Complexities of gauge

o knitters,

i’ve finally decided to get brave and knit something that must actually fit, as a i lent a friend my allpurpose sweater and she done gone and lost it. thus, i decided to knit one.

anyways, i have a superbasiceasy sweater pattern and the yarn and have been dutifully making gauge swatches. the problem seem to be that i am a supersuper loose knitter. the pattern called for a size 8 needle and i’ve made swatches with sizes 8,7,5, and 4 and i still have too few stitches per inch.

what do i do now? do i keep using smaller and smaller needles and pray that i finally get my five stitches to an inch or do i have to change my tension? i’m a bit afraid of trying to knit tighter–what if i forget?

has anyone else ever not been able to achieve gauge? any advice or ideas would be welcome.

best friday afternoon knitting to all,


I’d probably use a heavier yarn with the same pattern.

I tried knitting a hat from a pattern and when I couldn’t get gauge, I gave up and picked different pattern where gauge wasn’t important. I think in my case it was the yarn and possibly the needles I was using. I used the same size yarn (worsted weight) the pattern called for, but a different brand than what the pattern called for. In my case, I knit tight and I still couldn’t get gauge when I went up to a larger needle size. I think the pattern called for a size 7 and I still couldn’t get gauge at 10 1/2. If I remember right, I had more stitches than what the gauge specified.

i’d like to have some advice on this too. annomalley- i knit rediculously loose. i did a pattern that called for 7’s on 5’s and it’s still going to be plenty big enough when it’s finished.

i think we have three options:

  1. swatch until you get the right gague, and then knit the pattern as directed.
  2. use a smaller size of the pattern you want to make
  3. or do the algebra involved in adjusting the pattern- calculate the number of stitches per inch on the swatch and then incorporate that into the pattern calculations somehow. i.e, if the pattern gague indicates 4 st per inch, and the swatch gague is 6 stitches per inch, then add two stitches for every four on the directions. or is it subtract two two stiches for every four on the pattern?

each one makes my head hurt. so i’m sort of wondering - how does one move away from being a loose knitter? are there exercises, or techniques i can try? some sort of different mechanic?

I thread my yarn through the fingers of my right hand and find that my tension is a little tighter when the yarn is closer to my knuckles, a little looser when it’s closer to the ends of the the fingers. Play around with how you hold the yarn; you may need to wrap it around your little finger or something.

You might try experimenting with a different style of knitting, too. I’m normally knit English style, but I can knit Continental as well, and when I do that, my knitting is [I]really[/I] loose.

And, while this might sound weird, try hand cream. If my hands are really dry, my knitting becomes very loose. A little hand cream seems to make my hands, um, stickier, and the yarn doesn’t flow through my fingers as fast. :shrug:

i’ve heard that continental is sometimes looser than english- i do knit continental, i wonder if i could learn to knit english, and if i would like it as much- what i like about continental is that it’s sort of like one motion. i learned to crochet first, and i like that very much- and to me, continenetal sort of mimics the crochet motion.

Dear fellow loose knitters,

I have always knit loose too and sometimes have to use several sizes smaller needles than called for. I have worried about that at times because if the pattern calls for a 0 to start with where do I go? :shrug: I know there are smaller needles, but I don’t have many. :lol:

If you are using the type of yarn the pattern calls for, I don’t mean the exact brand, but one that should be a pretty darn close match in gauge, I’d say just keep trying smaller needles until you hit pay dirt. The problems come in sometimes when you have to get row gauge too for some patterns. Many times row gauge doesn’t matter, but in some patterns it does.

If you can knit consistently you are doing better than me. :lol: I don’t recommend changing a natural even knitting to try to compensate for gauge. I do that sometimes, but I go all over the charts when I do. I just knit a little sweater on size 1 needles where the pattern called for 6s. But…I was not using the yarn called for. All went well (both stitch and row gauge were important and mine were very close). Then I decided to make the next size down in the same kind of yarn as the first one. I started merrily along with my size 1s and I am getting a totally different gauge. Way small. So I went to a three, still too small and now I’m trying a 4. :ick: Much frogging. Luckily I like to knit and am pretty patient. :lol:

I knit Continental too, and wouldn’t switch even if it improved my tension, and it might. But there are too many things I prefer about Continental to give it up. The major one that would keep me from switching is that English hurts my hands and I can’t knit long at all without needing to quit. :sad: I don’t care that much about losing speed, but the hurting is not worth it.

I can knit tight Continental if I think about it, but that hurts too, so I just try to compromise and knit loose enough to be comfortable. I guess I have trouble remembering exactly how I was knitting to get the gauge I got. :ick: So if you can knit the same way all the time, don’t try changing your even, natural tension. Needles you can change, even yarn, but don’t go there. :lol:

A loose woman

ok, that is good advice- i like to knit too, and i’m pretty patient- though i had to give up the booties project when the third one still was too big. i sewed a gift bag for the shower instead.

i’ll try to start winding the yarn twice around my pinkie, but sometimes i find that my pinkie is strangled. and moving forward i will try to match the yarn with exactly the same wight and ply called for in the pattern, i think that will help too.

thanks everyone!