I have swatched. I always feel like a very good knitter and also a very good person when I swatch. I mostly swatch for adult sweaters and cardigans and since I almost never knit that, I rarely swatch. I figure that as long as I pick a shawl project that requires more than 400 meters of yarn, I’m good and the shawl won’t turn out too small. For baby sweaters, I usually pick a size that is a little bigger than the intended baby and I just go with it. It spices things up a little but I’ve never had any major problems. With sweaters though, I’ve learned the hard way that is’t best to swatch even if it’s boring. However, a swatch might tell you that you can go down a size, which is always nice (it’s little less nice when the swatch tells you to move up a size). I don’t really try out with different needle sizes, as long as I like the fabric I’m going with it and then I either change the size of the garment that I make or I do a little math.
The swatch above worked perfectly with the stitch gauge but not with the row gauge so I’ll have to keep that in mind when I knit. Project no. 300 is a fact!