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How to Knit a Circular Gauge Swatch

Learn how to knit a circular gauge swatch from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


I'm going to talk to you now about how to knit a circular gauge swatch for
your circular knitting project. So when you knit a gauge swatch flat, you
knit the front and then you knit the back in the pattern that you want to
take your gauge measurement in. So for the most part, that is a stockinet
gauge swatch, which flat knitting would mean you would knit the front and
then purl the back.

But because in circular knitting, to get stockinet you
just knit around and around on the front, there is never any purls. And
because it takes a different tension and a different amount of yarn to make
a purl stitch, we would not want to make up a stockinet swatch with knits
and purls that we would measure for a project that we're going to be making
in stockinet in the round because there will be no purling. So there is a
way to make a circular gauge swatch where you don't actually need to knit
it in the round and you can still have a single layer swatch that lays flat
by doing this neat trick.

So I am swatching for a sweater with this
beautiful, brown yarn, and I am knitting across the front of the row just
like normal, and I cast on 32 stitches, which I knew would give me at least
four inches because it's good to take your gauge measurement over four
inches and then divide by four so that you can get a nice... an average for
how many stitches you're getting per inch. And if you'd like to see more
about measuring a gauge swatch, you can watch our video, "All About Gauge."
So what happened here was I got to the end of the needle. I finished my
knitting. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to pull the left-hand
needle out all the way. I'm using a really long circular needle. And I'm
going to push it in on the other side, but you'll notice that my yarn is
still waiting over here.

So what's going to happen is I'm going to bring my empty right-hand needle
around and I'm going to bring this yarn in a really loose strand, hanging
in the back. Keep it nice and loose. You don't want to make it tight or
taught because that will keep your gauge swatch from laying flat. Stick
your needle into the first stitch, and I'm sort of holding onto all this
nice looseness here in my float, and start knitting from the right side
again. So every time you end a row and come back around to the other side,
you're going to have a long, long float. So I'll finish the round, or the
row really. This is more like a row. And I'll show you one more time how
to make the float. And this way, we can measure how many stitches we're
getting per inch in stockinet without any purls, so we get a truer
representation of what this yarn does with these needles. Now of course,
if you're getting too many stitches per inch or your fabric is too dense,
go up a needle size, and if it's too gauzy and loose or you're getting not
enough stitches per inch, go down a needle size. So here I come to the end
of my row, three, two, one, and this last stitch on the outside is going to
be nice and loose. That is okay. We're not going to measure it. It's
loose-really, really loose-because of all these floats back here. Pull the
left-hand needle out. Push it back in on the other side. Bring the needle
around. I always anchor it by sticking it in and holding it with my left

I bring the yarn around in a nice, loose float. And I start
knitting again. So what happens after you finish this circular gauge
swatch is that you would take your gauge, just like any other project, and
you would wash and dry your swatch the way you intend to wash and dry the
fabric itself, and you would use a knit check to lay it down here and to
count how many stitches per inch you're getting. This little window lets
me count over two inches, but it also has this nice ruler on the bottom
where I can count between one and four inches. And that's how you knit a
circular gauge swatch.

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