Swatching in circles

To swatch or not to swatch, that is the question.
The answer in many many cases is “yes – you should”.
Don’t worry, I won’t spend this time trying to lure you over to the side of pro-swatchers. Today I want to talk about swatching in the round.
When you are knitting a project in the round it is imperative you test swatch in the round too.  I am sorry to say that this is something I did not learn, till later in my knit-life.  It seems that the difference in our tensions from flat knitting to circular knitting can be extreme! Extremely extreme!
So if you are about to knit a project that requires you to knit in rounds then follow these steps to make a swatch.

1.  Using the needles you would like to knit with (these will be either circular or double pointed needles) cast on stitches sufficient enough for a swatch.  It is desirable to have at least 10cm to measure, since most gauges are given over 10cm. If my swatch is for a stocking stitch fabric I like to do a little boarder of garter stitch so that the swatch won’t curl as much when I am trying to measure, but this is optional. Work your first row.


2.When you get to the end of the row drag your stitches to the other needle point. Don’t turn your piece to the other side!


3. Leaving a long stretch of yarn flopping across the back or the knitting, work into the stitch you have positioned near the tip of the needle (the first stitch in the previous row).


Repeat steps 2 and 3.  Eventually you will get something that looks like this on the back side.  You see how it is important to keep those runs at the back as long as possible so your swatch can lie flat for measuring.


Once the swatch is blocked many people, myself included, will snip the long runs at the back before measuring.  This is usually more accurate and you can get a better feel for the fabric you’ve created that way.


Now go ahead and measure.

Of course there are other ways to swatch in rounds.  Some folks prescribe knitting a hat first (when I say some people I mean Elizabeth Zimmerman).  Others will start a sleeve and and call it a swatch.

If you are joining us at the Sock Master Class, please make a swatch in the round before class.  Sock Masters will be making their socks using their gauge to calculate the size, so you will need a proper swatch.

Sock Master Class
Thurs June 6, 13, 20, 7-9pm

Call 416 533 5648 to register

If you are interested in swatching (and who isn’t?) I really like what Robin Hunter has to say on the matter in her blog How to become a Professional Knitter. I’ve only recently discovered her blog, but have since enjoyed very much reading about what fellow knitters do, and how they do it.  Perhaps you will too.

Craftily yours

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