1. Swatch in your colors!
Sometimes the dye can ever so slightly effect the weight of the yarn. Make a color work swatch and a stockinette swatch in the color you plan to knit the body of your sweater with. Measure these swatches.
2. Swatch in the round and flat if you are doing both in pattern.
Some knitters, myself included I think, knit a bit tighter then they purl. When we knit stockinette flat we knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side. When we knit stockinette in the round we are knitting on every round, not purling at all! For those of us who are irregular knitters, the stockinette flat will have a slightly different gauge then when it is done in the round! I noticed this as I began knitting the sleeve for my cardigan. I knitted the cardigan flat on a size 6 and naturally used the same needles to work my sleeve in the round. But as I knitted I noticed that my sleeve fabric was much tighter then my cardigan fabric! Alas I realized my knit stitches must be tighter. I quickly made a little swatch in the round in a needle one size up and the gauge became much better.
How to swatch in the round:
With a circular needle cast on stitches for a gauge swatch. Work a few rows of garter stitch to keep your swatch from rolling too much. Then when you reach the end of a row on the right side, instead of turning your knitting, slide your knitting across the circular needle. Carry a large float along the back of your swatch and knit the next row. Sort of like a large i-cord!
Your swatch will begin to look like this on the back.
When your swatch is large enough to measure from, work a few more rows of garter stitch working back and forth, then bind off. Cut your floats on the back so you swatch lays nice and flat and you are ready to measure.
3. Knit your sweater in the same needles as your swatch!
When you swatch and get your gauge with a particular type of needle (metal, bamboo or another), use the same type of needles for your actual garment knitting. Even if the needle says it is the same size, a different material can definitely effect your gauge.
4. Check and recheck your gauge!
Even after all of my preliminary swatching, I realized I needed to adjust my needle size as I began knitting the actual garment. Check your gauge as you do your color work, then check your gauge as you progress to your body in one color. I found that after I worked the chart, I needed to go down a needle size to maintain a consistent gauge in stockinette. Also a clear ruler like the one shown below is great for counting your stitches and rows – an extremely valuable tip passed along to me by Amy : )
5. Knit color work with two hands
Check out our video for working stranded knitting with one color in each hand. It takes some practice, but it’s more efficient than picking up each color when you need to use it.
Share your swatches on social media using the hashtag #BerrocoKAL, and on our Ravelry group!