Knitting in the Round
October 15, 2010
I heart knitting in the round for one reason- No Purling (depending on the pattern). Knitting in the round is easy but it takes some getting used to and there are some tricks to help you knit in the round better and easier.
1) Consider your cast-on when knitting in the round. Backward loop is SOOOO easy to cast on but so difficult to knit that first row, especially when trying to keep your stitches from twisting (more on that later). Long tail cast on is my number 1 choice but I also like cable cast on as well. Both give a smooth edge.
2) Twisted stitches: When first learning to knit in the round you will read everywhere about the pitfalls of twisted stitches but it is hard to avoid a danger that has no face. Basically untwisted stitches are all lined up with the cast on bumps at the bottom. It might be beneficial to check each stitch to make sure. EVEN if you have 300 stitches! That is all the more reason to check since you do not want to cast 300 stitches on over and over to fix a twisted stitch. When you have knit and your stitches are twisted you will know it within a few rows. Your knitting will not be a knitted tube but the whole tube will be twisted. You will be forced to rip back to the beginning. The real danger is at the beginning when you join to knit in the round but the whole first row you must be aware to keep those stitches straight.
3) Ladders: This generally happens at the beginning of the round or when knitting on several needle (magic loop, 2 needles, DPN) at the join between each needle. Prevention is easy for each cause. Before joining to knit in the round, cast on an extra stitch then slip it from the right needle to the left. Knit the first 2 stitches together (the extra stitch from the right needle and the first stitch from the left) to begin knitting in the round. Knitting these 2 together will make the join tight and prevent a ladder. When moving from needle to needle I like to knit the first stitch on a new needle, then when I knit the second and I pull it tight. Snugging the 2nd stitch will snug any looseness from the first stitch and secures the snug. Determining how tight to snug your stitches will take practice. Not tight enough will not help and too tight will make it difficult to knit the stitch the next time around. (the below picture is a ladder at the beginning of the round)
4) Gauge: your gauge with straight knitting and knitting in the round is different. How different varies from knitter to knitter. But know that it is not a good idea to knit a gauge swatch straight for a round project. Knit your swatch to match your project. If you are making a hat, swatch in the round. If you project is flat, swatch flat. You may knit tighter in the round, getting 28 stitches per 4 in. in the round versus 30 sts per 4 in. straight. You may think that is any big thing but over the course of a sweater, you might find that while you made gauge you sweater is finished and too tight. 2 sts over 4 in. in the context of a sweater is a big deal. If swatching correctly seems like a waste of an hour, consider the 30 hours of a sweater that doesn't fit.
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