I did a bunch of swatching this past weekend.
I actually kind of like swatching, but I have to be in the mood. I don't feel guilty swatching even when I'm trying to be faithful to my current, on-the-needles projects, so it lets me get a break from the current yarns. Plus, I had a lot of things I was trying to figure out here, and so far, I like most of the answers I've gotten.
The olive-y green in the back is Jo Sharp DK Wool that I'd picked up in Santa Barbara for a cardigan of my own design. It doesn't really matter what gauge I get, just that the gauge make a fabric that I like. I swatched it with US #6s and, not entirely to my surprise, I think that's too large. I am fairly sure I knit on the looser side of average, as I often have to drop down 1-2 needle sizes for patterns. I also tried out some moss stitch, which I'm planning to use as decoration on the sweater. I don't think it stood out prominently enough. So the next swatch will be with size US #5s, and I'll put a border of purl stitches around the moss stitch section. I love this yarn and am really itching to make the cardigan, which I'll doubtless wear to shreds.
On the upper right, the curly, unblocked swatch is the Katia Irina you saw me buy the other day. I will put it in the wash — I still can't quite believe this is machine washable! — and hang dry, then check the gauge. It's for baby things and I don't really need a particular gauge, I just need to KNOW the gauge, and get an idea if there is going to be any shrinkage.
The pink/white swatch is the dusty rose-colored cotton 'thread' I got on those big spools, doubled and knitted with some Jewel Unger I got off DeStash. It is cotton and ?I think rayon, it's at home so I can't check, and it's definitely mislabeled for gauge — I thought it was sport to DK weight, it calls for US #6s and 6spi, but it's definitely around fingering weight and kind of like shiny string. It mixes well with the pink but I don't think there's enough of it to make a sweater. Elinoire, for whom the yarn is intended, is thinking of mixing it with a darker color rather than lighter, anyway.
The brown swatch is making me all bouncy. This is that wool I got in a screaming deal from Webs. I tried swatching it in US #8s and then US #7s, then washed and blocked it as I normally would. I have fallen in love with the Sienna Cardigan (towards bottom of page) from the latest Interweave Knits, and really want to use this wool for it. As I was knitting up the swatch, though, I thought, "this pattern calls for US #9s and it really looks like I'm getting gauge with the 8s and I don't like knitting with the 8s,the yarn feels better with the 7s." To my delight, when I washed and blocked it, it bloomed and softened and got all happy (the yarn was kind of stringy to knit with, though not extremely so), and it turned out I was perfectly on gauge (4 spi) with the 7s and off (3.75) with the 8s. Yay, 7s!