I'm not one for swatching. I usually don't swatch at all. If something isn't working out I just rip it out and try a different needle or something to adjust for whatever problem I'm having. Needless to say I have done my fair share of ripping. Its not that I don't want to swatch, its just that my desire to knit the project now overcomes my thoughts of swatching anything. (knitting ADD)
A few years ago I watched an Elizabeth Zimmerman's DVD on knitting that I borrowed from the library. In it EZ knit a large swatch for gauge on the yarn she knit with the most often. She used one yarn, knit a few inches and switched to the next size needles, knit for a few inches, switched to the next size needles; she went on this way through quite a few sizes of needles. After she bound off her stitches she labeled each section with needle size and stitch count per inch. What she had made was a master swatch in stockinette of the yarn she knit
with most often in a selection of different size needles.
Hmm - a master swatch. . .
After I finished my "Totally Vanilla" socks I had more then enough yarn left to do a master swatch of my own in a fine weight yarn (LionBrand Sock - size 1). I started with a size "US 0" needles and worked my way up, through my sock needles, to size "US 7" (10 different sizes including half sizes). I separated each needle size with a row of purl. When I ran out of yarn I bound off my stitches and blocked the entire piece. I still have to label and count stitches per inch but I now have a master gauge swatch of fine weight yarn. This swatch is a great reference piece since a lot of patterns, even those written for fancy stitches, call for gauge in stockinette.
I am now stoked to do my next master swatch.
I think I'll use a worsted yarn, size 4 weight, like Cascade 220.