Tension/Gauge Squares

I’m about to start a cabled hot water bottle cover, and for the tension square it says to knit the square ‘over pattern’, does this mean the cabling pattern?

Also, any tips on finding patterns online for specific yarns I already have? I’m having a bit of trouble as I have a lot of yarn but only about 1 ball of each type and I’m finding it a bit tricky to find a pattern suited for my yarn with only one ball! Is there any site where I could enter in my type of yarn and how much I have and they would have a pattern for it?

Thanks! :smiley:

Yes it means the stitch pattern as cables pull in more and you won’t get the same number of sts per inch in stockinette as the cable.

For the grandmother of all sites, join Ravelry. On the advanced search for patterns you can enter the yardage and either the weight or needle size you want to use and generally there’s several patterns that come up. Not all the patterns are at the site, but some may be free on blogs and other sites, or in a book or magazine available through your library and it will show that.

Hmm okay thank you, I’m a little confused about to adapt the cabling pattern for a 10 x 10 square then in that case?

Ah okay! I’m on ravelry already! Joined only a couple of days ago so hadn’t found out how to do that, thank you!

You don’t need to knit a 10 x 10 cm square. You want to measure the number of sts you get over about 10cm and in your particular case, over several cables. Cast on enough sts so that you have at least 10cm and more is beter. That way you can measure over the middle of the swatch and avoid including the edge sts in your measurement. They are not as wide as other sts and would throw off your gauge if included.

You should really make the sample bigger than that, about 15cm. The reason is the edge sts curl under and shouldn’t be included in measuring. The aim is not to make a 10cm square, but to find out how many sts are in 10cm. So if your cable pattern is 24 sts, cast on about 30 and use 3 for edge sts on each end of the row. Work it for about 8-10cm then cast off and measure how many sts are across 10cm. It can also help to wash the sample the same way you will the finished item as different yarns will relax or shrink up when wet. You don’t have to cut your yarn if you wash by hand, but might if it’s acrylic and you use the washer and dryer.

Okay, thank you very much, I’ll have a go.

Also, with tension for knitting in the round, I’m a bit confused by how you test it? I’m trying to learn knitting in the round at the moment…


Okay, it’s suggested if you’re going to knit in the round to do the swatch that way too because often the purl row is looser or tighter than the knit row. You can ