Gauge question for cotton fleece yarn

hi - I have a question about creating the gauge as it called for in my pattern.
The pattern state that gauge is 20 sts = 4" in reverse stockinette using size 6 needles. The yarn is cotton fleece from Brown Sheep co. (it is a blend of 80% cotton and 20% Merino wool)
Anyway when i made a swatch using the size 6 needles I was short stitches 17 instead of 20. I switched to 5.5 and i was still short. i switch to size 5 circular needles and i was able to get 19 stitches on the circular needles. i used the circular needles as i do not have size 5 straight needles.

My question is can I go ahead with the size 5 ciruclar needles even though I am one stitch short? Or should I buy a set of size 4needles?

Any advice is much appreciated.

thank you-Page

It depends on what you are making how important exact gauge is. If it is a scarf or afghan or anything where fit isn’t that important you’ll be fine, although the item will be bigger than you intended and will use more yarn than you had planned, unless you stop sooner than the pattern says to.

But if you are making a sweater that you want to fit a certain way it is more critical. 20sts=4inches is 5 stitches make an inch. 19sts=4inches is 19 divided by 4 which is 4.75 so a quarter of an inch off. The bigger the item you are making the more off it will get. Like if you are making a sweater with a finished chest size of 40 inches. 4 goes into 40 10 times so you would have 10 times 1/4 inch which would be 2 1/2 inches bigger than you intended. Is that okay or not? Also remember it would take more yarn than it said.

What merigold said about being off one stitch. You write though, about using a size 6, then 5.5 and a 5… US sizes don’t have a 5.5 as far as I know, so where you using mm needles? Also, isn’t cotton fleece a worsted weight? That would make it thicker than the pattern in the yarn, I think. You may not be able to get gauge even if you use a 4, the yarn’s too thick. So if this is a sweater, you could just choose to knit this on a 6, but use a smaller pattern size, using the size whose stitches front and back would equal the measurement you need.