Joining in the Round

Ice Storm: Long Cowl

Ice Storm: Long Cowl with a long cast on to join in the round

How can you avoid the dreaded twist when joining in the round? Why, when you are reaaaaaalllly sure it isn’t twisted, does it turn out to be twisted a few rounds later? Is there any way to fix a twist?

There are a few tricks, for novices and more experienced knitters alike. I want to share these today because they’re relevant to the Slipstream mysteries.

First off, joining in the round is not something to do on a moving bus unless you’ve had a LOT of practice! Until then, I recommend sitting at a table so you can see that your stitches are really flat. Turn the TV off.

Personally, I rarely join in the round immediately. I usually work a few rounds flat first and then sew the tiny gap closed using the tail of yarn from the cast-on. No-one will see.

I appreciate you need to be experienced enough – or know someone who is – to convert the instructions in the round for the wrong-side flat rows. If it’s a simple start, like a rib, then you just need to work the stitches as they lie from the previous row. Get some help decoding the pattern for the wrong side, until you’ve had some practice at this.

You need to work an odd number of rounds flat before joining – I’m assuming your first round is a right-side round here. When you join in the round you are effectively continuing knitting the flat row you are on, so you need to be on a right side row. This means you would usually join after 1, 3 or even 5 “rounds” worked flat.

Even just that one row of stitches after the cast-on makes a big difference. I usually go for 3 rounds. You can definitely see if it’s twisted at this stage. More rows than this and the flat/round cheating starts to be difficult to hide. I wouldn’t recommend more than 5 rounds worked flat because by now even a non-knitter might notice the join.

Once you have joined in the round (and of course it can be after the cast on if you wish), it’s important to check it’s not twisted after the next round too. This is because you can fix a twist at the end of the first circular round. Yes, really. That first round is only joined by one strand of a stitch, so you can twist your work around that single thread. Wise Hilda has written a bit more about this, if you need further explanation.

I really only feel that my work is safely joined in the round after two or three circular rounds. Then there are two or three strands of yarn holding the work in the right place.

I think this might be one of the reasons why knitters are sometimes certain they’ve joined in the round and then it turns out to be twisted a few rounds later. I suspect the work is twisting around that single strand at the end of the first round. Check your work at the end of each round for the first three rounds – it takes moments and saves tantrums.

I admit I have seen a knitter force the twist back out of their work after a second twisted round. You’re still only twisting two strands of yarn around each other to get the work back to flat. You have to look pretty closely to see the fudge, especially when you’ve a yarn-tail hanging there, ready to use to help tidy it up at the end. I sense the purists who are reading this are shuddering in horror, whilst the novices smile with relief!

As I’ve said before, there is no single right way to do anything in knitting; just the way that is right for you. For some people the best way to knit in the round will be to work flat and seam it. Seriously. This is a perfectly valid solution. If you can make your chosen pattern work for you this way, that’s just fine. (Since we’re talking a lot about Slipstream at the moment, I must add that whilst it’s technically possible I wouldn’t recommend tackling these worked flat; they are much easier in the round.)

Foolproof

Foolproof: there’s no single right way to make a project in the round!

If you’re really struggling with a circular project, why not try Foolproof instead. Now that’s another story altogether, isn’t it?

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4 thoughts on “Joining in the Round

  1. I always do at least one row before joining because I don’t like the reverse side of the cable cast-on as much as the right side.
    Once I have joined in the round after the first row I I either sew the cast on edge together with the tail at that point, or I use a Clover plastic safety pin to join the edge and leave the stitching in of the tail until later.

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