Gauge is way off

Hi there! I’m pretty new to knitting and I’ve only made a couple of things. I decided to try to tackle a toddler sweater and went with Lion brand’s “top down girls cardi” (L60154), partially chosen because it’s a pattern specifically for the yarn I’m using and I wanted to reduce variables. I made multiple swatches, unraveling a few and starting over when I saw how uneven they were. But I finally ended up with a good swatch using the suggested size needles. The gauge should be 24 1/2 sts + 36 rows for 4 inches in stockinette. Using the size 5 needles they recommended I ended up with just 21 sts + 28 rows. So I jumped down to size 3 needles and I only have 22 1/2 + 29 rows. I know that I should go down in needle size to get the right gauge but I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something horribly wrong if my gauge is so off. Should I go ahead and buy smaller needles?

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A couple of photos in case that helps to determine what’s wrong.

I don’t think it can hurt to try the smaller needles. It’s a good thing to have several sizes anyway, even if they don’t work out for this project, you’re bound to find another project later on where you need them. The other factor to consider here is do you like the way the knitted fabric feels, with this or that yarn/needle combination? That question will apply to most things you make, especially clothing.
I really just wanted to say for a newbie your knitting looks just about perfect, so well done!


I’m trying out size 1 needles now but they’re a pain to work with! Even if this ends up working out I don’t think I’d want to do a whole project like this just yet. Time to find a new project I think. Thanks for the advice!


Is this your pattern?

ETA I realized I have some LB 24/7. I’m not at all sure I’d be willing to work tightly enough to make gauge for the pattern. Maybe it needs so many sts/in because cotton tends to stretch?

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Here are some patterns that are closer to the worsted weight which is listed for LB 24/7.


Don’t get too hung up on gauge. it meant something to someone once upon a time, but reeally is only a guide for you now. If you go down a needle size, th fabric may be too dense; too tight, and stiff. Is that what you want?

Most times, the yarns have changed a little over time, and is not the same as it once was. The patterns could be out-dated a bit. Take them with a grain of salt… or two. The pattern is only a guide!!

The main thing is that you did a swatch… Very good! Now, look at the fabric you have… do YOU like it. It matters little what anyone else things… it is YOU that counts. If you like it, then use those needles.

Now, to be fair, if you follow the pattern exactly (and it’s only a guide, remember), the size will not work out for you. You may need to work a smaller or larger size… to make it ffit. With babies, something a little bigger is fine, since they grow so fast. Smaller is not so good.

You may need to adjust the pattern a little (adding or removing stitches) to make it fit, but that is for another time. Right now, find the feel of fabric that YOU like, and go with it. And keep in mind, the gauge is only a gude – not to be followed exactly. Gauge relates to size… so a smaller gauge on your swatch means a larger baby sweater! That is okay too.

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I would go down to a 2-1/2 or a 2. Your gauge with a 3 is close. I’m a firm believer in getting the gauge right especially if you are a new knitter. Making changes to a pattern is not easy for a beginner. Get the right gauge and then trust your pattern. Good luck!

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