Author Archive

5 Twist Collective Patterns To Knit In 2018

Friday, January 12th, 2018
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The Winter 2018 issue of Twist Collective is finally here and full of gorgeous knitting patterns for sweaters, hats, scarves, and mittens! But how do you choose what to knit first? I pulled five of my favorite patterns from the new issue to help give you some inspiration and get started on some new projects in 2018! Do you need some creative accountability? Check out Marykate’s post on the #WEBSFiberFollowThrough and join us on social media for a year of fiber fun!

Beringer Pullover Sweater Kit

Twist Collective Beringer Knit Pullover Sweater Pattern

Designed by Quenna Lee

Who doesn’t love a gorgeous sweater in a fun, tweedy yarn? This sweater immediately stood out to me as a classic when I first flipped through the new Twist issue. I love the simple cables up the front and the pretty details at the cuff and hemline. Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Tweed Superwash also comes in the cutest color palette! It reminds me of the fun speckled yarns that are all the rage right now, but in a more subtle aesthetic.

Thunderbolt Bottom Up Sweater Pattern

Twist Collective Thunderbolt Knit Pullover Sweater Pattern

Designed by Cheryl Burke

I am absolutely smitten with the colorwork on the yoke of the Thunderbolt sweater! This is for all you color lovers out there. It’s another pullover knit from the bottom up with some short row shaping at the back of the neck to give the collar some additional shaping. The fun pattern is achieved with rows of mirrored left and right leaning ribbing, which should also make for some fun knitting after working the stockinette body and sleeves. Knit up in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool this sweater is also guaranteed to be super soft! (And since I’m the model in this picture, I can vouch for that!)

Cabrillo Knit Hat, Mittens, & Cowl Set

Twist Collective Cabrillo Knit Hat Mittens Cowl Pattern

Designed by Juliana Lustenader

The adorable Cabrillo set is so soft and will knit up in a flash in the gorgeously bulky Fibre Co.’s Tundra! The kit comes with the colors pictured in the finished set, but there are several beautiful combinations you can put together with Tundra! If I were going to knit this set, I would choose the three playful colors on the left: Sockeye Salmon, Snowdrift, and Blue Lagoon.

Yojimbo Knit Shawl

Twist Collective Yojimbo Knit Shawl Pattern

Designed by Nancy Vandivert

The Yojimbo shawl may be knit in Valley Yarns Charlemont, but either way it would be one of my favorite pieces in this issue. I love anything with a bold geometric motif and a fun to knit stitch pattern and Yojimbo has both! This gorgeous shawl is achieved with a slipped stitch mosaic color work pattern and finished off with a bold intarsia edge. The kit comes with the colors pictured in the finished garment, but I pulled a few more options so you could get creative and change up the blue to be whatever color would fit your wardrobe best!

Mill Creek Hat & Cowl Knitting Kit

Twist Collective Mill Creek Knit Hat Cowl Pattern

Designed by Sierra Morningstar

How cute is the playful reindeer motif on this set?! I’m definitely going to knit up a few of these for Christmas gifts next year. They’re the perfect mix of playful, cozy, and cool! It’s the perfect style for someone who loves a little bit of cutesy mixed in with their bold patterns!

What are your favorite patterns from the Twist Collective Winter 2018 issue?

How To Swatch Series: Advanced Swatch Knitting Techniques

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017
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We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in our how to swatch your knitting series. We’ve gone over the basics of why swatching is so important for a polished and professional-quality finished object. Then we showed you, step-by-step, how to create accurate swatches you can trust each time you start a project. For the final installment of our how to swatch series, we wanted to share a few advanced techniques that will really help you take your knitting to the next level.

Generally speaking, swatches are made using the stockinette stitch in order to find your stitch and row gauge. You need to know these numbers so you can be sure that your finished work will be the appropriate size. This is especially important when you’re making a garment because it will directly affect how well a piece fits you or the intended wearer.

So what happens when you’re working with a stitch pattern that could drastically alter the gauge of your project? If you’ve ever knit anything with cables or worked a fair isle pattern, you might have noticed that your final piece was a different size than you expected or that your gauge felt very different when you were working those particular sections.

If you’re following a pattern a lot of times this work has been done for you and the pattern might simply ask you to make a stockinette swatch because the author has already done some of the work for you within the pattern. She has determined that if you knit a stockinette swatch to the gauge she has referenced, your final project, even with the cables or the colorwork she has incorporated into the design, should work. However, sometimes patterns do instruct you to create gauge swatches in pattern so that you can be sure you’re going to knit the garment as accurately as possible. And if you’re interested in designing your own patterns, learning how to swatch in various ways will make designing easier. Your final patterns will be more successful because you will know for sure that all of your measurements are going to be accurate across all the sizes you’re supporting.

