Jane here. Last week I, rather excitedly, told you about making my first ever F.O. (finished object)

It’s time to move on to my second project. I’m working through the learn to knit book by PomPom – ‘Knit How’.

Project two is a cowl offered up in three different stitch patterns. I chose the moss stitch version because I like the look of the fabric it creates.

Pom Pom Press, who publish this book, are London based – so when they say moss stitch, they mean British Moss Stitch – which I believe is also known as American Seed Stitch.

Cast on an odd number of stitches and k1, p1 to the last stitch, k1. Repeat.

Perhaps you could tell me what this stitch is known as where you are?

The suggested needle size for this pattern is 8mm (US 11) and the yarn is chunky. The largest needles I have are 6mm (US 10) so I pop round to the nearest shop and pick up another new set of needles.

I wish I hadn’t bothered. I didn’t get gauge. After blocking the swatch I felt that I would need a 7mm needle to meet the required gauge, which I don’t have. I wonder, what will happen if I use the 6mm? Can you guess? Ah well. It’s a cowl – it doesn’t need to “fit” as such. I look at the two swatches; one over and one under gauge and decide I prefer the fabric made on the 6mm needles. In the image below you can see both swatches – I chose the one on the left.

Blue Moss Stitch Knit Swatches in Como Blue New Lanark Chunky Wool Yarn

Moss stitch creates an interesting textural fabric, very pleasing in look and feel. This is a stitch I think I’ll enjoy using in future.

The yarn I’m using is New Lanark Chunky 100% Pure New Wool, in Como.

Once I got into the rhythm of k1, p1 with this chunky yarn it was plain sailing. 

It’s one long length of knitting, mattress stitch the ends together and…ta da! I made a cowl. 

Another purchase, blocking mats and pins, came in useful to make the cowl nice and square after a quick wash.

Jane Knitting Moss British Moss Stitch Cowl in Blue, Como, Chunky Wool Yarn

I seem to have had a breakthrough with being able to read my knitting during this project. Maybe down to the chunky yarn, meaning the stitches are easier to see. I realise that this stitch pattern is essentially the same as 1×1 rib, but the resulting fabric is really different. By thinking about and understanding why this is, I eventually get the hang of looking at, and recognising, the stitch I’m about to work. I feel like I’ve cracked the code – thank you to everyone who has left advice about how to identify stitches!

Moss stitch – knit the purls and purl the knits. Rib – knit the knits and purl the purls. Bingo!

Rather than doubling the piece around the neck I decided to stop short of the pattern length to make a more snug-fitting, single loop.

The yarn is a dream to work. Quick and easy, in a lovely teal base with little bursts of orange, lilac, green and blue throughout. I think it co-ordinates well with the flecks in my Harris Tweed blazer.

Model wearing blue hand knit cowl and Harris Tweed Jacket

If you fancy giving the New Lanark Chunky a try you’ll find some of this Como Blue yarn in the shop. The pattern for the cowl is in the Knit How book, which we’ve also re-stocked after our first batch sold out.

My next project is going to be a hat – knit in the round. But I don’t have circular needles. While I weigh up the options I thought I would do some swatching.

Woman knitting swatch with Buachaille 100% wool yarn from Scotland

When making my mitts last week, I mentioned that my original swatch was useless because it was knit in garter stitch rather than stocking stitch. You may have noticed over the past few weeks that I’m quite methodical, if not scientific, in my learning. This is also how I work in my art practice. I’m making detailed notes and recording the outcomes of my knitting experiments. 

Inspired by a video tutorial I found online, I decide to practise the long tail cast-on and make some swatches to check how consistent my tension is. They are stockinette with a garter border, to stop the edges curling. 

Pink Heather (Hedder) hand knit Scottish wool yarn

After a wee bit of footering around, I’m totally sold on the long tail cast-on. It’s so quick and easy in comparison with the knitted cast-on I’ve been using up until now. 

Three swatches of different coloured yarn

And look at my lovely swatches!

I’ve since read various articles about how this type of swatching is not ideal but, heck, they make such pretty little objects. I love them. And, remarkably, the gauge is identical on all three.

