help with changing needle size

I just cant work this one out when knitting a cardigan.
You get a ball of wool telling you the recommended needle size. You do a swatch to find that your tension is too loose and change to smaller needles. But the knitting is too dense because you’re not using the recommended needle size. What to do? Knit a smaller size perhaps? But all patterns say to change needle size. But the density is affected, which they seem to ignore? Am I the only one with this problem?

1 Like

Remember that the needle size and even the gauge on the ball band are recommendations. Since we all knit with slightly different tension those needle sizes can be changed. Even the gauge is often given as a range of sts/inch.
Most often the density of the knit fabric isn’t a choice between too lacy and too dense but a matter of degrees between. Yes, too small a needle should tighten up the knit fabric but usually not so drastically within a single needle size change.
It’s also possible to change the composition of the needle from metal to bamboo to plastic in order to fine tune gauge.

What pattern are you looking at and what yarn or yarns would you like to use?


When you do your swatches do you tend to measure them right away or wash or block them first before measuring?
I am not very experienced but I notice a significant difference in the feel and drape of some knit fabrics with steaming or washing and recently had a quite firm ribbed fabric which totally softened when I steamed it.

1 Like

Thank you, a lot of useful info there!
When I change down just one size of needle, then it only gives me 1 or 2 extra stitches to the 4inch measurement. I find I have to change down a few or more sizes to get the correct number of stitches! I think I must be going wrong somewhere though as surely this can’t be right?
At the moment I want to knit pattern 715, sorry thats all I have to go on, don’t think its by a well known pattern. It gives instructions for a cardigan to be knitted in 4ply. DK, Aran or Chunky. I have Eylul classic DK but it looks more like Aran weight to me.
I started on the sleeve first, as you recommended and could see that the cuff was far too big straight away. So I am either going to knit the smaller size or use the instructions for Aran yarn.

Good point…thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

Could there be a confusion between US and UK needle sizes?? Could this be why you have to go down so many sizes to get gauge?

I use the UK needle size recommended. But you have given me a second thought…that maybe the pattern itself is for US size needles?

I’m a loose knitter too and it’s not unusual for me to have to drop down 2 needle sizes to get gauge. As long as you like the feel of the knit fabric, the needle doesn’t usually matter. (Of course the amount of yarn needed may become a concern.)
What is the gauge given on the ball band for the Eylul yarn? That may give a better idea of the yarn weight than the needle size. There is another way to estimate the yarn weight from the wraps per inch. That may confirm for you whether this yarn is a true DK or Aran.

Is there a designer or a company name listed on the pattern? That might help us track it down.

Creations idea of the possible confusion of UK and US needle sizes is a good one. You can check to see if the pattern is more specific on the needles recommended.

I know you said there wasn’t a name on the pattern but do you gave a link or photo of it? There’s a chance, with an image, that someone might find or recognise the pattern and then see I there is any info from other knitters about needle size or gauge issues.
Possibly a long shot but you never know.

Photo on 06-07-2022 at 11.58

Heres a photo of the pattern, doesn’t give much away I’m afraid.

@salmanac:- That’s very useful the link on gauge size, thank you. I can’t see a gauge given on the yarn, only the needle size of 3-4…is that what you mean?

I have just done the cuff for the chunky in size large size, but using the needles for Aran. They seem the correct measurement at the moment.

You are helping me so much already :smiley:
Photo on 06-07-2022 at 12.09

That looks lovely, bright and cheery. It’s not so easy to judge but the yarn looks more like aran than DK to me too. You’ll need to knit a couple of inches in stockinette (knit one row, purl one row) to be sure of the gauge. Hard to tell in rib.
Does the ribbing feel right, not too tight?

Yes, I was hoping there was a gauge range on the yarn maybe 16-18sts/4" (aran) rather than 21-24 (DK).
Maybe yours is a thicker version of this yarn? This one recommends a 3.5-4mm needle (US#4-6 or UK 10-8).

An aran yarn is typically knit on 4.5-5mm needles (US#7-9 or UK 6-7). Of course these are general recommendations and your requirement or preference may be different.

It’s a Patons pattern
Not sure of the number, I know it says 715 on the print of this but I am not finding results (yet) on that number.

I have found this which may help, the page with tension gauge and suggested needle sizes


Here’s a link to a seller of this vintage pattern. Either this seller or another may be able to answer questions on pattern number.

I see the needle sizes are given in mm and in US sizes, US numbers are different to UK numbers - no idea if this has effected your gauge as I don’t know enough about it.

Amazing yarn, so bright! My son would adore that!

(Sorry the images are huge, I never know how to make them smaller)


Found it!
Doesn’t offer any additional help I don’t think but pattern is Patons 4612 classic cardigan.

1 Like

Yes, that’s the same as mine. The ribbing feels okay, not too tight. Will see how I go with stockinette stitch :slightly_smiling_face:

Wow! That’s the pattern alright! Images are okay, not too big :slight_smile:

I’ve never knitted anything so colourful, but just fancied going a bit crazy! That’s why I wanted to make sure it didn’t end up too big and in the charity shop :laughing:


Good idea. What size needles are you using for the rib and what size will you be using for the main body of the cardigan?

Great sleuthing out the pattern, Creations.


I’m using needle size 3.75 for rib and 4.50 for main body. These were the recommended sizes for the Aran. UK sizes. I agree with you and really do think this yarn is more Aran weight than DK maybe because it’s from Turkey? I haven’t checked out the gauge site that you sent a link for, but will do sometime.
By talking with fellow knitters has given me a valuable lesson…knitting is not rocket science and needle sizes etc are just general recommendations. AND you CAN knit the sleeves first :smile: great tip that!

EDIT: Just checked the gauge site and did the WPI…confirms it is Aran :slight_smile:


Sometimes yarn or patterns throw you a curve ball but you’ve overcome it.
Enjoy working this lovely sweater. It’ll be fun with the yarn you’ve chosen.

1 Like

And thank you and Creations for all your help. Will post a picture when it is done, but may not be for awhile…probably around Christmas! :sweat_smile:

1 Like