I’m getting ready for my first 2010 Ravelympics*. I’ll be knitting for Team Buttercream which you’re all invited to join if you’re not already in a team. I’ve picked my event too – Sweaters Slalom! I’m attempting a personal record of knitting a full-sized man’s jumper in 17 days!
I’ve chosen to knit the Seamless Hybrid jumper by Elizabeth Zimmerman (EZ). Her book arrived last week and I’m very excited to get started. However, I can only swatch before the start of Ravelympics on February 12.
I really want this jumper to fit as it’s a birthday present for a special guy. Since the pattern is knitted in the round, EZ recommends to swatch in the round too as “some of us knit more tightly than we purl, or contrariwise.” I know it seems like a lot of work, but I’d much rather put the effort in now then to look at an ill-fitted jumper which is never worn outside the home.
So how do you check your gauge for circular knitting?
I’m glad you asked. The tutorial I’m about to show you is for a pattern like the Seamless Hybrid, where your own personal gauge with your choice of yarn will determine the number of stitches you need to cast on. If you are swatching to achieve a specified gauge, you might need to increase or decrease your needle size and swatch again if you did not achieve the desired gauge the first time round.
The first step is to look at the gauge given on the ball band. 16.5 sts = 10cm. I have a 60cm circular needle of the recommended size (5.5mm). Therefore I need to cast on at least 16.5 x 6 = 99 stitches to make sure the work will go right around the circular needles comfortably.
Second step is to knit in the pattern for 8 to 10cm. In my case, I knitted in stocking stitch until I ran out of yarn.
Third step is to pin the work flat. I put the live stitches on a piece of scrap yarn but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m just paranoid that it will unravel. Basically, take the needles out and pin it.
Fourth step is to measure. I have a couple of knitter’s gauge rulers to help me with this but any old ruler will do. I want to know how many stitches I have in 10cm space.
You can see from the ruler above that I have 8 stitches per 5cm (see red numbers below stitches).
I also have another gauge ruler from Knit Picks and this one has a magnified area. It does not photograph well but trust me there are 16 stitches per 10cm (see yellow numbers).
So my gauge is 16 stitches = 10cm on 5.5mm needles. It’s slightly different from the ball band’s gauge of 16.5 stitches = 10cm.
The fifth and last step is to work out how many stitches to cast on. I’m going to use the measurements from an existing top (above) to make my Seamless Hybrid jumper. The bottom hem measures 111cm around.
So basic maths will tell me that if 10 cm = 16 stitches, 111cm = 16 x 11.1 = 177.6 or rounded to 178 stitches
If I did not swatch and just used the gauge on the ball band, I would have cast on 16.5 x 11.1 = 183 stitches. The extra 5 stitches would have added about 3cm to the sweater body!
Another good thing about swatching is that I get a chance to see how the yarn looks knitted up. I was nervous about the colourway at first but I really like how it looks. It will suit the birthday guy perfectly.
That’s it. I’m ready to knit the jumper! I have to wait a little over 3 weeks before casting on and I can’t wait!
*Ravelympics is a Ravelry event where knitters/crocheters/spinners from all around the world compete for 2 weeks of focused, intense personal & team challenges while watching the Winter Olympics. This time we’re “gathering” in Vancouver, Canada during Feb 12-28, 2010. Come join us!