25 March, 2010

Gauge in Knitting - What Does a Changed Needle Size Do to Your Gauge?

There you are, knitting a gauge swatch just like everyone says you must, only you don't know what it's telling you. If the pattern wants a gauge of 5 stitches per inch, but your swatch has a gauge of 6 1/4 stitches per inch, do you know what to do? If you need fewer stitches per inch, what size needle should you try next?

Fewer stitches per inch requires a larger needle size.

So if you used a size 4 needle for your 6 1/4 stitch swatch and you want 5 stitches per inch, change up a couple needle sizes, to maybe a size 6. See what happens when you knit with that size. If your pattern wants a gauge of 7 stitches per inch and your swatch has 6 1/4 stitches per inch, what do you do? You need more stitches per inch, so what size needle should you try next?

More stitches per inch requires a smaller needle size.

If you want 7 stitches per inch instead of the 6 1/4 stitches your swatch has, try knitting with a needle a size or two smaller. See if that gets you gauge.

Two other factors besides needle size can influence your gauge.

Your state of mind while knitting is one factor. If you're tense, you'll knit more tightly than if you're relaxed--or under the influence of a glass of wine to get you through the gauge swatch trauma.

The other factor is the material your needles are made of. The way some yarns slide along metal needles may give you great gauge, but other yarns will be so slippery, your stitches may pop off the needle in a worrisome way. To compensate, you may knit more tightly, but that doesn't get rid of the problem and may cause hand cramps.

Switch from metal to wooden or plastic needles and see if the knitting goes easier and gets better gauge. Or if your yarn grabs your needles and won't slide for easy knitting, switch from wooden or plastic to metal.

Here's a fast, easy gauge swatch trick.

Knit and yarn designer Cheryl Oberle has a gauge swatch trick to tell you what size needle you need like magic. Cast on 30 stitches, knit up your swatch and measure across the entire swatch. If the size needle you used doesn't get gauge with your yarn, going up or down one size will make the swatch bigger or smaller by exactly one-half inch. It doesn't matter if you knit your swatch in stockinette, ribbing, cables, or lace.

So what, you say?

Well, since a change of one size in needles will change the swatch one-half inch, you may see at once that a needle three sizes larger would get gauge. Or two sizes smaller. Quick and easy, right?

Find whatever needle gets the gauge your pattern calls for.

If your gauge in knitting the swatch is off a smidgeon, and you call it good enough, be prepared for an unpleasant surprise when you try on your finished sweater. One stitch per inch off makes a radical difference. Even a half, third or quarter stitch per inch too much or too little will affect how the sweater fits.
Remember, you're knitting for fun, relaxation and productive results. For personal help with knitting math from a professional tailor who knits, visit my Knits Gone Bad blog at http://knitfitninja.com/blog/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Karen_Wehrle


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