One important note before we start: All of these swatches should be blocked or washed as you plan to treat your finished garment. Whenever you find your gauge you should record the stitch and row gauge both before and after you block your swatches.

Swatching Knitted Colorwork

Your knitting tension can be affected by a variety of things including what you’re knitting. When you work with two or more yarns at a time in stockinette stitch, you might find that your tension is different from your regular stockinette knitting. This can be caused by how you’re holding the yarns as you change colors or even the different dyes in the yarns themselves. Regardless of why the change is happening, it’s good to be aware of it and make a swatch of one of the colorwork sections of your garment to be sure that your colorwork won’t throw off the fit of the final piece.

Check out this swatch of Madelinetosh DK:

advanced swatch knitting colorwork swatch

To find your gauge, you’d count your stitches the exact same way you would a regular stockinette gauge. Lay your ruler over the swatch and count how many stitches make up an inch both horizontally (stitch gauge) and vertically (row gauge). 

There are a couple of other reasons why swatching your colorwork knitting is important:

  • If you’re substituting colors, you can see how well they work together before committing to the entire piece
  • If you’re designing, you can see how the fabric feels when you work that particular colorwork pattern in the yarn you’ve chosen

Fair Isle is usually knit in the round because it makes the patterns easier to work when you’re only knitting the right side of the fabric. With that in mind, let’s talk about how to swatch in the round!

Swatching Knitting In the Round or the I-Cord Swatch

If you’re going to knit in the round it’s important to make your swatch in the round as well. When you knit stockinette stitches flat, you’re making knit stitches on the front of your work and purl stitches on the back. When you work stockinette in the round, however, you’re only making knit stitches on the right side. This affects your gauge because your tension when you’re purling can be different than your knitting tension.

When I knit a top-down raglan sweater, for example, anytime I need to knit flat—when I’m starting the back of the neck or working a short row bustline—I often need to use a different needle size to match the gauge of my circular knitting.

To make an i-cord swatch, cast on the same number of stitches you would use to make a regular flat swatch on circular needles or longer double pointed needles. Knit (or work your pattern or colorwork) to the end of the row. Then, keep the right side facing you and instead of turning, loosely carry your yarn all the way across the back of your work, slide your stitches all the way to the right, and begin working from the right side again. Repeat this for the entirety of your swatch. While you’re not making an i-cord, you can see that the technique is the same. The back of your swatch will look like this:

Valley Yarns Northamtpton Knit Swatch Round

Don’t worry about the first few stitches and the last few stitches. They’re going to be a bit loose and weird because you’re carrying the yarn around the back of the work instead of knitting a full circle. As long as you cast on plenty of stitches, they won’t affect your gauge.

When you carry the yarn, you need to use a little more than the length of the swatch to be able to knit across your swatch comfortably. If you don’t leave enough slack in this carried yarn, you’ll notice it will become difficult to knit across your swatch.

Once your swatch if finished, you can cast off and measure your gauge like it was any other swatch! Just make sure to stay towards the center of your work so your measurements are not thrown off by the looser stitches at either end.

Knitting Your Swatches In Pattern

Sometimes a pattern may instruct you to figure out your gauge for a repeated stitch pattern. And if you’re at all interested in designing knitwear, knowing how to find your gauge in a pattern will be integral to figuring out all of the other technical details required in pattern writing.

Finding this gauge is just like finding a stockinette gauge, it’s just a little trickier and you need to really know how to read your stitches. Since reading your stitches is such a great skill to have anyway, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of finding your stitch gauge for repeated pattern sections so you’ll be better equipped to figure out mistakes and solve them more easily.

Check out this swatch of Tahki Yarns Skinny Jeans. Look at how much wider the stitch pattern is compared to the stockinette stitches above it:

Tahki Skinny Jeans stockinette and stitch pattern swatch

If you wanted to knit a cute beach cover up with that open, meshy stitch pattern, but you only found your stockinette gauge and not your gauge for the mesh as well, your final garment would most likely end up way too large!

So how do you find your pattern gauge? The first thing to do is figure out whether or not you should knit your swatch flat or in the round. Sometimes the answer is both! For the top down raglan sweater I mentioned above, I needed to figure out both my round and flat gauge for a pattern I decided to use around the yoke as well my round and flat gauge for the stockinette stitches I planned to use for the body and sleeves.

