“Save time by carefully checking your gauge.” Famous last words for anyone that knits or crochets. Knitting a gauge swatch indicates the tightness or looseness of the knitter’s tension by measuring the stitches and rows per inch over atleast a 4″ swatch. Getting correct gauge determines the finished size of the stitched item and insures time wisely spent. How is gauge checked for items knit in the round?
I’ve posed this question to many in my knitting circle and received a variety of responses. “It doesn’t matter, just knit a swatch.” “If you’re knitting in the round, swatch in the round.” Why not knit a swatch using two double-point needles creating an I-cord? (Check-out www.knitty.com Winter 04 Issue Knit by Numbers).
I decided to knit three swatches to find out what the difference in gauge would be with each method. The I-cord method, knitting back and forth on straight needles, and in the round using circular needles. Each swatch was knit atleast 5″ wide with a worsted weight yarn in stockinette stitch on Size 7 bamboo needles.
The stitches were cut up the back on the I-cord swatch to lay flat. Compared to the other two swatches, the tension on the knit back and forth swatch was looser. Before measuring, each swatch was washed.
I-Cord Swatch: 19 sts = 4″ = 4.75 sts = 1″ 6.5 rows = 1″
Knitted Flat Swatch: 17.5 sts = 4″ = 4.375 sts = 1″ 6.375 rows = 1″
In The Round Swatch: 18 sts = 4″ = 4.5 sts = 1″ 6.85 rows = 1
So, I have the answer…each method produces a different gauge. I believe the I-cord method and knitting in the round are more reliable because both methods mimic knitting in the round. Of course, each knitter knits differently and your results will be unique to you.