Posts filed under ‘Tutorials / How to’

Swatch that sweater – Cassis KAL

In order to encourage you to swatch for your Cassis sweater and this knit-a-long, I have decided that the act of swatching will be the official KAL cast on action. If you have already done so, then you get a virtual gold star.

If you haven’t read the introductory post to this KAL, you may want to do so before proceeding with this post, First KAL of 2014 -It’s a Sweater. It will make more sense overall.


Angela’s swatch for Cassis. PDS Worsted knit on US 8 needles.

If you don’t know what on earth a swatch is, it is when you knit up a square of fabric out of your chosen project yarn. Nearly all patterns will have a place that says the  Gauge (or Tension) is X number of stitches by Y number of rows over 4 inches (10 cm) in some type of stitch (or X stitches per in and Y rows per inch in given stitch type). For the Cassis, the swatch is knit in stockinette stitches but often gauge is measured over the dominant design feature such as a cable or lace pattern. So double check the pattern.

gauge diagram

Standard practice to measure over 4 inches / 10 cm. So that means that a little 2 inch x 2 inch square isn’t really sufficient. Knit that swatch big, at least 5 x 5 inches.  If you are wondering what those holes are in my swatch, I put eyelets (yo, k2tog) equal to my needle size (US sizes). I learned that from Jamie H. (telogirl2003 on Ravelry).

Measure your swatch and count the number of stitches in the 4 inches. Do this in several places to double check. Then do the same for your rows. Now record this information and find your stitches and rows in 1 inch. Wash, dry and block your swatch as you will the actual project and take the measurements all over. This is the gauge you need for your work.

If your numbers vary from the given pattern information, you have a few decisions to make. The first is to decide if you need to try another swatch with a different needle size. If you need more stitches per inch, go down a needle size, for less, go up a size. If you can just tell that you are so far off that changing needle sizes won’t help, then you need to reconsider your yarn choice. If you like the fabric and your gauge is nearly correct, you may need to rework some of the pattern numbers. The beauty of a top down seamless sweater like Cassis is you can try on your sweater as you go. That makes slight adjustments as you knit possible. But it won’t fix a major difference between your gauge and the patterns without you doing some math work.

Here is why gauge matters. If your pattern has a gauge of 4 stitches per inch and you knit up 4.5 stitches per inch, that means every 4 inches you have 2 extra stitches (16 stitches/4 inches vs. 18 stitches/4 inches). Say you cast on 64 stitches and knit for awhile….

  • At pattern gauge – 16 stitches in 4 inches, you should have 16 inches width-wise. 64 stitches / 4 stitches per inch = 16 inches
  • At your gauge – 18 stitches in 4 inches, you should have ~14.2 inches width-wise, 64 stitches / 4.5 stitches per inch = 14.2222 inches

So you have nearly two inches difference between the two. Two inches difference in a hat is the difference between a child’s head and an adult. Over a greater number of stitches in a sweater, that two inches differences adds up and you end up with a sweater that doesn’t fit you.

So cast on that swatch and let’s knit a sweater this February. The end date for the KAL is actually March 15th. We have the Super Bowl and the Olympics to watch, plenty of good TV knitting time. Of course, as cold as it has been in the US and Canada, we haven’t been getting out much as usual. But it is good for knitting.

Just want to share with you my Cassis Sweater’s yarn, our exclusive hand dyed worsted yarn, PDS Worsted in Fireweed…I am in love! Just in time for Valentine’s Day which I also really enjoy!


Remember, if you are knitting with hand dyed yarns, you really should alternate skeins for best effect. But I will go on and on about that another day.

Tell us what you think about swatching. Do you have any stories to tell? Join us over on Ravelry in the KAL thread or here in the comments.

Happy Swatching and Knitting!

~Angela M.


January 31, 2014 at 8:33 pm 2 comments

Grafting Using the Kitchener Stitch Tutorial

Grafting using the Kitchener stitch is a very useful knitting skill. Grafting uses live stitches and creates a seamless transition around the edge of the knit when it is worn. If you are sock knitter, chances are you have used the kitchener stitch. But that isn’t the only time when having no seam or bound off edge is desirable.

When working in double knit in the round, grafting the finished edge is also very desirable. It is the only way to have an edge where each side remains distinct. If you want to have a top edge that mirrors your cast on edge using the two color cast on we recommended, you will want to kitchener stitch your top edge.

The Sprout Cowl pattern gives instructions on using the kitchener stitch to finish. If you are knitting this project as part of our Double Your Fun KAL, you will need to note that the instructions in this tutorial and in the Sprout Cowl pattern. The end result is exactly the same. This tutorial mirrors the instructions in the Polka Dot Sheep Publications patterns such as Charlie’s Sock Yarn Hat (our bestselling pattern).

Set up Kitchener

Step 1A Kitchener stitch

Step 1b of Kitchener Stitch

Step 1c of Kitchener stitch

Step 2 of Kitchener Stitch

Step 3a of Kitchener Stitch

Step 3b of Kitchener Stitch

Step 3c of Kitchener Stitch

Step 4 of Kitchener stitch

Step 5 of Kitchener stitch

End Kitchener Stitch

The Double Your Fun KAL wraps up this Friday, November 21, 2013. This is the final technique post for the series. Look for a finished project post in the next few week.

I finished my cowl last night. The project for my daughter and she promptly took the cowl, put it on, snuggled her face down into it and went to bed. I am not sure if she actually wore it to bed but it certainly seemed possible. So I haven’t gotten any pictures of it yet.

But the grafting using the kitchener stitches is certainly not limited to double knitting. It is especially useful closing toes on top down socks and closing the top of mittens or glove fingertips. These are places that seams are often uncomfortable and cumbersome. The kitchener stitch also makes for a great straight edge such as on the top of the Charlie’s Sock Yarn Hat. Then there are countless other times you might have live stitches to graft together.

The three points on the Charlie’s Sock Yarn Hat are formed by grafting.

Check out our upcoming KAL, Lomonds for the Whole Family, starting Sunday, November 24, 2013. The holidays are coming, these mitts are perfect!

As always thanks for joining us at Polka Dot Sheep and happy knitting!

~Angela M.

November 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm 6 comments

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