So I record all the details – needle size, yarn type, etc – to affix to each swatch, and in my journal, for future reference.

Hand Knit Swatches in Stockinette with garter stitch border pink and grey

I very much enjoy this colour palette: three shades of Buachaille, 2 ply, worsted spun, 100% wool yarn in colours Squall, Hedder and Haar. Find them in the KDD & Co Shop.

I’m off now to learn to knit in the round!

59 thoughts on “Scientific Swatching and a Como Cowl

  1. Jane, just fell into your blog. How lovely. Thank you. Love your cowl & would have done exactly the same way, a snug cowl seems much better than twice around, doesn’t it? I learned k1 p1 as a knit stich from my grans, never learned that beautiful moss stich though have seen it & am going to try it in socks tonight. Looks so cozily warm. Will follow. Keep up the gorgeous work. Kris


  2. Hi Jane,
    Just came across your latest blog – your swatches are lovely, can’t believe you haven’t been knitting for years!
    In Australia it is called “moss stitch” and a swatch is also known as a tension square, and quite often Australian patterns use “tension” as a substitute for “gauge”.
    When I first learnt to knit over 50 years ago the internet would have been very helpful!
    Since a friend recommended checking out Kate’s designs 4 years ago I have been hooked, and have knitted her patterns and grown in my basic skills.
    And – thank heavens for You Tube!
    All the best,
    Sue, from South Australia.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Interesting! I’m a self taught knitter (2001) and I call this seed stitch. Moss stitch to me has always been two rows of k1, p1 before switching the order of the knits and purls. I’m enjoying reading about your knitting adventure. It reminds me exactly of when I learned to knit. Have fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yeah Jane! And also well done to all of the commmentors. So many positive, supportive wishes for you and your knitting. It feels like you have a host of proud knitting mentors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane, I am so enjoying this series of blog posts! Thank you so much for taking the time to lead us through your thought processes. You are making great progress; I wonder what you will try next? Please keep sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I call it Seed Stitch. Moss stitch, to me is other combinations of the offset knit/ purl set. [I learned to knit as a child in the US Midwest, mostly from books, that probably used old fashioned names.] Be aware that circular gauge is often different than flat, esp for beginners.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. I LOVE New Lanark yarn. THAT being said, I’ve been making 8×8 Remembrance Blankets for the USA Preemie Project. White soft yarn, and I use a Moss stitch for the border. I think it looks classy. Or, I’ve been making Knitted Knockers.

    My next project for me……definitely New Lanark yarn. wellllllll,,,,,,,, whenever that might be…


  8. I started out buying individual circular needles to match the projects I was doing, but I quickly wound up saving up for a set of interchangeable circular needles. I liked bamboo needles, so I got the Hiya Hiya bamboo set— I eventually became more of a metal needle fan and got the Hiya Hiyas in metal, and between Christmas and birthdays, I have all three sizes (tiny sock needles, US3-8, US9-15). They’ve been great— I use them for everything. :)


  9. Probably someone mentioned this already, but often people’s gauge in the round differs from their flat gauge. It might be worth checking on this to see if it is true for you.

    Your knitting is lovely and so even. You are going to be a rock star knitter!


  10. Lovely cowl, lovely colour.
    In New Zealand it’s moss stitch.
    if you carry on swatching like you are maybe you could sew them all together

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What an adventure for you and for us. And the ‘pressure’………haha Glad Danielle sent you to the knitting in the round swatch post. It is important. I too like the grain of Barley……….gerstekorrel Perfect .

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Keep on swatching! Sometimes when people ask me “what I knit” I just respond “swatches”. :-) Even if you’re not using them for a particular project, you’re building a visual source for how different yarns look with different needles. As a methodical visual artist, you’re no doubt well aware of this. So I say that to encourage you and others that might be reading.

