Gauge is such an interesting issue. I do not like knitting swatches. I have never liked knitting swatches. 9 times out of 10, once I achieve gauge (if I have determined it matters), I frog the swatch and use it to start the project.
To compound this issue, I learned to knit 20 odd years ago English style. A little less then a year ago, I took a class on continental knitting and now I knit Continental. When I knit English, I have to go up needle sizes. Continental, I'm usually (75%) the needle size recommended.
Why gauge? Well, this came up last night at prayer shawl. Once a month, we get together and work on prayer shawls at church. One of the ladies, a new knitter/crocheter, was changing the size of a crocheted blanket from crib size to lap size. She was asking how many stitches to chain and what size hook. This developed into a whole conversation about gauge and what it was and that it wasn't really an issue for a blanket. So, she chained the number of stitches she was considering and then measured.
I think that my gauge is off for my shawl project. This of course may be hampered by the fact that I am not sure what the yarn weight is and what weight I considered it to be when I started in October. Oh well.
I was right on gauge for my Nubby Cardigan -- buttons have been procured and may be sewn on tonight, depending on how long it takes me to sort cookies and how long choir practice runs.