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Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along: Gauge Swatch and Casting On!

Hello and welcome back to the Wisteria KAL! Hopefully you've had time to get your yarn and needles together because it's time to dive into the the pattern with the all-important gauge swatch. Determining your gauge is crucial for getting on the road to a successful finished sweater. When you take to time to find the needle size that gives you the gauge of the pattern, you will be on your way to a sweater that actually turns out the size you want it to be!

The gauge of this pattern is 17 stitches over 4 inches (4.25 sts/in) and 24 rows over 4 inches (6 rows/in). To make a gauge swatch for this project, I recommend casting on at least 25 stitches and working for at least 30 rows so you have a nice large swatch to measure over. After I bind off my swatch, I measure both the stitch and row gauge by lining up a rule at the edge of one stitch and counting how many stitches fill 4 inches (see photos below). Make a note of these numbers, then wash and block your swatch. This is important as many yarns change slightly after washing, either shrinking slightly or very often "blooming" and getting a bit looser, so if you ever plan to get your finished sweater wet, wash your swatch! To do so, I soak my swatch in a sink of water for 10 minutes, gently squeeze out the excess water, then lay it out flat to dry. If you are using a cotton yarn for this pullover, you may want to spray block your swatch instead by laying it flat and wetting with a spray bottle. Once dry, re-measure your swatch as shown:
Stitch gaugeRow gauge
Before blocking, using a size 8 needle with Amazing (in Constellation) I had 18 stitches and 25 rows over 4" x 4", but after blocking I (magically!) had the exact pattern gauge of 17 stitches and 24 rows! It is not always possible to get both the stitch and row gauge on one needle size, so use the needle size that gives you the correct stitch gauge, but make sure to make a note of your row gauge with that needle size because that will become important when we get to the sleeves. If your first swatch does not result in the correct gauge, make another! If you have more than 17 stitches, your gauge is too tight so try a larger needle; if you have less than 17 stitches, your gauge is too loose so try a smaller needle. You can see more about gauge here.

Once you have determined the needle you need to use to get gauge, let's talk about the pattern itself. Some of you have been posing questions about knitting in the round and the use of circular needles, so let's start there. As far as choosing what type of needle to use, straight needles are perfectly fine for this project as all pieces are knit flat, but you also have the option of using a circular needle to better accommodate the number of stitches for each piece. Since I do a lot of my knitting on the subway in very cramped quarters, I tend to knit most things on circular needles to avoid jabbing the people next to me! My preference is for 29-32" circulars, but for this pattern anywhere from 24" and up will hold the number of stitches just fine. Just because you are using a circular needle does not mean you are knitting in the round. Instead, treat them just as you do your straight needles by turning your work at the end of each row and working back.

Some of you, however, have asked about converting this pattern to work it in the round, so let me talk about some pros and cons. I know many people dislike the seaming involved in making a sweater in pieces, and I understand the feeling. Often times, however, when a pattern is written in pieces instead of in the round there is a reason: seams provided structure to a sweater so it is less likely to stretch out of shape. This is great to keep in mind for any sweater but especially in this case where the pullover already has a relaxed fit. Although I love knitting in the round as well, I've learned from doing other sweaters that sewing seams isn't that bad and can actually be a very rewarding finishing step. A later post will cover all of the different seaming techniques you'll need to finish this garment beautifully.

Another important consideration if you still want to work this sweater in the round is to keep in mind what type of yarn you are using: self-striping or a solid color. When working a sweater in the round, you will eventually have to transition to working flat after dividing for the neckline and armholes. If using the recommended yarn, Amazing, the stripes will be much thinner when working the round and will then become much wider when you start working back and forth in rows, which may not be a look you want your sweater to have.

If you are using a solid yarn this is not a concern, so feel free to work as you wish keeping the stretch factor in mind. To convert to in-the-round, you generally want to take the cast on number for the back plus the cast on for the front, subtract 4 (2 stitches each side allowed for seaming) and cast on that many stitches. Adjust this number as needed to make it divisible by 4 so that the 2x2 ribbing still works out. Please keep in mind if you choose to work in the round that I will be working my sweater in pieces and the upcoming posts will focus on pieced construction.

As you start by casting on for the pullover, one final consideration to make is how long you want the body to be. As written, you work for 14 inches to the underarms, but this length is easily adjusted. The pattern does not have waist shaping, so you are free to make the body as long as you wish - this is why this is such a great unisex pattern! If you are following instructions for the similar Newcastle Pullover, the body for that version is already written as 17 inches to the armholes, 3 inches longer than the Wisteria. I suggest measuring a sweater you like the fit of, this time for length, to figure out how long you want to make the body of your sweater. Make a note of this length (I like writing all over my copy of patterns!) because if you make a change it will come into play when we work the front in a couple of weeks.

For now, figure out your gauge and then feel free to get going on the back of your sweater! It starts with three inches of a 2x2 rib (knit 2, purl 2) followed by your desired length to the armholes of stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row). Next week I'll talk more about the back of your sweater and how to shape the armholes. Enjoy and see you next week!

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  • Darlene

    YaY! Excited over here in California!!

  • Kelly Halley

    I cast on last night. Had to move down to size 7 needles. I'm using Amazing in Acadia. This is my first sweater and excited but just know I'll fall behind. Looking forward to reading everyone's posts.

  • How's everyone else doing with this. I'm well on my way. I like tunics so I'm going to make this extra long.

  • Donna

    I'm ready to cast on!  I'm excited :O)

  • Darkhorse06

    I cast on, too, but there were some significant concerns about this pattern in the comments section of the original pattern.  I hope we address those problems here before we get to those sections! 

  • Stammisfam

    Do you have any suggestions on how I can make my edges neat so my seams end up even and flat?

  • Paul Haskins

    Hello Kendra.......

    My name is Paul, I am retired, and I have enjoyed following along with a few Knit-Alongs over the last year or so but have never actually undertaken the project along with you.  This time I decided to try it for myself.  I have spent a couple hours mentally trying parts and rewriting the pattern to work in simple bulky knitting machine terminology as I am not a hand knitter but have been making sweaters of all sizes and childrens clothing for many years on the three knitting machines that I currently own. 

    I started with the small size of this sweater and so far I have finished the back, front, and neck ribbing and assembled them.  I decided to go with 2 x 1 ribbing since I prefer the look of that ribbing over 2 x 2 ribbing.  I have finished one sleeve and will spend a few minutes this afternoon finishing the second sleeve. 

    I am using Forrest Green Heather Wool-Ease since I already had many ball of it waiting for an idea to hit me.  I will also be making a second sweater to perfect the machine pattern while I follow along with your Knit-Along project.  I try to finish as many seams as possible on the machine but I can see that I will have to revert to hand sewing to join the sleeve of this one with the sweater body.  I hope to finish a large and a childs size 24 by the time you are finished with the Knit-Along - wish me luck.  Lion Brand yarn has been a favorite of mine for a long time now and really enjoy having all those quality free patterns available on the net.  Well back to work................. Thank you .......... Paul

  • Tjcoll

    I cast on and started ribbing.  I don't think I'll have problems until I get to the collar.  HOpe it's not too hard.  Good luck to all.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wzrdreams Grace Jones

    Ah! I feel behind already! Too many WIPS!!! I know I can get gauge on size 8s with Amazing, so I am tempted to just dive it. I know better though. I need to swatch.

  •  My "Amazing" yarn ~ in the colorway 'Constellation' arrived today!  I'll do my gauge swatch tonight and block it so that I can get started tomorrow!  Thanks for all the detailed information.  Maybe I WILL try doing the sweater in pieces...   ;-)

  • Llogue82

    uh oh I am still waiting for my yarn I mail ordered

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rebecca-Kilpatrick-Curlett/572551714 Rebecca Kilpatrick Curlett

    Still waiting for my yarn! Can't wait until it arrives!

  • Cmans

    Hello there! I never thought about washing my swatch. What a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Teaweavers

    Just read my Lion Brand email and this caught my eye. Love the amazing yarn.  I have never done a knit along or a sweater and I am very tempted to try this one.  As some are still waiting for their yarn-I just might try this one. First step a swatch..... that'll be a first also.   :)

  • Rhonda

    I started my ribbing, and it's my first sweater to make.  Kinda of nervous about putting the work into something I may not be able to wear.  Ha!  I guess I need to make the swatch, I'm sure it will be worth the time.  Looking forward to working together with everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ana-Lewis/100000296982023 Ana Lewis

    I am using Wool-Ease.  I never thought of making the swatch bigger or washing it.  i will try that, as i have made two swatches already and my knitting is still too loose.  I I go down on needle size, does that affect the needle size used for the ribbing?