Next is the tricky part, counting your stitches. Let’s take a look at this swatch of cables knit up in Madelinetosh Tosh DK. Cables are another great example of a stitch pattern with a gauge that will be quite different from its stockinette companion due to its tendency to pull in the fabric with each cross:

Tosh DK Swatching Cable Knitting

There are two other things to keep in mind when figuring out your stitch gauge and your row gauge for any kind of stitch pattern. How many stitches make up one complete set of the stitch pattern as you knit across?

Swatch Knitting Cable Knitting stitch gauge

The number of stitches between the two vertical lines indicates each repeat of the cable pattern.

And how many rows make up one complete set of the stitch pattern vertically?

Swatching Knitting Repeating Stitch Patterns Cable Knitting

The number of stitches between the two horizontal lines indicates the number of rows in the cable pattern.

You’ll need to keep these in mind if you’re designing or altering a pattern to make sure that the stitch pattern falls in the appropriate places on your garment. Knowing these will also make it easier to figure out your gauge for stitch patterns that are more difficult to count because of the arrangement of stitches within the pattern.

Finding your gauge in pattern is the same as finding your stockinette gauge, you just have to be more aware of where your stitches are. To find your stitch gauge, count your stitches across horizontally. To find your row gauge, count your stitches vertically. 

This is where it’s helpful to know how many stitches make each pattern set, because then you can double check your numbers and orient yourself within your pattern. And trust me, it will only get easier the more you practice and more fluent you become in reading your knitting.

What If My Stockinette Gauge Is Different From My Pattern Gauge?

It’s very likely that your stockinette gauge will be different from your stitch pattern or colorwork gauge, but that’s OK! Often if you’re following a pattern, you’ll just need to match your stockinette gauge (especially if no stitch pattern gauge is provided). In this case, as long as you’re achieving the suggested stockinette gauge, you can proceed with your project!

If you’re designing your own item or you have significant portions of your item knit with stockinette with other portions knit in a stitch pattern you’ll need to make some adjustments.

If your colorwork or stitch pattern gauge is different from your stockinette gauge, it’s important that both gauges match to ensure that each portion of your garment fits properly. For instance, if you’re only going to work a Fair Isle design on the yoke of a sweater, those stitches need to match the stockinette stitches you’re using on the sleeves and torso to avoid any fit issues. In this case, simply swatch your colorwork pattern until you achieve a gauge that matches the stockinette gauge you decided was appropriate for the piece. When it’s time to work the Fair Isle design, simply switch to the needle size you need to match the gauge of your stockinette stitches.

Since everyone knits differently, there really isn’t a rule of thumb here. Some people will need to size up and others will need to size down. If you swatch consistently, you’ll start learning your knitting patterns, so you’ll have a better idea of which needles to start with when you’re working on matching gauges.

Congratulations, you’re a swatching pro now! If you missed the first two posts in this series, you can check them out here:

We’ll have a crochet swatching series available in 2018 along with plenty of other posts that will help you improve your knitting, crocheting, spinning, and weaving! Let us know any other tips and techniques you’d like to learn in the comments!

Introducing Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke

Thursday, December 14th, 2017
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Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke is one of our newest additions to the Valley Yarns line and its timing is absolutely perfect for winter. There’s nothing like snuggling up on the couch with your favorite warm beverage, a cozy afghan, and your latest, comfiest project. And Mount Holyoke is definitely going to be one of the coziest yarns you knit and crochet with this year.

Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke Cashmere Yarn Knit Crochet Swatches

Mount Holyoke is named for the Mount Holyoke range that’s right in our backyard here in the Connecticut River Valley. It’s a 100% cashmere yarn that comes with 185 fluffy and slightly tweedy yards in colors inspired by the New England sky and landscape. Its worsted weight means you can reach for Mount Holyoke for a variety of projects that may want just a little bit of added luxury. We’re loving this yarn’s lovely drape which is a little softer than your standard wool yarn:

Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke Cashmere Yarn Stockinette Swatch

But don’t worry, it can also handle some texture:

Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke Cashmere Yarn Knitting Swatches Stockinette Cables

Mount Holyoke is also absolutely stunning crocheted. You could make the most sumptuous granny square throw or a slouchy, cozy sweater:

Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke Cashmere Yarn Crochet Swatch

We’re already dreaming up some beautiful patterns for Mount Holyoke, but in the meantime, a few patterns you could use for this yarn are:

The Pincushion Moss Crocheted Shawl

Valley Yarn pincushion moss crochet shawl pattern

This adorable casual shawl will become your date night favorite when you crochet it with Mount Holyoke cashmere yarn. It will be super soft and will have a lighter, flowier drape than Valley Yarns Southwick, which is a cotton bamboo blend.

