewing thread. Either way works fine; I’ve tried it both ways, and both methods have tradeoffs. It’s easier to sew through all the layers with sewing thread, but the result is not as pretty. With the yarn, the look of the finished project is much more attractive, but the sewing is a little clumsier.
Stitch the piece(s) of the produce bag to the gauge swatch securely. I used whip stitch to accomplish this task; I recommend this stitch for this type of project, although you can feel free to use any suitable sewing stitch you like.
Voila! You now have a new scrubbie instead of a gauge swatch. How easy was that?!
How to Care for Your New Dish Scrubbie
If you’re careful, you can re-use this scrubbie many times. Rinse it thoroughly after each dish washing session to get as much goo as possible off of it. Then toss it in the washing machine with your other gentle-cycle laundry. You’ll want to dry it on a clothes line. Avoid putting it through the dryer; you can grab it out of your load of laundry before you put the rest of your clothes in to dry.
The scrubbie can also be hand washed in a bucket if you prefer.
So there you have it: That’s how to make a scrubbie out of a gauge swatch. I hope this idea is useful to you, and that you’ll be able to make many handy dish scrubbies to use in the future.
This page was last updated on 3/22/2019.