Up until a year ago, these were the parts of knitting I just hated. Well, not so much hated as just didn't do. But when I started doing stranded colorwork I had to get over this, and these days swatching is one of my favorite parts of knitting. A swatch is tiny and fast, and so full of potential ...you can swatch before you know whether you're swatching for a cowl or a sweater or a sweater with a crazy huge cowl neck or, I dunno, a refrigerator cozy. A swatch is a little tiny nugget of pure knitting fantasy.
What do you think this will grow up to be? I don't know yet, but I do know this: The book this came from, Barbara Walker's Charted Knitting Designs, is very dangerous. It's basically the Kama Sutra of knitting books: It will make you suddenly want to try, right now, things that never would've occurred to you otherwise.
These days (ie, the days near Christmas), I try to be a little more reliable than I usually am about sticking with one pattern until it's finished. (Okay, maybe two or three. But no more, seriously.) Swatching is a great way to relieve just a little of that monotony without getting myself totally off-track.
Blocking is satisfying for the exact opposite reasons. It has a finality to it. As someone who's terrible at finishing projects, I feel a massive sense of achievement every time I pin down a completed project to dry. (Hah! Take that, stupid procrastinating brain.) Not to mention ... it just looks nicer. Here's a scarf I finished a couple weeks ago; I'm not showing you the whole thing because shhh, it's a christmas present! I knit it from the bottoms up, blocked both ends, then knit a little more in the middle, grafted the two pieces together and blocked the whole thing again. I don't have before and after pictures, but I have in-between and after pictures:
Yes, that's right: I love blocking so much that I blocked this scarf twice. I wanted the two ends to be exactly the same length as each other, and the whole thing to be as close to 60'' as I could make it, so I blocked when I was most of the way done to get a better feeling for the final dimensions. Anyhow, isn't it amazing how blocking smooths things out so nicely?
What's your favorite weekend knitting?