Monday, March 14, 2005

Swatching for Circular Knitting

By now most of you have your pattern, yarn, and needles and are in the process of swatching.

To measure your gauge, lay your swatch flat on a table. Resist the urge to pull it into shape! Lay a ruler on the swatch, lining up the left side of one of the "V"s of your knitting with one of the inch markers on the ruler. DO NOT press down on the ruler or tug on the swatch! Count how many "V"s there are in four inches - if there is half of a "V" at the end count it also. Check the gauge information on your pattern - if you have less stitches per inch, try again with smaller needles. If you have more stitches per inch than the gauge is asking for, try again with lager needles.

Because we are knitting from the top down, the row gauge (how many rows per inch) that is given in some patterns is less important - you will be able to adjust the length as you go. Unfortunately, the only way to change the row gauge is to change yarns.

If you are knitting a cardigan, you will be working in stockinet (knit on the public side, purl on the back) so you can do a flat swatch. Patterns usually give a gauge of "x" number of stitches per 4 inches or 10 centimeters. You will want to knit a gauge swatch of at least six inches by six inches so you will be able to measure a 4x4 section in the middle. The sides and ends of you swatch will be slightly distorted so always make your swatch larger than the area you want to measure.

If you are knitting one of the pullovers, you will need to swatch in the round because you will be knitting in the round. Usually your gauge while knitting every row is different than your gauge for stockinet (knit across, purl back.)There are two ways to knit a swatch in the round. In the first, take your 16" circular needle and cast on enough stitches to go all the way around the needle (some folks turn this swatch into a cap so nothing is wasted :-) Knit 6" and then measure your gauge.

To join your knitting into a circle - Knit once across all the stitches. When you get to the last stitch - keep going in the same direction - you will be knitting the first stitch for the second time (start of Row 2). To do this, you must have enough stitches to fit all the way around your needle. It is also a good idea to put a marker between the last and first stitches so you can tell where your rows begin. Remember to double check to make sure your stitches are not twisted around the needle (like a spiral) when you join the first row. Sometimes there is a longer thread stretching between the last and first stitch of the next row - if it bothers you, you can put it up onto the left needle and knit it together with the next stitch to get rid of it.

To do a flat swatch as if you were knitting in the round, cast on six inches worth of stitches pnto a circular or double pointed needle. Knit across the row. Now, instead of turning, drape your yarn LOOSELY across the back and start knitting at the beginning of the row again. Continue to knit without turning, draping your yarn loosely across the back.

FYI - The easy way to remember how to spell gauge (as opposed to guage) is to spell is just the way it is pronounced - gAuge.


elsha said...

I need help before I go back to the LYS.I currenly am working on my swatch. I gauge isn't working out. I'm usiing Plymouth's Encore Colorwaves, worsted wt. yarn. I'm using sz. 9 16" circs. and my stiches are measuring 5-6 stiches/inch. Should I use thicker yarn, or smaller needles? I;m so confused. I have other yarn I could use in my stash. I have some Homespun. Would that be better? Please let me know soon, I'll be traveling to LYS on Friday and I'd like to be caught up with the rest of the group. Thanks, Elsha

9:19 PM, March 16, 2005  
erica said...

If you are trying to get less stitches to the inch, use a bigger needle.

I would change needle size before I changed yarns.

8:58 AM, March 17, 2005  

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