I have been working on the gauge swatch while waiting impatiently for the Nelkin Designs Circo Mystery Knitalong (MKAL).
I confess I often bypass making a gauge swatch for shawls, scarves and cowls because the are usually one size. However, for this project, which uses a gradient and every bit of the skein, it is important to make sure you are getting gauge so you have enough yarn.
This gauge swatch poses some challenges as it is 1x1 ribbing. When measure ribbing, you need to measure both the knit and purl stitches as shown below.
I have included Laura's instructions for working your gauge swatch from her Circo tips and techniques forum:
Working Your Gauge Swatch!
When I give gauge for a MKAL project it is given for a swatch that is blocked, but not stretched.
I wrote a whole “treatise” on working gauge swatches for my patterns here, but here is a synopses below of the steps you should take for working gauge for Circo Mystery Cowl KAL!
If working with a gradient use the inside of your ball, this will be the last part of yarn to be knit. This is important as I designed the cowl to have 10% of the skein leftover (if you are working with a 400 yard skein). If you use a gradient and run out towards the end you’ll have your gauge swatch at the correct point in the color sequence to finish off with. But if you get gauge you shouldn’t have a problem!
- Cast on at least 6 sts more than called for in the gauge. For Circo Mystery KAL this would be 34 sts. Use the needle size called for. If you know you knit loosely, then go down a needle size. If you knit tightly, go up!
- Knit in 1 x 1 rib (k1, p1) for at least 4 inches. Bind off LOOSELY!
- Soak your swatch in warm water for 5 minutes, if not longer. You can use a little wool wash if you want, but it’s not necessary.
- Take your swatch out of it’s bath and squeeze out all the water in a towel.
- Lay out your swatch flat. I use my ironing board for this as things dry quickly on it and it’s surface can get wet! I smooth out the swatch, but I DO NOT pin it.
- Let dry completely.
- Measure your stitch gauge. You want to do this over multiple inches, making sure you keep away from the edges to get an accurate stitch count. This is why you are casting on 6 more stitches than called for. If you get 27.5 or 28.5 sts/4 inches I wouldn’t re-swatch, but if the margin of error is bigger than that… I would!
You can also measure your row gauge BUT in this project the stitch gauge is more important so it’s not necessary to get too worried about it!