New here and new to knitting

Hi, I’m trying to make some baby leg warmers.

What happens if I use a different size needle than what’s called for?

It calls for 4mm but I have a circular Us 9 and regular US 10.

It starts with instructions to Gauge is 8 rows, 5 stitches per inch.
Does this mean knit 8 rows with each having 5 stitches?

Do I continue to follow knitting instructions right after the gauge part or take it out?

I think I need to take a class or something because I’m clueless.

Patrice in Central NJ

What you need to do is 1) calm down. Knitting is fun and relaxing.

Now take out your needles - whatever size you prefer - and cast on about 9 or 10 stitches. Now do the stockinette stitch - knit 1 row, then purl the next row, back and forth until you’ve done about 10 or 12 rows. One side will be smooth, the other side [purl] will be lumpy.

Now take a ruler. Smooth your sample out so it lies naturally. Put your ruler across the piece, parallel with your knitting needle. Count the number of stitches between the beginning and end point of one inch. That will give you the number of stitches across; your gauge calls for 5 stitches. How does your number of stitches compare with this? Adjust your needle size up or down.

Now put your ruler parallel with the edge of your sample, at a right angle to your knitting needle. Count the number of rows/stitches (same thing here) between the beginning and end point of one inch. That gives you the number of rows for one inch; your gauge calls for 8 rows per inch. How does your number of rows in your sample compare with this? NOTE: The number of rows per inch isn’t as vital as getting the number of stitches across per inch correct.

Hope this helps.

Some visual help here if you need it…

No, you don’t continue working the swatch. You’d normally launder it to determine if you need to adjust your gauge up or down for shrinkage, stretch, etc.


Welcome to knitting!

About the leg warmers. Needle size matters, but mostly because that needle size [U]may[/U] give you gauge. Gauge is the number of stitches per inch and sometimes number of rows per inch (not always critical) that the designer worked the item at. You need to get the same gauge they did, although you may need to use a different needle size (diameter) to get that number of stitches/rows per inch.

Many people need to use a different needle size than is called for to get the gauge given, but you need to get gauge so that the item will fit. Sometimes gauge can be off a bit and everything will be fine, like for scarves, etc. where “fit” doesn’t really apply. The needle size given works for a lot of people though and is a good place to begin doing gauge swatches. Everyone knits a little differently so needles needed can vary.

When it says Gauge is 8 rows, 5 stitches per inch, it means that you need to knit on needles that will give [U]you[/U] 5 stitches (the part parallel to the needle holding the stitches) per inch. It usually helps to do the gauge over the number of stitches that should give you 4 inches. Like when it says 5 stitches=1 inch, cast-on 5X4 or 20 stitches (those 20 stitches should end up 4 inches wide). Most gauges are given over 4 inches or 10 cm which is the same thing. You also need to knit to 8 rows (the stitches as they run perpendicular to the needle). Again, this is usually given over 4 inches so it would be 4X8=32 rows. But like I said row gauge may not be important, in many patterns you can just go by inches knit and don’t have to worry about row gauge, but sometimes it is important.

Where it gives the gauge part of the pattern, you can take that out after you get the gauge figured out. But…with some yarns it is important to wash the gauge swatch before you measure it because the yarn changes when washed, then you don’t use it over, I guess. I never use those kinds of yarn.

Gauge is very important in knitting. Do a search here and elsewhere about knitting gauge and how to measure it. Learning all you can will save you a lot of grief.

Thanks ladies! I think I’ll try the US 9 size needles. Does it matter that they’re circular? I just picked up the first size 9 needles I saw when I went to the store.

My neighborhood Michael’s has a sit n stitch class where you pay $5 and get help with whatever project you’re working on. I’m thinking about going.

Thanks for breaking it down for me- the whole gauge thing I mean. It makes a lot of sense,lol.

Wouldn’t using a different needle size change the other directions too? The directions look very easy though, otherwise. I got a free pattern online.


It doesn’t matter that the needles are circular.
You just turn the whole thing back and forth while you knit. Depending on how wide your knitting is, it might be easier on straight needles.

Good Luck!
I taught myself the basics of knitting out of a library book. What I would have given to have this site…

Thanks. Makes sense. As far as needles, (I’ll stop bugging you ladies soon) would you say I should have a variety or are there a few common sizes to start with and build from? And what brand (s) should I steer clear of?