  • http://www.facebook.com/umozam Umoza Mzizi

    I just cast on and I found the most yummy solid Teal in Vanna's Choice.  This is my second KAL, I am just finishing up on the Saturday Morning Hoodie from last season.  I hope to be more in line with everyone else with this one.  I have MS and R-Arthritis and it is getting colder.  So wish me luck and good luck to everyone!

  • Tmonte632

    I want to knit along and am excited I found this blog.  How do I get the pattern and material list?  I'm unable to locate it.

  • Cyndeebee

    I'm a late starter, too, but I'm definitely going to give this one a try.  I'm a fairly experienced knitter, but I know that I would be delayed if I have to place an order for yarn, then wait.  I live in Canada.  So I will do the gauge test with a substitute yarn.  This is so exciting!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Leonardi/1159156150 Karen Leonardi

    I'm still waiting for my yarn, but I'm excited to get started, this is my first sweater and first swatch. I think the swatch has me more afraid!

  • Joyfulbmd

    I am hoping my yarn comes tomorrow. Also hoping there will be a way to see everyone's color and yarn choices made up. It was hard to choose from several tempting Amazing colorways.

  • Susan Koutnik

    I got started late on last year's hoodie. I am ahead of the game this time. I just bound off my back. Tomorrow I will cast on for the front. I am a little worried about the size. I didnt wash my swatch. It turned out large so I reduce my needle sizes. The back finished measures perfectly. I dont mind if it stretches out a little but will be unhappy if it tightens up upon washing. Sigh! it may end up a Christmas gift. I used Vanna's choice. Can anyone tell me how it reacts to washing?

  • nobodyssister

    Is that Amazing yarn that's pictured in your swatch, Kendra? If so, what colorway?

  • Scrapncynthia

    Will die lot matter in the Amazing color scheme? Also, what type of cast-on method do you recommend for the ribbing? I usually do a knit on cast on. Would this work? I've learned some others, and can brush up on one, if there is one you would recommend.

  • karen

    Although the patterns look exactly the same, the Lodge Pullover looks much shorter than the Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover, why is this?

  • Deejaybee

    I had enough yarn in my stash to get started right away last Thursday. Swatch came out perfect so I cast on for the back. The yarn I choose is an alpaca blend and with the 3" of ribbing done it is wonderful. I plan on making the longer version. I'm excited to be knitting along with all of you. Have fun :)

  • themislea

    to get a really neat edge that is easy to seam, always slip the first stitch as if to knit, and purl the last stitch.  the edge will look like a chain stitch (except for the bumps where you forget--at least i always have a few) and it is so much easier to keep the rows even as you sew it up.

  • LininCali

    What cast-on method do you recommend?  Tubular?

  • Traudi

    I want to do this one!  What yarns, other than Amazing are people using?  Getting ready to swatch

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570892527 Kimberly McKenna Junkins

    I'm not new to knitting but feel I know just enough to be dangerous! I started the sweater last weekend, I've finished the armhole shaping. I really wish I'd waited because I had no idea about doing the gauge as above. I've always knit the number of stitches, rows and measured. I did do a gauge, I had to reduce the size of my needles. Hopefully not doing the gauge as above won't become a problem later.

  • Kymast

    Bought yarn and i will be going to a conference for a week, so this will give me something to do. Can't Wait to get started this weekend before i hit the road.
    Happy Knitting Everyone!

  • Speaking of gauge...
    I've done two swatches.  My need sizers are packed away (my house is for sale) so I'm guessing on needle sizes.  My first swatch (before washing ~ they're soaking in hot water right now) is 18(w) X 17(h) and the second one (which looks much smaller than the first) measures 17 x 16.  I appear to be close on stitch gauge but WAY off on row gauge.  Do I do anything to try to correct this?  When I 'block' the swatches, do I pin them out, slightly stretched as when blocking lace or just let them dry flat?

    How embarrassing to be this confused when I haven't even cast on yet!  ;-)

  • Louise Elaine Bowman

    How snug is the ribbing at bottom of sweater?  Could it be knitted with the larger needles or would that make it too loose?  Is there any looser-type stitch that would work well around the bottom?

  • nobodyssister

    I think I found the pattern's first mistake. It says for K2 P2 rib - Knit the knit stitches and purl the purls. Really?  That's what I did and I'm getting some funky double seed stitch.  Knitpicks says purl the knit stitches and knit the purls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rebecca-Kilpatrick-Curlett/572551714 Rebecca Kilpatrick Curlett

    Did my swatches last night, and cast on today. I'm about an inch into the ribbing and I'm loving the Amazing Arcadia!

  • Ann N from Florida

    I am starting my decreases for the arm holes now.  I also never thought to wash the swatch after knitting  OOOOps I sure hope all this work is not for nothing!  I am making it for my daughter who never got back to me about size before I started so she better stick to her diet.

  • ebowman

    Purchased yarn today.  Decided on something different.  Bought Berroco Vintage.  The color is sort of hard to describe.  Think 3 strands of midnight blue twisted with 1 strand of deep red.  Really pretty.  Any suggestions for alternative beginnings?  I do not have the figure to be accentuated by snug ribbing.  This is my first sweater.  Should I just use the larger needles create loose hanging ribbing or should I try a different type of stitch? 

  • Bonniecand

    I think I will knit blanks to solve the 'stripes getting wider' issue when I start decreasing for the armholes.  I will mark the stitches I have to decrease with a short piece of a different yarn and then do a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine before cutting out the armholes and neck opening.  I know this is way out for this KAL, but I don't like the changes when the width gets narrower.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mia-Svensson/1173240917 Mia Svensson

    Since I´m knitting for my BJD, I had to recalculate the sts needed (58 sts). On the front, you bind of the center 18 sts. Should that nr be the same considering I´m doing it 3 sizes smaller? It seams a little big...

  • Kristi

    I am so glad you talked about knitting in the round because I was going to do this.  I want to try to make this by continental knitting method, but I think I will save that for an afgan for something that isn't fitted.  I am nervous about the guage and if I get tired and switch back to the English method, it could create changes in the gauge.  I think I am going to use the round needles though as it gets so heavy on the straight needles and I feel more comfortable when I stop knitting pushing both sides between the needles and not losing stitches. 

    Finally, thank you for further educating me on gauge swatching.  I didn't know about washing first then remeasuring.  That is going to be very helpful.  I hope I can get this going by next week, so I am not behind. 

  • With the random color changes of the 'Amazing' yarn, I can't imagine that there is ANY way to match the striping of the front and back...

  • allison

    ok, almost done with the ribbing and just measured it, it came out at 20 in slightly stretched (for a large- which should be at 23in), if streched more it does reach the 23 but looks stretched. . . .should i be worried or wait till i get up into the body more and then measure. fyi, after doing my gauge i realized that i needed to knit with size 6 which means size 4 for ribbing. . . should i do ribbing in a larger # and rip out what is done or just relax and let it be :) (i am knitting in Vanna's choice)

  • Abbaltazar84

    Hi, I'm Amy, this is the first sweater I'm knitting...I've tried knitting gauge swatches before but never thought to wash them.  Luckily, it came out about 4 inches for 24 rows.  But I noticed as I'm knitting the body of the sweater my gauge is off.  It's a couple rows longer than 24 rows for 4"...is this okay?  Will it shrink like the gauge swatch did, after soaking in water?  I'm not sure how to measure to the armholes...well, it's only a sweater.  I think it'll be okay.  I'm just continuing to knit now like there are 6 rows to the inch instead of 4 or 5 rows to the inch.

    Thank you for your help:-)

  • Ana Lewis83

    So I've cast on. Since I had to go down to sz 7 needles, I am knitting the ribbing with sz 5. But my width is only 15 inches , not 19 inches. Will it get to 19 when I start the stockinette stitch?

  • http://www.facebook.com/EliseMcGA Elise Anderson

    I did my test swatch and I'm good to go on #8 and I'm happily started on the back. Starting is always difficult, I think I ripped it out 3x's before getting it right. My teenage daughter share my needles with me, so I'm down to 2 different #6's (she doesn't know where the matches have gotten to!). So barring that challenge- long and short, wood and metal, I've finally got a few good rows behind me!

  • Llogue82

    Pattern says to finish on WS on ribbing but both sides look the same to me. Does this matter or can I just go to stockinette after ribbing is 3 inches?

  • I'm afraid to even ask this but here goes...
    I'm up to the armhole opening on the back of my sweater and it's apparent that it's going to be too small for me ~ based on the measurements.  It measures 19 inches across and is 15 inches long before starting the arm opening.  I want it a little longer than the photo so am deliberately doing that.  My (stupid) question is:  since I am on track to knitting the pattern in small (which is what I chose based on the measurements given and the fact that everyone said it runs large) but I actually want it in a medium or large!  Since there are only 4 inches different in the width of a small and a large, would it be possible for me to just make the front piece four inches wider?   I'm thinking this would move the side seams back 2 inches on each side but would that necessarily be too terrible?  I figure the back is flat anyway so it shouldn't matter if it stretches a bit but I want the front to fit right. 

    Am I totally off my rocker?  Should I just rip out the whole thing and start over?

    It's SO pretty!!!

  • Nunez Kim

    This is the cutest ever!  I knit too slow....I have been scouring the internet looking for a similar pattern in crochet with no luck at all!

  • Ann N from Florida

    I didn't see an answer to my question so I'll ask again.  Why in the medium at the top of the back do you end up with 70 stitches, 16, 38, 16 but a the top of front instead of the 16 you have 18 stitches?  I put the 38 onto a stitch holder to save having to pick them up when I start the collar is that a good or bad idea?

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/10/05/wisteria-shawl-collar-pullover-knit-along-working-the-back-and-armholes/ Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along: Working the Back and Armholes | Lion Brand Notebook

    [...] Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along: Gauge Swatch and Casting On [...]

  • Bonniecand

    You will find that not casting off and picking up stitches won't give the back of the neck enough stability and it will streeeetch out of shape.  Experienced that myself.


    Thanks for sharing.


  • Grandsan6, Australia

    Help!!!I am trying to find where the pattern/garment sizes, stitch numbers and quantity required are and cannot find it. I am new to the site and am using that as an excuse although I have looked. Being in Australia,our wool is normally graded by 'ply' but going from what I have read from other blogs, this pattern requires size 8 needles. Is that 8us thus 4mm? could you bet back to me asap so I can get started. Thanks, Sandra

  • http://twitter.com/louiegthor laurie thornton

    Hi, my name is laurie and I've knit and crocheted for many years, just little things, a sweater I began and am about 3/4's of the way through.  I'm hoping with this KAL, maybe afterward, I'll gain the confidence to finish it.
    Usually, I'm right on with swatch work, but this time I'm on my fourth swatch, I'm up to size 10 and my gauge is at
    18 stitches and 26 rows.
    Surprisingly, over 7,8 and 9 (size) there is only one or two stitch and row differences.  Any thoughts?
    I would appreciate any insight.
    Thank you.  I love this idea of knitting along!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sallykwright Sally Burke

    Ok, so I've tried a gauge swatch twice on size 8 needles....and I'm getting about 19 stitches per inch. I live very rurally and can't run out to buy larger needles. I've only got size 6 and 8 needed for the pattern. I've done the math to figure out that at my current gauge, a Medium will come out to a Small chest measurement. Since we're doing all of the length measurements in inches, and not in rows, can I cheat and just size up my pattern? I'd really like to get started and it will be days before I can go to town for new needles!

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/10/12/wisteria-shawl-collar-pullover-knit-along-working-the-front/ Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along: Working the Front! | Lion Brand Notebook

    [...] Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover: Gauge Swatch and Casting On [...]

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/10/19/wisteria-shawl-collar-pullover-kal-time-for-sleeves-and-blocking/ Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Time for Sleeves and Blocking | Lion Brand Notebook

    [...] a bit tricky, but we’ll make it through with the help of our row gauge. Remember back in the post about gauge when I told you to go with the needle size that gives you stitch gauge but to know what your row [...]

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/11/02/wisteria-shawl-collar-pullover-kal-the-final-seams/ Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: The Final Seams! | Lion Brand Notebook

    [...] Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover: Gauge Swatch and Casting On [...]

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