Knitting Help – Converting a Flat Pattern to Circular


In this video, I’m going to talk a little
about converting a pattern that is written to be knit flat to a pattern that is knit
in the round, on circular needles. And I’ve avoided making this video because
I’ve always been concerned that making this video was going to create more questions than
it was going to answer. But I’ve thought about this and I’ve taken
it to a really high level. I’ve made…put together four points that
are the basics in how you can rework a pattern, a flat pattern that is seamed, to be something
that is knit in the round. And I can’t answer all of your modification
questions, but hopefully this will get you on the right track for doing that yourself. And I also have a pointer for that as well,
if you get stuck. Okay, when I’m talking about converting a
flat pattern to circular, I’m talking about, like, for instance, a hat. A hat is normally a tube, right? A hat that is written to be knit flat, with
right and wrong side rows, and then seamed up one side. Or a pullover cardigan, that is essentially
a tube for the whole body, but it’s knit in pieces instead and then seamed. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. There are other examples. You can actually have mittens that are written
flat with a seam that you can change. There are all…pretty much anything can be
written flat if it’s a…can be written flat if it’s normally knit in a tube, or if it’s…can
be converted to knit in a tube. I think that makes sense, yes. But knitting in the round is easier, it’s
faster for a lot of people. You don’t have wrong side rows. For…you know, a lot of Americans hate purling,
and so we always want the right side row showing all the time. Okay, my four points. If you wanna see a rundown of these points,
you can…I’ve listed them out in the video description field, just below the video on
YouTube. Or you can click the little “I” to go to my
website and I’ll have them listed out there. Number one, the first thing is, is this a
good idea? Is it a good idea to switch your pattern from
being knit flat with seams to in the round? And you wanna think about this because sometimes
the seams in a pattern are there for structure, especially if you have something like a cotton
sweater. Cotton yarn can be kind of heavy, and if you
are eliminating the seams from a cotton sweater that’s knit with kind of heavy cotton yarn,
you could just be making just this hanging, heavy mess of cotton that really has no shape
to it, where the seams were actually giving it structure. So ask yourself that first. Something knit in a wool yarn, which has…is
a much lighter weight yarn, meaning actually pound for pound it’s a lighter weight yarn,
chances are you’re gonna be okay. But do think about that, think about the structure
of the sweater if that’s going to make a difference. A hat, it probably…you can probably convert
it without any difficulties. A hat can never really get heavy enough for
that to be a problem. Number two, when you’re talking about the
seams on a hat, you have one seam in a hat most likely, you wanna subtract two stitches
for every seam that you’re eliminating. And if you’re working with a pattern that
was done by a good designer, a designer who thought about the seams that were going into
their piece, they’re going to add two stitches to the pattern that are going to be eaten
up in the seam. They’re just…that’s just part of it, they
expect you to use the mattress stitch to seam it, and two of those stitches are just going
to be gone. So they’ll add two stitches. So when you’re converting that to being knit
in the round, you wanna take those two stitches out for every seam. So for a hat, for example, with one seam,
eliminate the first and the last stitch, the first stitch of the row and the last stitch
of the row, if there’s a stitch pattern that you’re working with, and when you seam it…or
when you don’t seam it up, when you just knit it in the round, it should look…have the
same stitch pattern as if it was knit flat and seamed. And if you’re talking about a sweater that
has a seam, the body of a sweater has a seam on either side, you want to eliminate two
stitches on one side, two stitches on the other, for a total of four stitches. And, you know, four stitches, we’re talking
about a sweater, you know, like a woman’s sweater, a woman’s sweater that’s knit in
kind of a fine gauge yarn, four stitches is not going to make a big difference. But it is going to make a big difference in…if
you were knitting something with a…maybe a super bulky yarn, where each stitch is nearly
an inch wide. You wanna take those stitches out, it could
make a big difference in the size. Mostly it’s going to make a difference in
any stitch pattern, even if you’re just talking about the bottom ribbing. So eliminate four stitches for…or two stitches
for every seam that you’re eliminating when you change something to being knit in the
round. The third one, okay, yes, the third one is
actually really important, because when you’re knitting a flat piece, you’re knitting right
side, wrong side, right side, wrong side. And when you are knitting something in the
round, it’s just right side, right side, right side, right side. There are no wrong sides, the wrong side of
the work never faces you. So when you switch something to being…from
being flat to in the round, you need to eliminate the wrong side rows, and that means changing
all of the wrong side rows to be right side rows. And if we are just talking about stockinette,
you know, stockinette, when it’s knit flat is knit a row, purl a row, knit a row, purl
a row. You just want to eliminate the purls. It’s all knit, knit, knit, knit, knit. Every round is knit. So that will give you stockinette in the round. That’s how that’s done. It does get more complicated when you’re talking
about other stitches. The basic thing you…the most basic instructions
I can give you are, every wrong side row, change all knits to purls and all purls to
knits, and that will give you the pattern that you want on the right side of the work
for knitting in the round. On the wrong side rows, change all knits to
purls and purls to knits. That works for almost everything. That works for almost every pattern you’re
going to come up against. The only time it doesn’t is if you have stitches
that use psso…this is the only example that I could think of. The only time it doesn’t is if you have a
psso, pass slipped stitch over, and that’s going to give you a real heavy lean that you
can’t replicate on the right side of the work. But there are hardly any patterns that do
pssos on the wrong side of the work anyway. I was really stretching for that. It’s really…it’s pretty easy to convert
it that way. Okay, the last one, number four is if…these
are the basics, the basics. But any pattern that you’re converting, are
going to have…there’s going to be something about that patterns that might be unique,
and if you’re having a difficult time thinking through it, I recommend visiting your local
yarn store, scheduling a private lesson with the knitting teacher there, and don’t just
hand her the pattern and say, “Fix this for me so I can knit it in the round.” Have her walk you through what she’s doing,
and you’ll learn from that, and next time you’ll have an easier time converting the
pattern on your own. If she can convert the pattern for you, she
can explain what she’s doing to convert the pattern. I’m sure she’d be happy to share. It’s money well spent visiting your local
yarn shop for a private knitting lesson if you’re stuck on something like this. So I can’t help you modify your specific pattern. I can give you these basics and I can send
you to your LYS for some help. Anyway, those are the basics. Again, if you wanna see the four points that
I’ve gone over here in this video, you can visit my website and it’s all listed out there. I hope it helps. Good luck.