The Cabello Cowl

Valley Yarns Cabello Cowl Knitting Pattern

You’re going to love the way Mount Holyoke feels next to your skin, so cowls and scarves are the perfect projects for it! Try the Cabello Cowl pattern with Mount Holyoke instead of Valley Yarns Northampton. Again, the finished cowl will be drapier and you may need to add an additional repeat of the stitch pattern for both the width and the height of the cowl, but it will be worth those extra stitches!

The Dassin Cardigan

Valley Yarns Dassin Knit Cardigan Pattern

The Dassin Cardigan will is the perfect project for a cashmere yarn! Its drapey and elegant style will be the perfect complement to Mount Holyoke and regardless of which color you choose, it will be an item you can reach for in your closet time and time again. This cardi will be able to transition seamlessly from your semi-casual office to a night out on the town with your friends!

Check out Valley Yarns Mount Holyoke now and let us know what you’re excited to make with it in the comments!

10 Last Minute Gifts For Spinners and Weavers:

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017
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It’s holiday shopping crunch time! Last week we shared a list of great last minute gifts for knitters and crocheters, so this week we wanted to help you shop for the spinners and weavers in your life.

We’ve rounded up ten affordable items that you could gift your favorite fiber artist:



Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Spinning Yarn Spools

Every spinner needs some bobbins to wind their freshly spun yarn onto! Gift your favorite spinner some spare bobbins made from beautiful, natural woods. (Be sure to double check to make sure the bobbin will work with their spinning wheel!)

Ashford Spinner Maintenance Kit

Ashford Spinning Wheel Spinner Maintenance Kit

If your fiber artist owns an Ashford spinning wheel, an Ashford Spinner Maintenance Kit would make a great gift! The kit includes everything they need to keep their wheel in tip-top shape for its entire life. (Just ask us about our staff member who’s still spinning on a 30 year old wheel!)

Niddy Noddy

Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Niddy Noddy

A niddy noddy is a great tool that will help keep your spinner’s newly plied yarns in nice, neat hanks. Even weavers, knitters, and crocheters find niddy noddies useful for removing kinks and elasticity from yarn.

Hand Carders

Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Hand Carder

A hand carder is a great way to help a spinner expand on their creativity! With this tool they’ll be able to blend fibers together and create unique color combinations that are all their own!

Drop Spindle

Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Drop Spindle

A drop spindle is the perfect gift to get someone who is interested in learning how to spin but may not want to make the big investment in a spinning wheel just yet. A drop spindle will allow them to create their very first skein of handspun wool from anywhere. Pair it with some neutral roving for the ultimate beginning spinner’s gift!


Schacht Double Ended Tapestry Beater

Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Schacht Double Ended Tapestry Beater

A tapestry beater’s teeth goes around the warp threads and is used to push down your weaver’s weft threads to help keep their weaving consistent.

Heddle Hooks

Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Heddle Hooks

Every weaver could use some heddle hooks to make threading their heddles easier! They can also be used on a harness loom. It’s definitely one of those tools that are great to have a few extras handy!


Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Shuttles

A weaver can never have too many shuttles! The right tools can make all the difference in a project, and a simple, lightweight shuttle will make weaving easy on the hands and will make changing colors a breeze.

Schacht Flip Trap for Flip Rigid Heddle Loom

Schacht Flip Trap for Flip Rigid Heddle Loom

It’s like a hammock but for their weaving tools! This accessory for the Schacht Rigid Heddle Loom attaches into the clamp holes in the ends of the loom sides and is the perfect space for shuttles and extra bobbins. The Flip Trap is made of durable nylon canvas, suspended between hardwood bars

Harrisville Designs Cone Holder

Spinning Weaving Gift Guide Cone Holder

These handy holders keep your weaver’s cones in place while they wind their warp or their bobbin. No more cones rolling away while they try to work!

And don’t forget, we have some shipping deadlines if you need to receive your items before December 25th:

  • West Coast: Wednesday, December 13th at 3pm EST
  • Midwest & South: Friday, December 15th at 3pm EST
  • East Coast: Tuesday, December 19 at 3pm EST

If you didn’t find quite the right item here, we have plenty of choices for weavers and spinners on our website! Happy Holidays!