    One of the former local yarn stores here (the now gone beloved Weaving Works) had swatches of every single yarn hanging up by the skeins. Especially when I was a newer knitter, it taught me that sometimes yarn works up much differently than I thought it might.
    When contemplating a new project, it’s also easier to get out the swatches and look through them than it is to go through an entire stash. (Plus they’re lovely to just feel and pet. :-) )

    I’m self taught here in the US in Seattle, and learned that as both “seed stitch” and “moss stitch”. Like others, I think I see “moss stitch” more and more. I wonder how much US knitting book editors have to do with that. Or the internet.

    Hooray that you are now able to read your knitting! That’s huge! Yay!


      1. Weaving Works is primarily an online store now, with classes and pop-up shopping and pick up in a suburb of Seattle called Lynnwood. Here is the address: 16825 48th Ave W, unit 130 Lynnwood, WA 98037


    1. In German this stitch is known as Perlmuster that means pearl pattern.
      Thank you for this question! I like reading how its called in other counties and what it is associated with

      Liked by 2 people

  13. In French, it’s called “point de riz” . It can be translated “rice stitch”

    And what we call “point mousse” (translation : “moss stitch”) is garter stitch…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I have read some of you comment about needles. I have a large collection of all types of needles, and could always add something new to it. I also have two daughters that knit … and “borrow” my needles!!! It’s the type of “borrowing” that never returns!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a few ‘rice stitches’ been mentioned now. That’s one I hadn’t heard before, but makes so much sense in describing the look of this stitch. – Jane


  15. American here, living in Italy, where the stitch is called punto riso or punto a grana di riso. Either would translate as “rice stitch.” (Not to be confused with another meaning of riso: “laughter”!)

    Keep up the good work, Jane, and give my regards to Kate and Tom and the rest of the crew.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Loving following your knitting journey, I’m also envious about how organised you are – all those lovely swatches. My knitting tends to be a bit chaotic and hit and miss, but I love these swatches so much, I’m going to try and be a bit more organised. Love the different names for moss stitch as well, it’s the great things about knitting always somethign new to discover.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your knitting is lovely. Please keep at it.
    I’ll be interested in hearing if your gauge changes when you switch to knitting in the round.
    A good set of interchangeable needles could change your life.


  18. Congratulations! I had been knitting for several years before I could read my knitting. You are progressing very quickly. Your knitting looks quite beautiful. I am anxiously awaiting your “in the round” swatch.


  19. I live in the U.S. and learned both names for this stitch pattern (Moss and Seed), and I tend to call it Moss Stitch, but then I read a lot of British crafters and watch a lot of BBC, so there’s that. I like it, but it can be tedious on a smaller gauge pattern. I like it a lot in chunky yarn (I’ve made two L’Enveloppes–pattern on ravelry–that use Moss stitch with chunky yarn and it turns out so well). Your cowl is beautiful–such even tension. I love that color too–such a lovely variegation.

    I’m curious why some people don’t like the garter border gauge swatch? I always swatch that way if the majority of the piece I’m making is stockinette. I do confess that I don’t usually block my swatches (I know, I know. Naughty, naughty).


    1. I think the issue can be that the garter edging might cause the stitches in the centre of the swatch to behave differently. Personally (as someone just learning, so I could be wrong!) I think if you make the swatch large enough, ensuring you’re not measuring right up the the stitches where they meet the border, there’s less risk of this. They look so pretty this way too! – Jane


      1. Hi Jane, you are correct that some counsel leaving off the garter. I let the purpose of the swatch and the intended project guide me. When I’m knitting a swatch to get to know the yarn or to compare to other yarns, I add garter. If the project has a very dense or open stitch pattern, like lace for example, I try to match the pattern’s edging on my swatch to see if I will like it. I rarely use the yarn recommended by the pattern, so I have to see for myself what the edges will look like.
        Your swatches are lovely as they are- I’m impressed by how neat and even your stitches are!


  20. Your work is great! I love the fact you are learning! And challenging yourself !Good luck with the hat project. And I laugh about the needles. I have so many, straight, circular and double pointed! And as luck would have it, never the one I need for the project I am starting😝. Make a list of needles you want and put it out for Christmas as gifts from the family! I did that almost 40 years ago and my dear brother bought a set for me. I still have them. Knit on!


