Changing yarn weight to fit gauge

I have several great patterns for sweaters that are meant for a heavier weight yarn, such as wool. Knitting to a gauge of about 18 sts/4". However, I want to use some of the beautiful pastel colored cotton yarns that are in a local yarn shop. But they are lighter weight - about 21 sts/4". I can’t find any heavier weight cotton yarn. Can I play around with using large needles to make it fit the gauge of the pattern - or is there some way to adjust the pattern to fit my yarn? Or am I just wishful thinking - and asking for trouble. Does anyone know where to get heavier weight cotton yarn?


You can change your gauge. If your stitch has a pattern you will need to adjust for where the pattern comes out but basically you need to multiply the numbers of stitches by 21/18 or multiply by 1.166 to get the number of stitches for each part. You will have to do some rounding. So if your pattern says cast on 100 stitches, you would cast on 116 or 117 stitches. Make a swatch first and use your gauge for 4 inches and divide by 18 to get your exact conversion.

You can knit with different size needles or follow a different size of the pattern, too.

Very helpful - I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you!

Whichever you try be sure to swatch. It may take several tries with different size needles or pattern sizes to get the measurements you need to fit.

To use a different pattern size you do have to know how many sts/inch your yarn and needles produce, and how many inches around you want it. Multiple those 2 numbers for total number of sts and compare them to the stitch numbers for the front and back of a sweater. Go with whichever size is closest.

I found this calculator on line but haven’t tried it yet.

This calculator looks very helpful. Thanks everyone.