Converting a Pattern to Knit in the Round

I will be hosting the Fall in Love with Outlander Knit-A-Long, which features patterns from Outlander Knitting –The Official Book of the Outlander Series and the Outlander Kit Collection. This should be fun as everyone involved will be knitting the patterns of their choice from the book. My job is to facilitate and provide resources, encouragement, and support to the group.

Library Vest for Knit A Long

I have chosen the Library Vest to knit and can hardly wait to get started. This pattern is designed to be knitted flat then seamed. Initially, I decided I would follow the directions to knit the front and back sections flat then seam the sides and shoulders. I prefer to knit in the round (with no side seams), and since I’ve knitted enough to know that I cannot join the directions for the front and back and end up with a correct fit, I decided to do a little research into the process of converting a pattern designed to be knitted flat to one in the round. I learned a lot:

  • Not all patterns are suitable for converting to in-the-round knitting.
  • The number of stitches will need to be adjusted.
  • If using a chart for a pattern, you need to read the pattern differently.
  • Stitch patterns will be knitted differently.

As I noted above, not all patterns are suitable for converting to in-the-round knitting. Designers may want a garment to be seamed because the seams can add shape and structure to the finished garment. If you are considering converting a favorite pattern, take a close look at the structure of the garment. You will be able to tell whether the seams are there for structure.

When a pattern is designed to be knitted flat, it includes two stitches (one on each side) for the seams. If you think about it, those stitches are needed because they will be absorbed in the seam. To convert my vest pattern, I will need to subtract two stitches from the front and two from the back (a total of four stitches). Although my pattern has cables, they do not extend close to the sides, so removing four stitches on the sides for seams will not disrupt the overall pattern.

Complicated patterns designed to be knitted flat may be more challenging to convert to in-the-round. You will need to reverse the directions (reading backward and opposite) given for the wrong side. When knitting in the round, you are always working on the public side of the garment. Follow the directions as written for the right side but reverse them on the next round when you would be knitting the wrong side. For example, when I knit the ribbing for my vest, I will K2, P2 on the first round (public side) and P2 K2 on the second round. Once I have knitted a couple of rounds, the pattern becomes clear and is easy to see.

The lovely cables of my vest pattern present a different challenge. This is where having a chart helps. Charts for flat knitting are read from right to left for row one, then left to right for row two, etc. Charts for in-the-round knitting read from right to left for every row. When knitting in the round, remember that the pattern for the second round that would normally be the wrong side of the garment is backward and opposite. For example, a seed stitch pattern is K1, P1 on round one, and P1, K1 on the second round. This is also something to keep in mind when increasing and decreasing. I have included a video by Very Pink Knits, in case you are interested in a little more information.

My recommendation is to start with a simple conversion and decide how complicated it will be to achieve an in-the-round pattern. You might want to rewrite the directions or re-draw your chart. The cables on my vest are the same, so once I have converted one set, I am good to go for the rest of the sweater. I love a challenge, and this one really appeals to me. I will let you know how it works out. Wish me luck and join us for the Fall in Love with Outlander Knit-A-Long.