To begin your swatch use the needles suggested in the pattern, and please remember they are only a recommendation, a place to begin! Cast on the number of stitches necessary to make a 4”/10cm swatch, plus 6. Knit 3 rows. Always knit 3 garter stitches at the beginning and end of every row, and work straight in the pattern called for until the piece measures 4”, then knit 3 rows and bind off. Lay the swatch on a flat, smooth surface. Measure inside the garter stitch frame; you should have 4”/10 cm exactly. If your swatch is too big, or you have too few stitches per inch, change to a needle one size smaller, and repeat the process. If your swatch is too small, or there are too many stitches per inch, change to the next larger needles. Changing one needle size either up or down at a time and keep knitting swatches until you achieve the correct gauge. Eventually you will begin to know your knitting style; I personally start my swatch one needle size down from the recommended size, as I knit fast and loose. The number of stitches per inch or centimeter is the most important. If the row gauge is eluding you, you can adjust as you work through the pattern, but you may not have enough yarn. We all knit differently with various needles and yarns. Always do your gauge swatch with the exact needles you will be using for the specific project too…there can be a difference in gauge between plastic, metal or bamboo needles on the same yarn! Check your gauge again after working about 4 inches just to be sure you’re still getting the correct gauge.
You will be a happy knitter for life if you get the correct gauge!