Help altering pattern

Hello all,

I’m an intermediate knittter who just moved into an area with no knitting shop and no known knitting community. Help! I’m trying some simple patterns, but still have really basic questions. Here’s my latest question:

I am trying a simple poncho–basically a very wide scarf/shawl knitted in a rib that you sew together at one end (in Reader’s Digest Two Stich Knits). It calls for Rowan Kid Classic (mohair mix?) and size 8 needles. I couldn’t find anything like that in Hattiesburg, MS (go figger!), so I picked up a Patons Shetland chunky Tweeds that calls for size 10 needles. I thought I would slightly adjust the pattern (decrease cast on), but that didn’t do it. It seems like it’s going to be way too large.

[U][B]Is there a general rule of thumb for making these adjustments[/B][/U]? Is it OK to get a different kind of yarn than what the pattern calls for? When you do that, do you go with the original pattern needle size or use the needle suggested for the yarn?

Thanks so much for your help!


You can certainly use different yarns but what you are best to do is to create a ‘swatch’ or example square so that you can see what gauge you are creating with your different yarn and needles.

So, if size 8’s create say 5 stitches per inch and you use 10’s this might only create 3 stitches per inch (the stitches may be way bigger if the yarn is really chunky).

So, let’s say the original pattern creates 5 stitches per inch and the needles and yarn you have create 3 per inch. You can see that across that inch you would need 2 less stitches. This is what you need to consider in adjusting the pattern. You will need less stitches with bigger needles and chunkier yarn.

Does that make sense?

Thanks, Susan. That makes sense. I have to admit that I’ve never been good about checking my gauge before I begin a project. Under “Tension”, this pattern says “20 sts and 25 rows to 4 in./10 cm square over rib.” So does that mean that I need to knit 20 stitches for 25 rows, measure, and start adjusting based on that?


No, a better way is figure out how many inches the width is (it must say in the pattern or you can figure it out from the number of CO sts divided by 5sts/inch), then knit with your yarn and needles to determine how many sts/inch you get. Once you figure out your sts/inch, then multiply by the inches of the width and that’s you CO numbe.

Ah hah! It’s starting to make more sense to me. I have to say that I never knew how mathematical knitting is before I started running into these questions. Thank goodness I have a math-minded husband and daughter around to help out.

Thanks for this last suggestion. I’ll see if that makes a difference.

Hand held caculcators should be in every knitter’s tool bag. :wink: