when i was a new knitter (eons ago!) i thought swatches were a waste of time..
now i know better!
swatches serve several purposes.. 1 being gauge, but they also allow you to practice/learn the pattern.
get some cotton and make a few face cloth/wash cloths with the pattern
first make a plain square one.. then a diagonal one..
LEARN the LACE pattern on something that doesn't matter, that is easy to frog, that has fewer stitches..
then stitch mastered, make the sweater (shell, top, what ever!)
Don't knit, make mistakes and frog your real ($$$) yarn, make the mistakes in the cheap cotton... (and have lots of face cloths--(when package with a nice soap, and some hand/body lotion, they make great christmas presents.. so they aren't just waste of time swatches.. they are useful and practical!)