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Willowworks Cowl: how to knit a quick gauge swatch in the round

by Fiona Stevenson

Hello Knitters! Yesterday, I shared my strategies for getting through boring knitting like ribbing as I worked on the Willowworks Cowl. Before even casting on, however, to make sure this cowl fit right, I knit a gauge swatch in the round using Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Superwash wool and the Willowworks colorwork pattern. This swatch helped test my color choices and helped me learn the special pattern stitches. 

Getting the right gauge for the Willowworks Cowl is quick and easy with this simple technique for knitting a swatch in the round

Before you cast on the first stitch, make sure your Willowworks Cowl will fit by swatching in the round.

Unlike a typical gauge swatch that is knit flat, the Willowworks Cowl needs one that is knit in the round. Why? Because the tension of your knitting will be different if you’re knitting in the round instead of back and forth. However, no need to panic, you don’t have to spend forever knitting your swatch all the way around to be able to get an accurate gauge. There’s a little trick I’ll share with you.

Make sure your Willowworks Cowl blocks out to the right size by blocking your swatch before you measure.

The Willowworks color pattern is a multiple of 8 stitches. To get an accurate gauge I would recommend casting on 24-32 stitches using US 8 [5mm] circular or DPN needles.

  1. Knit across the cast on stitches in pattern. Just before the end knit both colors A & B into the last stitch.
  2. At the end of the row, pull out a length of both colors of yarn from your working yarn slightly wider than the width of your swatch.
  3. Don’t turn your work, instead slide your stitches down to the other end of your needle. Using both colors A & B together knit the first stitch then continue in pattern switching colors as you go until the last stitch is left. Knit this stitch with both colors A & B together.
  4. will make one side of this swatch your pattern, and on the backside of this swatch are loose strands of yarn.

If that is clear as mud, here’s a fabulous video. that explains visually how it’s done.

Once you have completed your swatch, block it, and measure it to see if you have the right gauge. If you have too many stitches, move up a needle size US 9 [5.5mm] and try again. Too few, go down to a US 7 [4.5mm] needle.

I know that swatching a cowl isn’t absolutely crucial, but it’s excellent practice for when swatching is utterly essential, like for a perfectly fitted Fair Isle cardigan.

Tomorrow, Willowworks Cowl pattern knit up using Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Superwash continues. I’ll be offering a couple of tutorials on how to work some of the trickier stitches in the Willowworks Cowl pattern. If you’re unsure about how to knit the twisted and cable stitches you’ll want to check in tomorrow before starting your swatch in the round. You can then use your swatch to practice these stitches before you start the cowl. See ya tomorrow!

The long strands of yarn at the back allow you to quickly swatch in the round.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: A survival guide to knitting uneven rib stitches

Go to part 3: Willowwork Cowl: how to knit RC and LC stitches and 1x1x1 LC too


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