Knitting Blog

The Right Way to Swatch in the Round

The key to accurately measuring gauge is working your swatch in the manner you plan to work the knitted piece. That means if you’re knitting a sweater in the round, your swatch should be knit in the round, too.

Side of speed swatch

Why swatching in the round matters

Using the right stitches

When knitting stockinette in the round, you work only knit stitches. However, when knitting stockinette flat, you purl on the wrong side — and purl stitches tend to have a looser gauge than knit stitches.

This method of swatching allows you to work only knit stitches, so you get a more accurate measurement. (This is critical for any stitch pattern, not just stockinette.)

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Making a “speed swatch”

The speed swatching technique described below allows you to make a larger swatch with a handy shortcut.

All you need for this technique are needles that let you slide the work to either end — choose either double-pointed needles or circulars.

Note: This method only works for circular needles. If you’re using DPNs, it’s best to knit the whole swatch in the round. Then, you can cut a row of stitches to open it up flat and measure.

How to knit a speed swatch step by step

Step 1:

Cast on as you regularly would. Make sure your swatch will be at least 4″-6″ wide and the same in height. The bigger you can make it, the more accurate it will read.

Then, slide the cast-on stitches across to the other end of the needle. The working yarn should now be closer to the cord of the circular needle.

Step 2:

knitting tan yarn with circular needlesOne stitch knit from a round knitting swatch

Holding the working yarn loosely around the back, begin knitting onto the free needle.

Knit across swatch in the roundGauge swatch finished one row

Work all the way across.

Step 3:

slide stitches across circular needle

When you get to the end of the row, slide the stitches back to the other needle. Remembering to keep the working yarn loose across the back of your work, begin knitting again across the row.

Step 4:

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you are done with your swatch. Bind off as usual.

Here’s what your swatch will look like from the back:

Back of speed knitting swatch in the round

A few quick tips for speed swatching in the round

Cut speed swatch in the round

If you find that the yarn floats in the back are too tight and are tugging on your knitting, simply cut them, like we did on this blue swatch. They won’t unravel, and you’ll get a more accurate read.

As you knit, if you think your gauge might be off, switch to a different needle halfway through, like we did on the swatch above. That way, you can wash and dry one swatch and easily compare the gauges.

Blocking speed swatch

Don’t forget, if you plan to block your finished piece, you’ll want to block this swatch as well. Lay it as flat as you can, with the floats on the bottom. From there, simply measure your stitches and rows as described here.

Craftsy Gauge Guide

FREE Guide! Get Gauge Every Time

Get our full guide to gauge, plus an exclusive gauge worksheet, for FREE!Get the FREE Guide

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