I’m lazy.  And impatient.  And I always think I’m right.  So slowing down to do things like knit a gauge swatch, or say, try on a turtleneck when knitting it from the top down, just seems so pesky to me, and I’d really rather not do it.  I can’t be bothered, frankly, with such minutia.  I’ve got a very important knitting project to completer; several, actually.

Well.  In spite of my reluctance, the annoying reality is:

  1. I’m spending a LOT of time (especially if you count the average rip and re-do cycles I go through) knitting something that presumably I…
  2. …spent some money on for raw materials (sometimes a little, sometimes enough to just tuck that little receipt away someplace I won’t see it again, like, ever).
  3. And – even if it doesn’t seem probable – I have been wrong before.  Yes, truly – and I’ve had sweaters that were destined for fabulousness just not end up fitting well at all, darn it.

So, just as I opened up my mind to swatching for gauge (only after having to rip out my completely off-gauge front of a sweater and start over), I’m open to other ultimately time- and money-saving ideas.  See?  I’m growing here.

One of the things I’ve learned is the art of trying on my project along the way, tearing myself away from that lightning speed knit-pace (the one I only wish I had).  Unfortunately it took a while for me to figure this out, so I discovered an alternate oopsy-daisy method to try to fix some things when you don’t try on.  Assuming you do not wish to follow in my lazy, impatient footsteps, read on. 

We’re not talking rocket science, here – but in my moseying around the knit-ernet, I had missed seeing any clear suggestion on how to best accomplish this. Could be I wasn’t actually looking – but that’s not important right now. Due to stubborn refusal to try a fairly obvious solution, I ended up taking a good while to acknowledge that transferring the stitches entirely to a length of scrap yarn is a great way to try on your project without inadvertently losing stitches off the end of your needles. I’ve seen scrap yarn suggested as an alternative to stitch holders while working on different sections of a sweater, but I entirely avoided that suggestion – why would I want to thread silly scrap yarn through when I can slide in a stitch holder much faster and easier?

Well, using the scrap yarn does actually provide a nice opportunity to try on the garment, which, let’s face it, should probably be a priority (if it’s anything other than a scarf or a sock that you’re making). The thing about yarn is that it’s just more able to take on the circumference of the garment than either a circular needle (which I’ve foolishly tried to pull over my head – even at 29″, that’s clearly not going to work) or stitch holders – or both used in combination (also tried that – not good). Using yarn means the circumference of the neck/bust/waist won’t be constrained by the needle or holders; even if you manage to get a circular needle over your head, any constraint from the natural measurement of the relaxed, knitted fiber kind of defeats the point of trying it on.  Sadly, I simply refused to believe this until I gave it a shot with 2 or 3 sequential stitch holders, the poor little guys trying to hold bustline stitches together while I wrangled with the whole thing.  Of course I found my attempt very messy and unhelpful indeed.

In practice, this transferring process from needle to scrap yarn and back to needle doesn’t take very long to do. Get yourself a tiny crochet hook, feed the hook under a few stitches at a time and pull a fingering-weight-ish yarn through all of the loops on the needle.  Then you can slide the needle out and try on till your heart’s content – if you’ve got ribbing, you can even give it a little stretch a make sure it springs back to the circumference you’re looking for.  Everyone can benefit from a reality check before making a mistake on length due to eyeballing it, or doing the old hold-it-up-to-yourself-in-the-mirror routine.

When you’re done, slide your needle back through the stitch loops and pull the scrap yarn out.  Wasn’t so hard, was it?

This trying-on tip is especially important when knitting in the round.  In this case, ideally, you’ll be making any adjustments needed to custom-fit your body shape along the way (see examples of this technique in Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits).

Note to self – take the time to try on at different stages of the project. It’s pretty much as important as knitting a swatch for gauge at the beginning, at least if you want whatever you’re making to fit you properly.  Duh.  Own hand duly smacked.

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2 Responses to “How to try it on mid-project”


  1. […] to fix a too-long giraffe neck, but it all worked out, and the upside is that now I’ve got a new technique in my bag to share.  Needless to say I could’ve prevented the neck problem if I’d tried on the turtleneck […]


  2. […] patience goes a long way.  Most of you already probably had this figured out.  I wrote about it here if you’re curious about my try-on ways and […]

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