Your gauge swatches serve an important function in crochet (or knitting.) They help you to create projects that will end up being the size you expect them to, and to ensure that projects will be usable.
However, when your projects are finished, your gauge swatches are no longer needed for their original purpose. You can then re-purpose them in other ways. Here are some ideas:
Unravel Your Gauge Swatches and Re-Use the Yarn.
Usually, you can reclaim the yarn from your gauge swatches simply by unraveling each swatch. There are exceptions; eyelash yarn sometimes doesn't unravel nicely, and sometimes if you've crocheted a small swatch of a striped pattern, the short bits and pieces of yarn are not worth reclaiming. But if your gauge swatch was crocheted using a smooth yarn and it's all one color, you can get back quite a bit of yarn just by unraveling the swatch.
There are plenty of scrap yarn patterns available; these patterns enable you to utilize even small bits and pieces of yarn -- perfect for reclaiming the yarn you get when you unravel a gauge swatch. We invite you to take advantage of these free patterns!
See Also: Ideas for using leftover yarn
Make Gauge Swatches Into Larger Projects When Enough of Them Accumulate.
You can use your gauge swatches to create scrap afghans (AKA "scrapghans,") scrap bags, and all kinds of other projects if you apply a little creativity.
See Also: How to join crocheted pieces -- Joining squares neatly is the secret to a successful scrap project made out of gauge swatches. If you can do a good job with joining a mishmash of squares together, the rest is easy. It's sort of like putting a puzzle together. The task can be a little challenging, but it's an enjoyable process and the results can be really satisfying.
Pictured at left, you can see a couple of swatches being joined using whip stitch.
The Swatch Could Be Used for a Coaster, Dishcloth, or Washcloth, Etc.
Is your gauge swatch made of wool? If it is large and thick enough, it could be used as a hot pad or potholder. If it isn't thick enough on its own, you could consider "fulling" it -- some people refer to this as "felting it -- by tossing it in the washing machine, then in the dryer, to stiffen, thicken and shrink it.
Is your gauge swatch made of acrylic? If so, it won't make a good potholder or washcloth, but you might be able to use it as a dishcloth or coaster, depending on the stitch pattern.
Gauge Swatches Make Great Doll Blankets.
You can give your squares to your kids / grandkids or any children who enjoy playing with dolls; the swatches can be used for doll blankets and rugs.
See Also: Crocheting for fashion dolls
Donate Your Gauge Swatches to Charity.
Believe it or not, there are people out there who accept donations of squares and swatches. Often, they turn these bits and pieces into useful items, typically blankets, and give them to people who need them. Here are some ideas for how to help others by simply mailing off your swatches and squares:
The Knit-A-Square Group -- These people ask that you send them squares for use in projects that will be given to orphaned children.
The Granny Squares of Love Group -- Another group asking for donations of squares.