Are my needles too big?

I’m a beginner trying to knit a scarf to match by beanie (it’s getting blustery up here). I just learned how to do the long-tail cast-on and the knit stitch, and I’m having a load of trouble getting past the first row.

Here’s what I’ve got:
[li]Size 15 needles (14" long)
[/li][li]Medium (size 4) yarn

I would have gotten heavier yarn, had Wal Mart stocked it in the colors I needed. Granted, their yarn selection is somewhat limited compared to a craft store. But my biggest problem is that as I try and knit the first row after casting on, the gap between my needles grows with each stitch and the stitches get tighter and tighter.

My question: are my needles too big for my yarn (or is my yarn too small for my needles), or is it my technique just needing refinement?

Basically, if you use a thin yarn with a large needle, the result will be a loose or ‘holey’ looking item. If you use smaller needles, you’ll have a tighter looking item.

With something like a scarf, unless you’re using outrageously large needles, there shouldn’t really be a problem. It’s more of a problem if you’re making something that will need a gauge.

Are you using circulars? or regular needles? If you’re using regular needles, then just don’t pull the free end (attached to ball of wool) so tight when you are knitting, and push the stitches up so there isn’t that big gap between the two needles which is stretching the rest of the work tight.


Since it’s happening on the first row, it’s your cast on. Don’t use the backward loop, try one of the others; the loop CO leaves a lot of extra yarn between each stitch, especially using large needles. Otherwise, the needle size is okay, will make a loose sort of lacey scarf.

Size 15 needles are 10mm thick. That’s a pretty big needle for worsted weight yarn. Are you using a pattern? If so, then it’s intended because it will give you a lacey look. But that’s harder to control than smaller needles for that yarn, especially if you’re just beginning. There are other ways to knit a scarf which would be easier: You said you’re doing a long-tail cast-on. That’s good. Try using size US 8 or US 9, which are 5mm and 5.5mm respectively, half of what you are trying to knit with now. You said you are knitting the scarf to match a beanie. Do you mean match as in color? If so, and you have the yarn that you want, then just cast on 20 - 30 sts and just knit every row until you have it as long as you want. That is called garter stitch. This is what that will look like:

The stitches separating as you knit is a common problem when first learning-- just keep practicing and it will straighten out. Try casting on 10 sts with the smaller needles and you yarn and knitting every row and just get the feel of it before trying the entire scarf.

I’ve fixed the problem for the most part. I was pulling everything incredibly tight, so I tried loosening my stitches a bit and it’s looking better now, though not entirely consistent. That probably comes with more practice, no? Also, I’ve found my piece spiraling around the right hand needle as I work.

I’m heading out today, so I’ll probably go back to Wal Mart and get some smaller needles and heavier yarn just for variety’s sake. :smiley: I’m not using a pattern, really; all I was planning on doing was a 24-wide garter stitch the whole way, making a couple of solid color scarves before attempting to make the two-color one to match Mr. Beanie. I might finish this one with the large needles and see how it looks. XD

Basically, the pattern I came up with for adding the second color into the mix was 12 navy blue rows, 2 white rows, 10 n.b. rows, 4 white rows, 8 n.b., etc., doing blue and white rows so that each “section” adds up to 14 rows. Then it’ll look like my, at least pattern wise. It’ll total 84 rows, so I’m probably going to knit something with 84 rows just to see how long it is before finalizing an idea for something that may be too short.

Great advice, but I’ve already gotten away from the backward loop cast on, which I can’t knit with to save my life. I much prefer the longtail because it’s faster and a heck of a lot more fun to do :wink:

I’ll have to post pictures once my first scarf is done.

Okay, glad to see you’ve experimented with other cast ons. Backward loop is okay when you want to add just a couple sts, but not so great to start a project. I prefer LT too.

If you do like how the sts are turning out with the larger needles, stitck with 'em. You’ll get done faster, and in garter stitch will really give a nice lacey look to the scarves. I feel the normal gauge suggested to knit worsted weight is way too dense and makes things stiff and sometimes rough no matter what yarn you use. Even RH SS is softer when knit on larger needles. But if you do get some smaller ones, size 10 isn’t bad.

I went out and bought myself some fatter yarn, in addition to some red size 4 yarn and some US 10 and 8 needles. I’m really liking how my first scarf is turning out, and I’ll probably wind up giving it to a friend of mine who it would look really good on. I’m already at 2 feet long or so. A few more hours should finish it.

By the way, what length would you recommend for a scarf?

Scarves are really a personal thing, you can make them as long or as short as you wish!

for me, I’d imagine hip or thigh length as a standard length for a scarf.

The wider it is, the longer it should be (IMO) in order to balance out the width.

At the moment I’m doing a fairly wide, heavy scarf, and it would look ridiculous anything less than knee length, although it will be a very , ‘specific’ look when it’s done, it just depends what you want and what you like.

If it’s a dress scarf or a spring/autumn scarf then it can be shorter, because they probably wont be wrapped around, but simply hung around the neck. For a winter scarf, they’ll want to wrap it maybe a few times and you have to allow for that :slight_smile:

phew, who knew my thoughts on scarf lengths was so complex!

Most people make scarves about the height of the intended wearer, or between 5-6 feet long. Some men don’t generally care for really long ones, a 4 ft length might be good for them.