Over at the OKC group at Ravelry, Jenean brought up the question of what to do with gauge swatches. It's hard for some of us to persuade ourselves to even knit swatches. I find it torture when I want to dive right into a new project to have to start instead by knitting at 4 x 4" square. (And maybe more than one, if the gauge isn't right on the first attempt.)
But let's assume we all actually knit swatches, as we should for most of our projects. What do we do with the little masterpieces once we're through with them?
I know that I've always been loath to throw them away. They're sort of nice to touch and look at. And they represent effort. But I can't recommend what I do with them--I cram them into the purse organizer that holds my hibernating knitting projects. Surely there's a better way.
I guess the answer is to examine why you keep the gauge swatch. If, as Jenean suggested, it's because you might use the same yarn with the same needles again, and you want to avoid having to re-knit your swatch, then keeping it makes sense. But it's imperative, in that case, to identify your little swatch. You need to indicate the yarn and needles used. Otherwise it's useless. But then what do you do with it?
A three-ring binder with sheet protectors makes sense to me. You could use secure sheet protectors to keep the swatch from falling out of the top of the notebook. Another thought would be a fisherman's worm binder (which is how I store my circular needles). Still another idea would be to put them in ziploc bags and store them in boxes or bins. You could also affix them to your knitting-project journal, but that'd make for a pretty lumpy journal.
Pondering this has made me question whether I should be keeping them at all. Do I just throw them away? I suppose I could stitch them together and make a little blanket for my cat to snuggle in. (Hey, that's not a bad idea!) The truth of the matter is that I've never referred to a gauge swatch after the project was over, so I think it's time for me to either think of a way to reuse them (my cat, Joe, who is supervising me as I write this, votes for the gauge-swatch-kitty-bed idea) or toss them.
In the Ravelry thread, Suzanne made the very good point that you should at minimum keep the gauge swatch until the project is finished, in case you run out of yarn and need to unravel it.
I'm making a vow to myself (and a note in my calendar) to do something about or with my collection of swatches before the end of March.
How about you? Do you keep your gauge swatches? If so, why? And what do you do with them? If you don't keep them, have you ever regretted it?