I love knitting dishcloths. I'm not big on long, drawn–out projects like afghans or sweaters. I much prefer the instant gratification of a 9½–in. square that I can produce while watching a bad movie on TV.
I like practicing interesting patterns. About the time I finish a dishcloth is the time I get terribly bored with a pattern. ADD much? The diamond pattern is just knits and purls. The heart pattern is made up of increases and decreases. I'm constantly amazed at how few stitches produce such different patterns.
While I've never worried about matching gauge when knitting a dishcloth before, I realized I was creating veritable sheets instead of neat 9½–in. squares. The pattern calls for size 7 needles, which I just blindly used. So I tried the diamond pattern again with size 5 needles. The resulting cloth is still wider than the pattern by almost an inch. Apparently I knit loosely. Like, really loosely. How can anyone get 5 stitches to the inch using size 7 needles? It's time to figure out this gauge business.
I know enough to know I need to move down to even smaller needles to make gauge. But how small can I go? Off to find out, even though the thought of swatching for a dishcloth gives me the shakes. Does anyone really like swatching for gauge?