Need help with pattern, gauge, and a stitch, please

Dear knitting gurus,

I am about to start my first clothing project beyond hats and scarves (I’ve also done a large sampler afghan with a variety of textures, lace patterns, and a few cables). The new project is a cardigan vest with cables in the front and a slightly decorative background (the pattern calls for Rice Stitch for the sides and back). This will also be my first attempt at buttonholes. Yikes!

I am having a problem with gauge, though. I am using a worsted weight yarn (Plymouth Encore), and got help from the yarn store staff in making sure I had the right yarn and the right amount.

The problem is that I am a loose knitter. The pattern calls for Size 6 for most of the vest, and Size 5 for the edgings. On the Size 5 needles the gauge is supposed to be 16 sts = 3 inches in Rice Stitch.

Well, I tried this on Size 3 needles (knowing that I usually have to use needles 2 sizes smaller to get the gauge), and still get too large a gauge: 15 sts = 3 inches the first time I knit a swatch, but I doubted it because my casting on was too tight.

So I knit a larger swatch with Size 5 needles (hoping they would be my “larger” needles) and got this gauge: 12 sts = 3 inches. Rats!

QUESTION NO. 1: Due to problems with trigger finger, I don’t want to use an even smaller needle size. So how can I change the pattern to make the garment fit my gauge?

Is there a more compact background pattern I can use besides a simple stockinette or reversed stockinette? Would this help the gauge problem?

For the 46 inch chest (my goal) the pattern says:

CO 241 on the smaller needles.
Knit 8 rows.
Next row (WS): Work [K2, K in front and back of next st] 8 times, PM, Knit 193, PM, Work [K2, K in front and back of next st] 8 times.
Then I am supposed to have 257 stitches, and switch to larger needles and work the body up to the armholes (etc.)

QUESTION NO. 2: Could someone please explain [K in front and back to next st] to me? How did the number of stitches increase?


Happy knitting, everyone,


Knit in the front and back of a stitch is an increase–essentially knitting twice into one stitch.

Knit into the stitch as normal, but don’t slide it off. Then knit into the back loop of that same stitch, then slide it off. You’ll have two stitches instead of one.

You mention the gauge on the larger needles, but didn’t say what it was supposed to be. If you can get that one correct, that’s most important. The smaller needles aren’t used as much as the larger one.

If I couldn’t get gauge, I think that I’d be more likely to knit a smaller size vest with a bigger gauge rather than try to alter the stitches, mainly because I don’t know how much smaller a different stitch would make it. :thinking:

Wow–that was helpful, Ingrid! As usual.

The pattern only gives the gauge for the larger needles. I suppose the designer figured out what the relationship should be based on the gauge with smaller needles.

The next size smaller has a chest size of 41 1/2 inches (compared with 46 inches). I’ll give it a try and hope for the best.


Once you get a couple of inches done, make sure you ‘try it on’ to make sure it will be big enough.