The Last Minute Knit and Crochet Holiday Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017
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The holidays are fast approaching and we’re sure there are a few knitters and crocheters on your list this year! It’s not always easy to choose gifts for crafters, especially if you’re unfamiliar with what they do. Even if you’re a knitter or crocheter yourself, it can be hard to think of what your fellow fiber enthusiasts might like.

We’re making it easy for you this year and sharing 11 last minute gift ideas that knitters and crocheters are sure to love! The tools on this list will be great for either knitters or crocheters and the patterns and kits specify which craft they feature. If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments, message us on Facebook, or get in touch with our Customer Service team!

The WEBS Last Minute Knit and Crochet Gift Guide

Learn To Knit Kit

WEBS Learn To Knit Kit

How many times have your friends and family told you they would love to learn how to knit? Give them the gift of knitting this year with the WEBS Learn To Knit Kit. The kit comes with literally everything you need to make your very first scarf. It even comes with an easy-to-follow instruction booklet that’s filled with images and step-by-step instructions as well as a link to our YouTube playlist where you can watch each lesson.

This gift would also be perfect for any tweens or teens who are interested in designing, crafting, and the slow fashion movement!

Binkwaffle Small Dumpling Bag

Knitting Crochet Dumpling Project Bag

Every knitter or crocheter could use an adorable bag to carry around their latest work-in-progress! Let’s be honest, you don’t even need to knit or crochet to want one of these super cute bags!

Alia Bland Sunday Shawl Crochet Set

Alia Bland Sunday Shawl Crochet Kit

This shawl is one of our favorites! We love the bright pops of color against the soft gray background. The kit comes with the twelve skeins of Valley Yarns Conway you’ll need to make this fun and funky accessory. December is the perfect time to start this project so that your crocheter will have it made in time for spring!

Gleener Fuzz Remover

Gleener Knit Crochet Fuzz Remover

If you knit or crochet with wool, you’re eventually going to run into fuzz and pills. The Gleener Fuzz Remover easily removes those annoying fuzzies from even the softest cashmere! It’s a great stocking stuffer for your favorite fiber artist!

Blue Sky Fibers 21 Color Slouch Knit Kit on a String

Blue Sky Fibers 21 Color Slouch Knit Kit on a String

This adorable knitting kit comes with everything you need to make the 21 Color Slouch Knit hat from Blue Sky Fibers. The kit includes 21 colors of Woolstok yarn in 5-gram mini-skeins, all hung on a leather string and packaged neatly together in an attractive little box. All the color changes make this advanced-beginner project so fun to knit!

Scheepjes Sophie’s Universe Crocheted Stool Kit

Scheepjes Crochet Sophies Stool

We still have a few of these crochet kits in stock, but they’re going fast! This kit features the gorgeous Sophie’s Universe pattern  by Dedri Uys and includes everything you need to make the floral cover for the stool, even the stool itself! The best part is that the stool comes already assembled, so there’s no setup required!

WEBS Sock Knitting and Blocking Tool Kit

WEBS Sock Knitters Tool Kit

This is the perfect gift for anyone who either wants to get into sock knitting, or already loves it but maybe needs a few tools to take their socks to the next level. This kit includes everything you need to make a perfect, professional looking pair of socks: two sock blockers, a sock ruler, sock and lace rings, stitch holders, and a small unscented bottle of Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash.

Knitter’s Pride Signature Series Wooden Yarn Dispenser

Knitters Pride Wooden Yarn Dispenser horizontal

Knit or crochet with style with this elegant Knitter’s Pride yarn dispenser made with a gorgeous combination of natural and colorful laminated birch wood. It’s fitted with ball bearing that help the shaft rotate smoothly and keep your yarn from falling onto the floor while you knit or crochet. It even comes apart so you can travel with it!

TOFT Edward’s Menagerie Animal Crochet Kit

TOFT Edward's Menagerie Animal Crochet Kit

These crochet kits are like getting two gifts in one! Not only do you get to crochet a really fun and adorable project, but then you also have a super cute little animal to gift again to another special person in your life. (Or keep for yourself, we won’t tell!)

Valley Yarns Duxbury Mitts Knitting Kit

Valley Yarn Duxbury Knit Mitts Pattern

We may talk about these mitts a lot, but it’s for good reason… they’re pretty amazing! Valley Yarns Worthington is an absolute pleasure to work with and these super cute fingerless mitts will go with nearly everyone’s style. The kit includes the PDF pattern and two skeins of Worthington with four beautiful colors to choose from.

Juniper Moon Farm Juniper Moon Farms Lazer Engraved Maple Rolling Pin

Juniper Moon Farm Juniper Moon Farms Lazer Engraved Maple Rolling Pin

Who doesn’t want to take their love of fiber arts into other areas of their lives? This maple engraved rolling pin from Juniper Moon Farm will allow you to roll out pie crusts and sugar cookies stamped with  an adorable Nordic sweater inspired design! You don’t even have to knit or crochet to love this one!

If you need your package to arrive before December 25th, please keep the following shipping cut-offs in mind:

  • West Coast: Wednesday, December 13th at 3pm EST
  • Midwest & South: Friday, December 15th at 3pm EST
  • East Coast: Tuesday, December 19 at 3pm EST

After each date, extra charges may apply for expedited shipping.

If you need even more inspiration, check out all of the awesome knitting and crochet patterns and kits we have! Let us know the best knitting or crochet gift you’ve ever received in the comments!

Swatching Series: How To Knit A Swatch

Monday, September 4th, 2017
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In our How To Swatch Series, we’re going over why it’s important to swatch your knitting, how to make the perfect gauge swatch, and advanced techniques for swatching.

Now that you understand why a trustworthy gauge swatch is crucial to knitting, we can dive right into learning how to make the perfect knit swatch. You’ll need a few things to get started:

  • The exact yarn you will use for your project (or you might have a few different yarns you want to swatch with to see which fabric you prefer for a pattern)
  • Your knitting needles, usually 2-3 depending on how well you know the yarn and your own knitting gauge
  • Eucalan Knitting Crochet Wool Wash or other wool wash of your choosing

In this post, I’m going to go over how to make a swatch using the stockinette stitch (knitting on the right side of your swatch and purling on the wrong side). A stockinette swatch is standard in most patterns, however, sometimes you will need to make a swatch in a stitch pattern. I’ll go over how to make a swatch in pattern and count your stitches in the final installment of this series.

Knitting Swatch Size Matters

One of the most common mistakes we see in knitters’ swatches is that they’re not big enough. There are a lot of reasons people have for not creating a large enough gauge swatch: a fear of wasting yarn, boredom, impatience, and incorrect or outdated information about swatching.

A gauge swatch should be at least 8” wide by 8” tall because you want to be able to measure several inches of your swatch at once in several different places to confirm that your gauge is accurate across the entire swatch.

How To Swatch Stockinette Knitting

If your swatch is too small, you won’t be able to find your “knitting groove”. Your groove is your most natural, relaxed knitting. Usually you don’t actually get into your knitting groove for a few rows, so if your swatch is too small, it won’t necessarily be an accurate reflection of your knitting which, in turn, leads to an unreliable gauge swatch.

Not only will a nice big swatch give you a more reliable gauge, but it will also give you a better idea of the fabric you’ll be making while you knit. This is especially important if you’re choosing to knit with a yarn that’s different from the yarn recommended by your pattern or if you’re designing your own piece. An 8” swatch will give you a much better idea of the feel and drape of a fabric than a 4” swatch.

The Edges Of Your Swatch

Knitting in stockinette makes your edges curl—like the edges on the swatch in the image above. For a nice, flat swatch that will be easy to accurately measure, you should knit about an inch of garter stitch (knit on both right and wrong sides) to all four edges of the swatch. Because this edge will help your swatch lay flat, you won’t have to worry that you’re stretching out your stitches while you measure which could result in an inaccurate gauge.

How To Swatch Knitting Garter Stitch Border Swatch


To Wash Or Not To Wash

You should treat your swatch the way you plan to treat your final piece. Are you going to wet block your piece and eventually wash it in some way? The same should be true of your swatch. Many fibers will change as a result of washing and blocking. A piece that measures 8” when initially knit could end up being 8.5-9” after washing and blocking. That’s a big difference if you’re making a sweater that you’d like to fit snuggly!

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of taking your gauge both before and after blocking so you can know what the size of your finished and washed garment will be.

Counting Your Knitting Stitch Gauge & Row Gauge

There are actually two kinds of gauge you should be comfortable with as you get in the habit of making gauge swatches: Stitch gauge and row gauge.

Stitch gauge is the number of horizontal stitches in each inch of your knitting. To count your stitch gauge, count each “v” of knitting as one stitch in a straight line to the left and right of your knitting.

Knitting Gauge Swatch Stitch Gauge Example IllustrationRow gauge is the number of vertical stitches in each inch of your knitting.

Row gauge is used less commonly than stitch gauge, but if your pattern references it, you should be sure to check how your row gauge compares to the written pattern gauge. Row gauge is particularly important in knitting stitch patterns and cable patterns that require certain sections of the stitch pattern to be located in specific places of your final garment.

Counting stitches for your row gauge is the same as counting your stitch gauge except this time you’ll count vertically instead of horizontally. Count each “v” of knitting as one stitch in a straight line up and down.

How to count row gauge example swatchDo I Go Up Or Down In Needle Size

This is always a little tricky to think about. You’ve knit your gauge swatch and your gauge is 6 stitches to the inch on US 7 needles. However, you’re pattern is calling for a gauge of 7 stitches per inch on US 7s. As you know, you’ll need to make another swatch with a different needle size, but how do you know whether to adjust up or down?

If you need to add more stitches to your gauge, as is the case in this example (you need to be knitting one more stitch per inch), you should adjust your needle size down. A smaller needle will create smaller stitches, so you would be more likely to knit the correct gauge on a US 5 or 6.

If you need less stitches to reach the correct gauge, you should adjust your needle size up. A larger needle creates larger stitches which means there are less stitches in every inch of your knitting. So if you were knitting at 6 stitches per inch on US 7 needles but your pattern called for 5 stitches per inch, you should try swatching on a US 8 or 9 to reach the appropriate gauge.

Congratulations, you’re now a swatching champion! Stay tuned for our final installment of the How To Swatch Series to learn some specialty swatching skills like swatching in the round and swatching in pattern!


How To Swatch: Why Swatching Your Knitting Is Important

Saturday, August 19th, 2017
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how to swatch knitting | valley yarns northampton

Learning how to swatch correctly is one of the most important things you can do to bring your knitting to the next level. It’s also the step many knitters are keen to shorten or skip entirely. But often, when we field knitters’ questions about why a garment didn’t work out, the problem could have been avoided if a proper swatch had been worked before starting.

In this three part series, I’m going to walk you through how to swatch to achieve the best possible results in all your future knitting projects. First, we’ll go over why swatching is so important to knitting, especially if you’re knitting garments. In the second part, I’ll cover how to swatch with details about how big your swatch should be and how exactly to count your stitches to achieve the most accurate gauge. And in the third part, I’ll go over some advanced swatching techniques: how to swatch in pattern, how to swatch for colorwork, and how to swatch for pieces that will be worked in the round.

Isn’t Swatching The Worst?

I used to hate swatching, too. I didn’t like to “waste” yarn and all I wanted to do was dive into knitting my sweater. But after hundred of stitches, I would try my sweater on and be disappointed. My sweaters rarely fit properly and my incorrect gauge would even throw off the stitch pattern’s placement around necklines and armhole decreases.  

I eventually realized–especially after taking a few classes at WEBS–that swatching really mattered and I needed to reframe my view of it.

It’s definitely not a waste of yarn. By figuring out a proper gauge I avoid wasting yarn making a garment that doesn’t fit me properly. I also started to look at swatching as practice for my upcoming work: knitting a pattern swatch helps me get the hang of it and develop some muscle memory around the stitches.

I’ve actually sort of grown to love swatching! (Don’t worry, I still hate weaving in my ends!) I pick up an extra skein of yarn and take my time finding the proper gauge whenever I start a project. Sometimes it only takes one swatch, other times a few. If I’m designing, I swatch until I’m 100% satisfied with my gauge and fabric before knitting my first sample.

hot to swatch knitting | madelinetosh tosh sock | malabrigo mechita

Swatches of Malabrigo Mechita and Madelinetosh Tosh Sock I made as I designed the colorwork pattern of a sweater I’m working on.

Why Swatching Your Knitting Important (H1)

The main reason why it’s so important to swatch is to confidently know your gauge: how many stitches fit into one inch of your knitting. If your pattern’s gauge is 5 stitches to the inch on US size 7 needles with a worsted weight yarn, you can’t assume that you will automatically knit the same gauge with size 7 needles and a worsted weight yarn. Take a moment to click on the link for worsted weight yarn and compare the gauges.

Did you notice how much variety there was in our worsted weight selection? The yarns’ gauge could vary anywhere between 4.5 stitches per inch on US 8 needles to 5 stitches per inch on US 6 needles.  

There will even be gauge variation in the yarn itself! Let’s take a look at Malabrigo Rios, pictured below:

Malabrigo Rios Yarn Hanks | WEBS How To Swatch Knitting

We list Malabrigo Rios’ gauge as 4.5-5.5sts = 1″ on US 6-8. Would you be able to knit this gauge at 5 stitches per inch? Definitely! Will it be on the US 7 needles you prefer to use? There’s no way to accurately know without making a gauge swatch.