29 thoughts on “Knitting Help – Converting a Flat Pattern to Circular

  • This is nice, thank you! I've found a newborn hat pattern I wanted to make but wanted it without a seam, I think this will work perfectly. πŸ’œ

  • Excellent video as always! You were right, I do hate purling! πŸ˜‚ I wish I could get over that hatred but it's difficult!

  • Omg I wish I had this last week. I was trying to Convert a circular to flat. Thanks so much for doing this.

  • Thanks for the tips, especially the eliminate two stitches for every seam. Last year I converted a baby hat and didn't do that. Frankly on that pattern I'm glad I didn't but now I'll have to think about sizing beforehand.

  • Very very interesting! I had never thought about this! This was a very instructive video. Thank you very much. Like always, I love your videos! πŸ˜€

  • I just converted a fingerless glove pattern from flat to circular last week. I think I incorporated all your points, so I feel better about the conversion! Plus they came out great!

  • Thanks for this video, when you think about this conversion it's obvious you're going to have those extra stitches, (for the seams) never would
    have thought of this, very useful information, must remember this, thank you so much

  • For me getting gauge is the most difficult part when converting a pattern. Knitting in the round typically tightens up my stockinette st so much that rather than eliminating stitches I end up having to add several more. Especially if going a couple of needle sizes up won't help.

  • One note: when knitting flat, you will alternate going left-to-right and right-to-left, which you don't do when knitting in the round. So it is not enough simply to change knits to purls and purls to knits- you must also do them in reverse order.

  • Have you designed many patterns using different textured and sized yarn, if not would love to see that! Great video!

  • Excellent points.

    As a beginner, more than 35 years ago, I converted flat patterns to circular with no trouble. I don't remember why, now, but I'm sure there was a good reason, even if just to see if I could do it. It's nowhere near as difficult as it sounds..

  • So glad to see this video. I have been knitting my sweaters in the round from a flat pattern for years because I hate dislike up seams so much. I especially like the tip about deducting stitches wear the seam would be, I learned that late and it makes a significant difference in fit

  • I like how you specify that Americans hate purling. This wouldn't surprise me at all. We're all a bit…well American I suppose!

  • I do like knitting in the round. So much faster. Being a continental knitter, I really don't mind pearling.

  • I'd just like to add a point on pattern. If you're converting flat to round, you'll need to bear the jog between rows in mind as round patterns are essentially spirals. A flat pattern in eg fair isle would need a good solution, such as slipping stitches to come out as good as flat pattern with a mattress stitch πŸ™‚

  • I'm planning on knitting my first sweater, even though I've been knitting since 2006 when I was 7. I've been through tons of patterns and finally found one I love at a local yarn store. It's an old pattern from England (I'm in South Africa) and the entire pattern is knitted flat. I love knitting in the round. But after watching this, I've decided to just knit it as the pattern dictates. Once I've knitted it, I may change the pattern to in the round.

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