Swatching in the round: A cheat.

Here is a post about swatching, if you’re into that kind of thing. I know we’re often impatient and want to jump to the actual garment, but hang on there, kitten. Don’t you want to make sure it will fit?

Did you know you’re stockinette swatches in the round can be quite different from those done flat? Sometime purl stitches are looser than your knit stitches, or tighter, or any combination of things. That means, if a pattern, like the Kit Camisole, instructs you to swatch in the round, a stockinette swatch that includes purled stitches isn’t going to be accurate.

Rather than cast on double the amount of stitches and using magic loop, you can cheat a little bit. You can cast on the number of stitches you would for your 4″ or bigger swatch. In this case, I cast on 35 because the gauge is 27 sts in 4″. I like to have a little extra at the sides to take the center measurement for greatest accuracy.

swatch in round Knit the first row. When you get to the end, push the piece back along the circular needle to the right side, as if you were making an i-cord. Move your strand of yarn from the left side of the piece back to the right side, making sure to leave enough of a strand that it’s not pulling in on the piece. Knit the next row. Continue in this fashion. You will have a swatch that uses only knit stitches, just like knitting in the round.

swatch in round-2

I can’t take full credit for this technique. I don’t remember the exact source, but I’m feeling like it was a tip from Ysolda, maybe in her wonderful book about altering sweater designs, Little Red in the City

18 thoughts on “Swatching in the round: A cheat.

    • I’m guilty of that for some items. I know I’m a loose knitter in general, so sometimes I’ll just go down a needle size and jump in. I can’t handle the unpredictability of that with an adult sized sweater though.

    • Me too. It’s always firmer for me. I think it’s just easier to go faster and I’m less clumsy and knit a bit more snugly when going fast.

  1. I swatch because I’m a rule follower, but not because I have much hope that it’s going to really help me get the fit I want because it just doesn’t feel accurate, but you’ve totally inspired me. This is perfect for in the round sweaters, and I’ve just realized that I can make the swatch work for the sweater it doesn’t just have to be a 4×4 square (duh!). Thanks for sharing!

    • Sometimes if I’m super lazy about swatching (and super confident) I just make sure I have a really good looking 2 inches in the middle and 1-1.5 vertically. This could bite back in the case of quarter or half stitches, so it depends on the gauge.

  2. This is great! I’ve had a few pieces in mind to start but no idea how to swatch it. I hate putting so much effort in only to find it’s gonna fit my dog instead ;p

    • That is also a fantastic knitting resource! I don’t cut because I just rip out my swatch and use the yarn. In the case of this tank, I’m worried I won’t have enough if I don’t.

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