You might then ask, “But I’ve knit with Malabrigo Rios before and I know what my gauge is! Can’t I just assume it’s still the same?”

The answer is maybe. If you’re going to knit a scarf or a shawl and you know that in the past you’ve really enjoyed the fabric you’ve knit with Rios on US 7 needles, skip the swatch. Just be aware that if you’re following a pattern, you might run into yardage issues if you’re not sure of your gauge compared to the pattern.

But if you’re going to knit a sweater, you should definitely knit another set of swatches. Start with the needle size you think will be right and double check! It’s better to know certainly that your gauge with that particular yarn and needle combination hasn’t changed before knitting a garment that ends up not fitting you properly.

Factors That Affect Your Knitting Gauge 

It’s important to recheck your gauge because so many things can affect it. Anything from how you’re feeling that day to what kind of dye is being used in the yarn can alter the the way you know.

How to swatch Valley Yarns Haydenville

Working large swatches of at least 8″ will help you find your knitting groove and yield a more accurate gauge swatch.

Your Knitting Needles

Different knitting needle materials will yield different gauges from the same knitter. I’ve been knitting with Knitter’s Pride Dreamz for awhile and was reliably knitting about one needle size down from what a pattern would call for. I recently picked up a set of Knitter’s Pride Royale special needles. They have a metal tip but are otherwise the same as Dreamz. This seemingly small difference changed my gauge! On the Royales my gauge is frequently correct in the needle size recommended by the pattern.

Yarn Materials & Dye

A worsted weight yarn that’s 100% wool is going to knit differently than a worsted weight yarn that’s a cotton blend. Even the same yarn you used a year ago could have a slightly different dye component that can affect your gauge. There’s really no way of knowing how a yarn is going to behave on your needles, even if it’s a yarn you’re familiar with, until you knit up a new gauge swatch and find out.

How Much Time You Spend Knitting 

We recommend large gauge swatches for a reason, and it’s really not because we want you to buy more yarn! A large gauge swatch of at least 8 inches helps you get into your knitting groove. If you only knit a 4” x 4” swatch, you’re not really knitting the way you would knit when you spend a couple of hours working on the body of a sweater while binging your favorite Netflix show. We all tend to loosen up a bit as we knit for longer periods of time and a large swatch helps mimic your natural knitting. A swatch that is closer to your natural knitting rhythm will yield a more trustworthy gauge swatch and a more accurate final project.

How You Feel While You’re Knitting

The mood you’re in on any given day can also affect your gauge! If you knit a small swatch while you’re really stressed out after a hard day at work, imagine how much tighter your tension will be than if you knit that same small swatch after a couple of glasses of wine on a Saturday. Neither will be an accurate representation of your gauge! Knitting a larger swatch will help alleviate any quirks in tension caused by any good or bad emotions you might be feeling that day.

A Small Difference In Gauge Makes A Big Difference In Final Project

So we convinced you and you’ve knit a nice big gauge swatch, now it’s time to count your stitches per inch. (We’ll cover this in more detail in the next post.) You realize that instead of your gauge being 5 stitches per inch on the nose, it’s 5.25 stitches. It’s such a small difference, you might be tempted to say that it’s good enough and knit your final project.

But a ¼ stitch difference per inch across an entire garment really adds up. Let’s say you’re making a sweater with a gauge of 5 stitches per inch. If your sweater’s total circumference is 38”, at 5 stitches per inch, the pattern would ask you to cast on 190 stitches. If you cast on those 190 stitches with a gauge of 5.25 stitches per inch, your final garment will actually measure about 36”. You’ll lose two whole inches of circumference from that little difference!

Now, if you really wanted to keep your gauge of 5.25 stitches per inch, you could do a bunch of math to make your pattern fit your gauge. But that’s a post for a different day.

Everyone Knits Differently

This is really important when you’re following patterns. Your gauge with a worsted weight yarn on US 7 needles is most likely different than what the pattern author’s gauge is with the same yarn and needles. Take a look at these two swatches of Valley Yarn Northampton:

Valley Yarns Northampton Swatches | two different knitters

At first glance, you might think these two swatches are knit on drastically different size needles. However, they’re the same yarn on the same needles knit by two different people! It’s the perfect example of why you can’t assume that your knitting is going to match the knitting of a pattern designer.

TL;DR? Swatching is key to insure that you’re knitting at the correct gauge for the pattern you’re following. It will ultimately save you a lot of time and frustration. There’s no better feeling than being able to trust your knitting and follow a pattern without fear that your end result won’t fit properly.

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