One question that I’m often asked (as someone who does a lot of seamless knitting), is how to do a gauge swatch for knitting in the round. I’ll admit, many times in the past I would do a ‘regular’ swatch (i.e., knitting back and forth), even when the project I was swatching for would be done in the round. But then one day I realized why it was so important. I was doing a cardigan and the body of the sweater was great. But then after doing a sleeve (in the round), I tried on the sweater and said “Why the heck are these arms so tight?!”. I double checked my math to make sure my upperarm circumference was sufficient (and it was). So then I got my measuring tape and learned that my in the round gauge was much tighter than my knitting flat gauge. Why is that? Well, apparently my purl stitches are much looser than my knit stitches. So this means that when I’m knitting back and forth (using knit and purl stitches), my stitch gauge will be looser than when I’m knitting in the round (only working knit stitches).
So that begs the question…how do you do a gauge swatch in the round? For this instruction we’ll assume you are doing a Stockinette stitch swatch.
- You will need to use either a circular needle or a DPN
- After you cast on and knit your first row, instead of flipping the work over and working a purl round like you would with a flat stockinette stitch swatch, you will push the stitches to the other end of the needle
- With your free needle, you’ll insert the tip into the first stitch. But wait–your working yarn is on the other end! So what do you do now?
- You’ll simply take your working yarn and drape it along the back of the swatch and start knitting with it on your next row. Now, you won’t want it to be too tight, so as you bring the yarn across the back, make sure there is some slack
You’ll repeat steps 1-2 until the swatch is the size you need.
- Before you block, you’ll want to cut the draped yarn in the back. Simply cut right up the middle
- Block and voila–you’ll have an accurate ‘knitting in the round’ swatch!