Number of Stitches VS Length of Needle

Hi Everybody!

I have just started teaching myself to knit - got a great book by Boye, which has taught me a lot, and have managed to make three (slightly wobbly!) dischclothes. I am now working on a very simple afghan pattern by Red Heart. The first thing that I am supposed to do is cast on 178 stitches. According to the directions, 16 stitches should equal 4 inches (if I am reading/understanding correctly). 178 stitches divided by 16 stitches equals approximately 11; times four inches equals approximately 44 inches…my needle is only about 9 inches…what am I missing???


Does it say what kind of needles it recommends in the pattern? Afghans in one piece are often done on circular needles. Those are the needles with the long cable attaching them. It makes it a lot easier and more comfortable to knit because the bulk of the afghan rests on the cable in your lap.

Thank you for your quick reply! It is Pattern number J27.0004-6K from Red Heart Super Saver; for the needles it just says: 6mm (US10). I’ve never used the circular needles - is it that much easier to do larger projects such as an afghan that I should learn to use them before I start a project like this?

Circular needles hold about 3 times their length in stitches so they’re good for large projects, a 32" or 36" will be just fine for this project. The cords holding the sts means you don’t have to balance straight needles at the same time so they’re good for smaller projects too. I haven’t used straight ones in years - except for one time I was trying out a st pattern and they were the only ones that were empty; I could hardly knit with them, they were so awkward.

OK - so off I go to buy some circular needles - but I still wonder why the pattern would call for so many stitches on a needle! Thank you! Angie

With that many stitches you can knit the whole afghan without sewing it together. A straight needle can only hold about twice it’s length, so for short ones that’s about 20", 30" for a long one, but they’ll be jammed on there.

Well, they just tell you the stitches you need and you choose the needles. Make sure you get one with a long enough cable because you could still end up with problems. For a full size afghan you’d probably need a 40 inch one.

I did a 45" wide throw on 40" ones and wished they were 36"; just too much cord.

It will be more comfortable to knit a large project on circs, too (well once you go circ, you never go back anyway…)

My straight needles are 10". I can cast on about 100-120 stitches on that length. I like casting on to straights, then switching to circulars. My cast on is more even on straights. Gotta say for knitting, I love circulars. They take the strain off my wrists. And support the weight of an afghan much better. Most of my knitting is done on circulars, regardless of the pattern.

That’s what I am thinking! I will try to get some fast. I never knew circular needles were so much better! :yay:

Rosegirl147 :knitting:
“All’s fair in love and war.” from John Lyly’s (can’t spell it at the moment!)

Circular needles are preferred by most long time knitters, and now that you have the hang of knitting back and forth on straight needles, you’re surely ready to move on to better needles (IMHO).

Buy a cheap set up at your LYS and get used to them. I’ve got tons of circulars, with different sizes of needles and cables between them for different projects. I am now just going to buy myself a set of Knit Pick Options with the interchangeable needles and cables. It will clear our one drawer of my yarn stash… room for more yarn!