  21. Soooo much fun! Really enjoying your journey Jane…I was raised in California and I call the stitch Seed stitch. What I call Moss stitch is a version of Seed stitch (per my darling grandmother who taught me to knit many many years ago)


  22. Jane, your posts are excellent, I love following your progress. I have been knitting a lot longer than you and still feel I have so much to learn. If anything invest in needles and remember your hat swatch in the round may change your gauge from knitting flat. I have more needles than a yarn store but always seem to need a different cable length. I prefer fixed circulars but have interchangeable sets too. I would happily share my needles with you until you learn. I don’t have all the larger gauge ones as I mainly knit with finer needles. I am knitting with finer needles atm and could post any larger gauge to the KDD address for you to learn with as I won’t need them for a while.

    I don’t regret investing in needles but had no idea how many I would accumulate over the years! Your swatches are so neat and the colour of your cowl with neat texture stitches is wonderful. I knit moss stitch panels in an aran sweater design and love how the wool held the texture. Well done
    I really would share my needles with you to help you along this knitting journey


    1. Beverley, what a very thoughtful offer. Thank you.
      I’ll let you in on a secret… I have invested in a set of needles! I very much appreciate your support – Jane


  23. Beautiful, Jane. I live in northern Michigan and also call it moss stitch. And I also love it! Along with the many other textures that you can create in knitting. It’s my favorite type of knitting. Simple knit/purl stitches used to make seemingly complicated fabrics. But they are really quite simple. I also like the feel and thickness the textures make. And there is an endless way in which they can be used. Whether it’s a shawl, a traditional gansey sweater, a hat, or a blanket, the finished project always fascinates people while providing beauty and warmth! Have fun!


  24. I’m Canadian and learned to knit from an Irish granny and the internet in the days of blog rings! 1×1 has always been seed stitch to me and 2×2 or bigger was moss stitch.
    There is a technique for checking gauge for a knitted-in-the-round project while knitting flat which wastes a bit of yarn but is truer to your final project – this link explains the rationale quite nicely, though I suspect you’ve already worked that out! https://www.purlsoho.com/create/swatching-for-circular-gauge/
    Happy hatting, they’re my FAVOURITE object to knit :)


  25. Hi Jane, I like your blog very much. So many years ago I taught myself to knit with a book. Your approach makes me remember my experience from that time…In German, its called Perl – Like pearl.


    1. I was just thinking what a great way to swatch and then you said it’s not considered so 😳. What’s wrong with it? And you could make blankets from the swatches eventually!!! Enjoying your posts and the comments. All the best to Kate xx


  26. As a long time knitter, I love to read your posts! Your knitting looks beautiful and it is great to learn from your methodical posts. Kind regards, Susan


  27. Your knitting is so lovely and even. By one of those weird coincidences I watched a podcast yesterday which mentioned different names for moss stitch. A French speaker called it ‘rice stitch’.


  28. Dear Jane,
    I really enjoy reading about your knitting exploration :-)
    Moss Stitch is known as “Perle strik” in Danish – meaning (directly translated) pearl knitting – which would be ‘Pearl Stitch’ in proper English, I guess.
    Looking forward to reading about your knitting in the round!
    – Marianne

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I love your scientific, methodical approach to learning, and it makes for interesting reading. If you ever decide your swatches are no longer required for your research purposes, you could stitch (or crochet) them together for a beautiful throw, or blanket.
    I love Moss Stitch, and until recently I thought there was only one kind. But I am knitting an aran sweater, and the inside of the diamond motif is Irish Moss stitch, in which you do two rows of knit and purl the same stitch, so you get a double stitch effect. Love your cowl, and what a beautiful colour, and I do love a tweedy fleck. You’re doing great, well done Jane x


  30. Your cowl is lovely. Well done you!

    Although I am American and live in the U.S.A. I refer to the stitch as moss stitch, possibly because I lived in the UK as a child and learned to knit using British patterns. As we become more and more of a global village, I see moss stitch used instead of seed stitch quite a bit in the U.S.


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