Help obtaining gage

I’ve only been knitting a couple of years and normally stick to doing scarfs because I have a difficult time obtaining the correct gage. If I make up a pattern on my own, I’m fine. i’ve done a few hats this way. But as soon as I try to follow a pattern, something goes wrong. I recently found a pattern for a cute toddler sweater using some yarn I’ve made a few hats out of before.®-Cincinnati-Toddler-Pullover/e09745,default,pd.html?start=22&cgid=projects-yarnandneedlecrafts-sweatersandtops
Problem is, I’ve used size 7 needles for a hat (with the same yarn) and my gage is 24 stitches = 4". I’ve also used size 10 needle and my gage was 20 stitches = 4". In this pattern they used size 8 needles gage 17 stitches = 4"
Am I really that tight of a knitter? I feel if I go to size 11 needle the stitches will be too large for the yarn and it will look too holey. Am I better off using a different yarn?

If you made the hat in the round, you might be tighter than if you go knit flat; sometimes people knit tighter than they purl and with knitting in the round you don’t do those purl rows. 17 sts/4" on an 8 with this yarn is a bit loose, but if you need to go up to a 10½ to get it, then do it. Did you wash the swatch or the hat? This yarn ‘blooms’ or fills in when washed. You could also make a smaller size of the pattern so it’ll measure the right size around. Knit the lengths to the measurement given for the correct size.

Are you wanting to make the sweater out of the Naturally Caron Country called for? If so it should work fine if you get gauge no matter what size needle it takes for you to accomplish it. The pattern calls for 17st in 4 inches and the yarn label says 16st=4inches. So you need to knit slightly tighter than that.

When I knit in the round I find I need one size larger needle than when I knit flat so it just depends on the knitter which way knitting in the round affects the gauge. But if you have the right weight yarn, needle size makes no difference—gauge is everything. That yarn should not be holey worked at 17 stitches in 4 inches.

If you are changing yarn you need to get gauge, and needle size doesn’t matter, but if the yarn is the wrong weight the fabric may not be what you want. Could be holey or stiff depending on the way it is off.