Skipping the gauge swatch is a bad idea for most projects.
I was in a rush to knit the Baby Hat by Leigh Radford. It had been sitting in my mental queue for a long time. For months I would flip through the One Skein book just before falling asleep, picking out all of the patterns that I was most anxious to try. The Baby Hat was high on that list. And I promised myself I would start it as soon as I finished some other projects (daugher's Christmas stocking, husband's hat, the list seemed Oh so long).
Finally it was time to start the hat (not that I'd finished those other projects, but hey, who cares?). I picked the same yarn listed in the pattern but in a beautiful blue to enhance my daughter's eyes. When I measured my baby's head her's measured one inch larger than the largest hat's size. Back to the yarn shop to ask their advice. Would this hat fit my baby's head if the finished product was an inch smaller than her head? Yes, they said go ahead and start knitting.
I figured that I wouldn't bother myself about the gauge swatch since I'm a loose knitter and the largest size of the hat might already be a little too tight for my daughter right? So I'd might as well not worry about it. That's how I justified my "just get started right away" attitude. And that was my downfall!
I knit and re-knit the lace section many times. (More on that in another post, but for now see previous post about small projects not always being equivalent to easy projects.) And then I made it to the end. I pulled the yarn through the last stitch and quickly put it on my babe's head. The color was lovely, but the hat sat low on her neck and covered her eyebrows. When I showed my husband he said "Can you just fold up the brim?". It now has a permanent home in my drawer of mis-matched socks and other odds and ends.
I still have plans to knit this hat, version II. I even have the yarn stashed in my drawer. I'll be sure to update here when I've started it.