So last time I mentioned swatching in the round for our Toasty Fingerless Mitts with the lovely and versatile Fresco. Gauge of items knit in the round differ from flat knitting because purl stitches and knit stitches are different sizes (this is also why stockinette will ALWAYS curl). Knit stitches are slightly wider than purl stitches, so when you knit stockinette in the round, eliminating the purl stitch entirely, you have a knitted garment in stockinette that is slightly wider than if it had included purl stitches.
To knit a gauge swatch in the round, you must use a circular needle (or in a pinch, you can use a single DPN).
- Cast on your stitches. I'm going to cast on 30 stitches so I have a swatch large enough to measure. After you cast on, your ball end of the yarn is on the left side of your circular needle.
- Now, instead of turning your work and knitting back, you will slide the whole thing to the right, so the first stitch you cast on is at the tip of the right needle.
- Now, pulling the working yarn behind the work, knit from right to left as normal, leaving a large "loop" of yarn behind your knitting. Don't forget to leave plenty of slack on the working yarn to make it easier to measure your swatch when you're done.
The completed swatch should look like normal stockinette on the right side (though your border stitches will be really saggy) and a series of strands across the back.
Here is my completed swatch underneath my KnitChek. I got 13.5 stitches in two inches, so a gauge of 6.75 stitches per inch, slightly smaller than the recommended gauge. Think a difference of a quarter inch isn't a big deal? If you were knitting an adult sweater that is 34" around in the correct gauge (221 stitches around), that same stitch count would yield a sweater that is about an inch and a half smaller. It would also affect the total amount of yarn needed.
So I said I wanted to match Lesley's measurement, right?
6.2 (inches) x 6.75 (stitches per inch)=41.85, rounded up to 42 stitches to cast on.
Here I go with my mitts!