Q about needle size...new Q added!

This seems like a dumb question…but here goes…

If I have a yarn whose product description recommends a needle size (say, DK weight yarn that recommends a size 5), what would happen if I knit it on size 8 needles?

assuming that you knit right on gauge, it would just be more open and lacy-ish looking…

As the old adage goes, size DOES matter. If you use larger needles than the size recommended (assuming you’d normally knit to gauge) you’d get a more open, loose knit because you’d have fewer stitches per inch. Patterns would require you to recalculate the number of stitches to cast on, and the amount of yarn needed to do a project might change, too.

That’s why gauge samples are so important. You use the size needle needed to get the number of stitches per inch that your pattern requires.

Hop this helps!

Yup, needle size is key… And the gage you create with a yarn/needle combo has lots of affect on the fabric you knit up. For instance, a smaller needle will create a tighter gage (more stitches per inch) and create a denser fabric. So, it will have less drape. Think of drape like the differance between silk and canvas; the silk that, say, night gowns are made of have have lots of drape, and canvas, that a sail is made from, has little drape and is stiffer.

So, a larger needle will create a more open fabric with more drape, and less stitches per inch.

This counts a lot when you are figureing how you want your fabric to work. If you made a pot holder, you would probably want to scale down the needle size you use and have it be smaller than the reccomended size, so you would have a smaller gage, and less drape. This would allow the fabric to be “stiffer” and thicker which would be very helpful in not burning your hand through the fabric. If you were making a light summer top that you would wear a camisol under, you might wanter a larger needle, to create a larger gage with more drape. This would create a lighter, less dense fabric that may allow more to be seen between the stitches (thus the camisol!).

I knit my socks on size 3 needles, instead of the reccomended size 9 needles, to create a much more dense, durable fabric with little drape so my socks have a tightly knit fabric that doesn’t slouch.

However, I knit my tester sweater (didn’t use a patern and just wanted to see what I could do intuiting my way through) that was worked in thick yarn in size 15 needles, instead of size 11, so the sweater would be less bulky and have more drape. You can see through the fabric when it’s stretched a bit though.

Make sense?

Thanks for all of your replies!

Here’s my specific quandry…I want to knit this fabulous hat! It calls for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino aran, and size 6 needles. I have this beautiful KnitPicks Andean Treasure, which is listed as sport weight and recommends size 3-5 needles. However, when I knit a gauge swatch on size 6 needles, it matches perfectly. So can I assume that the pattern will be fine using this yarn??


As long as your gage matches what the pattern needs, it should be fine. Different yarns will knit to different gages on the same needles, so all you need to do is check your final gage.

So if it reccomends “Bla bla fabu yarn” on size 3 needles for 78 stitches per inch, but you use “Yada yada fantastic yarn” on size 18 needles for 78 stitches per inch, you’re fine.

The only thing to remember is that really thin yarn knit on large needles can give you the same stitches per inch that a thick yarn on thin needles will give, but the DRAPE will be totally different. So, if you’ve knit up a gage swatch, found that you’ve got the right st/inch AND like the drape of the yarn, you’re set! Knit on! If you’ve found that the fabric of your gage swatch is too thick, or too thin, with too much or not enough drape, even though you’re gage is right, you may be in for a yarn substitution or some math.

Thanks yellowness! You’re so helpful! :notworthy: