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Knitting in the Round and Blocking Part 1

First post in this new blog and I should introduce myself.  I'm Sharon, owner of and worker at Great British Yarns.  Assisted by husband, Ian who does the accounts and stock control, in the form of 'don't buy anything else' and Daisy the dog, who likes to stand on my printer when I'm in the warehouse.  That's it really.  We live in a hamlet a few miles south of Perth, Scotland.  Originally from Bath, this is a little different, but beautiful and we love living here.

Now, down to the real business of the blog.  A discussion of knitting and other things.  I would love to receive comments, preferably helpful ones on how you've improved your knitting.   This week I started a very pretty lacy top for my 6 month old grand daughter.  It's knitted in the round, apart from the first couple of inches which is knitted to and fro for the neck opening.  Nothing sinister so far.  Here is a link to the pattern. Little Erantis Top by Knitting for Sif.  I'm using Krea Deluxe Organic Cotton for this top as it is a good quality cotton that's machine washable so perfect for young children.  I'm using 3.00 mm needles and so that's all ok.  Did I swatch?  Nooooo, but I've used this particular cotton before (and I mean this particular cotton as it's been unpicked several times) and I'm not too worried about the size but mostly I'm lazy.   
Little Erantis Top

Anyway, leaving the 'To Swatch or Not to Swatch' question for another time, I cast on and worked backwards and forwards for slightly more than the allotted amount, due to watching 'A Place in The Sun' and wondering whether Portugal, Spain or Greece is the preferred spot for our new holiday apartment.  Eventually I remembered sun and heat aren't my friends, we don't have the funds for a holiday apartment and that something didn't look right.  Not to worry, I thought I'd add a ribbed band fastening because I can't crochet a loop as the pattern demands in any case.

So I carried on and joined the knitting in the round and merrily set off knitting, doing yarn overs and moving stitch markers with impressive speed and dexterity.  However, a few rounds down and I can see that things aren't as beautiful as anticipated.  There is a definite difference in tension between the back and forth knitting and knitting in the round.  It's really noticeable to my eye.  I asked Ian but he said he couldn't see a thing, but then added 'once you've come out of the rib'.  What rib?  That was a little disappointing to say the least.  I spent quite some time wondering whether to unpick, but thought that wouldn't work unless I then steeked it and come on, this is a baby top.  So I spoke to daughter about it.  She said it didn't matter as Isobel would immediately be sick on it so the state of the stitches would probably be immaterial.  I'm ploughing on and am hoping this will come out when blocked.  If you have any ideas, comments, hints or tips on this, do please let me know.  Although I probably won't unpick this one.
Strange Tension

Created On  14 Feb 2021 11:30 in What's Happening at GBY?  -  Permalink


Congrats on your first blog post! I understand how you feel completely. I do remember someone like Elizabeth Zimmerman saying that one reason the knitting looks so even and perfect on garments that have survived 100 years or that the garment had been worn and washed several times...and that eventually any differences in gauge in the garment evened out by this "tug and pull" of usage. So basically, she was saying they weren't more "perfect knitters" than we are...we're just seeing the effects of time making the stitches more even.

Anyway, it's a good story!
Posted By: Marie Raymond - 19 Feb 2021 12:29
Love your blog! What a pretty top. Those stitches look like a deliberate subtle patterning knitting into the back of the stitch. Anyway, your daughter is right. This top will be in the washing machine as much as it is worn!! Cotton is wonderful!
Posted By: Jo - 19 Feb 2021 12:38
Hello Sharon,
I read your first blog with my mug of morning coffee. Well done, I hope it’s the first of many.
The change in tension may not be noticeable after washing the little dress but if it is how about a series of embroidered flowers, or haberdashery depts sell tape with ready made flowers to sew across the line?
Do post a photo of the finished article. We all learn from each other. Julia
Posted By: Julia - 19 Feb 2021 12:52
Hi Sharon
Congratulations on starting your blog. It made me chuckle to read about you pondering over a holiday home - I have similar flights of fancy but then also have to come back down to earth.
Heather Storta has a useful short You Tube video which might help with your tension issue -
Posted By: Helen - 19 Feb 2021 13:16
Great to read the blog. I always have this problem and have found that knitting in the round I go up a needle size and this evens it out. I also sometimes have this problem when going from the main bit of a garment to the sleeves which are so much smaller. I think I knit tighter in a smaller circumference. Or just block it or pretend that is what it is supposed to look like!!

As others have said the washing and wearing should even it out. And she won't be in it long before you need to knit another one or something else.
Posted By: Morag Duller - 19 Feb 2021 13:30
Hello Sharon, I read quite a while ago that peoples tension might differ when using a circular needle and straight needles on the same piece. Had never thought about it before until I read. The pattern is pretty though.

Posted By: Avril - 19 Feb 2021 14:12
As Morag said I have discovered that when I knit small circumference in the round I knit tighter. Only realised this after knitting 3 pairs of socks on 9" circular and looked at them alongside a pair knitted on 2mm DPNs. I checked again with another pair of 2mm DPN knitted ones and found that I had used 2.25mm Addi circular for pairs number1 and 2 then 2.5mm Chiaogoo circular needles for pair number 3. My gauge was exactly the same on all the pairs. I don't think that would have shown up on a swatch.
Posted By: Margaretta - 19 Feb 2021 17:12
Hi Sharon. I have really enjoyed this blog post. I had a problem when shifting from backwards and forwards knitting and knitting in the round. You could definitely see a difference in the tension between a knit row and a purl row. I tried all sorts of things to fix it but it just got worse. So much so that when I made a stocking stitch cardigan, someone said that they liked the ridge pattern on it!!

When I looked at the way I knitted, it turned out that I was leaving my left thumb on the right hand needle for a split second too long when I was purling and it was making the purl stitch a tiny bit looser. I have moved my thumb now and the tension is perfect but it has made my purl rows much slower.

Not sure if that helps at all. I always think that cotton is quite unforgiving for any difference in tension.
Posted By: Janine - 19 Feb 2021 21:22
Really enjoyed your blog and love looking at your wool! Once I've used a little more of my stash I hope to buy some from you!
Posted By: Josalyn - 21 Feb 2021 17:52

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