Wouldn’t using a different needle size change the other directions too?
Using a different needle size doesn’t matter as long as you are able to use those needles to knit the gauge given. If you don’t get gauge, you are right, things begin to be effected, number of stitches needed change, placement of decreases/increases, etc. It can get hairy.:eyes:

As far as needles, (I’ll stop bugging you ladies soon) would you say I should have a variety or are there a few common sizes to start with and build from? And what brand (s) should I steer clear of?
You’re not bugging us. :slight_smile:
The needles you need will depend on the type of knitting you do and the weight of the yarn you like to use. I have scads of needles (I’m obsessed :lol:). I use needles in sizes 1-8 the most, but a lot of people use bigger needles a lot (I also knit loose, which means I commonly need smaller needles.) I got real bargains on a lot of the needles I have, picking them up at yard sales, second hand stores and places that were going out of business. :woot: I recommend looking at any second hand source as often as you get a chance. You find a lot of nice stuff this way. I have nylon needles, plastic, aluminum and “unidentified”. I only buy circular needles and short (10") straights, and any kind of double pointed I run across. :slight_smile: I hate the long straight needles, but some folks like those too. I like almost all the needles I have and they are various brands, many I don’t know what they are, they all have their uses. One never has too many needles. :lol: Others will have ideas of needles they don’t like.

Another thing to consider when choosing ndls is what kind of point you prefer and whether you push the ndl thru with your finger(s). If so, if you have very sharp points your fingertips will suffer. But certain yarns/patterns necessitate sharp points…like lace. Ndls with rounded points work fine with heavier yarns.

Best to try and test out certain types at your LYS and see how you like the feel and speed of certain materials. I like the finish on some of mine but NOT their points and vice versa. Ndls, unless procured at yard sales or thrift shops, etc can run the gamut on price. Your budget may dictate you steer towards certain brands. When new to knitting you’ll have to decide if you want to fork out for entire sets (such as Options) or piecemeal the ndls into your collection as you get them for their respective projects. If you make a lot of the same thing…ie lots of baby clothes, or lots of chunky afghans… you may find just a few suffice.


Hi Patrice! I saw that other people answered your questions about gauge, so I can add nothing to their great answers. Here’s my experience with needles: When I started, I had no idea what size to buy. The lady at my LYS recommended a set of 5.5mm (U.S. size 9) to me and I now know that this is pretty much in the middle. Later I bought some 4mm (U.S. size 6) and some 7mm (somewhere between a U.S. size 10.5 and 11) needles. The size 9s are still my favorites, but there’s tons more yarn available here for the 4mms.

Here’s what you could do. If you want to follow a pattern exactly, get the needles and yarn the pattern calls for. If you are choosing something based on the yarn, the yarn’s label will have a recommended needle size and you can get those. Gradually you’ll build up a collection.

About brands, I couldn’t help you there. I can only get Prym/Inox locally. I like them, but don’t know any different, either. The only problem with them is that my 4mms are metal, and they were hard to work with at first because they seemed so slippery, but now I don’t have any problem.

I sort of dislike my Prym circular needles. They seem very hard to work with, but I don’t know if it’s me or the needles. (Probably me!! :mrgreen: )

How many and what kind of needles you have depends entirely upon what kind of knitting you do. I have scads of regular straight needles in wide range of sizes and lengths but do almost all of my knitting with my set of Options.

The first set of needles I got were wooden 10mm ones because I found them in the market. I learned to knit on them, it made things easier while I was first learning because I used to knit quite loosely, the wooden needles meant that the stitches didn’t fall off…as much. Once I had managed a square on those needles I felt confident enough to try something else and rummaged through my mom’s knitting needles, I found some 5mm metal ones and tried them, my nan had bought me some novelty yarn to make a scarf. Since then I’ve been using metal ones almost exclusively because my knitting has tightened up somewhat since then so I like the way the stitches move on the needles more easily. Most of the yarn I own calls for size 4mm or 5mm needles so those are mostly what I use. Best to have a bit of variety tho, just in case you find some yarn that you just can’t live without which calls for a different needle size.
So my advice is to try anything you can get your hands on without spending a fortune and see what works for you. The large majority of my needles were my mom’s or my nan’s because they don’t knit anymore. Second hand is good!
I don’t know much about brands, I can only get pony without ordering online but I’ve heard good things about knit picks and addi turbos.
Hope that helps.

Hi Pat,
Isn’t it funny how a new baby can make a person want to learn to knit!?

Have you ever thought about going on Ebay to get some knitting needles? Thats how I got started. You can buy anything from a whole set, to just one pair. And from brand new to slightly used. I got a whole bunch of needles for under $5. Some were brand spankin new.

Just be careful who you buy from, make sure they have a good reputation or a good ‘feedback score’ (people leave a score after they buy stuff, stay away from a score lower than 98%). And read what people wrote about that seller.

Good luck and congratulations on your new nephew,:thumbsup: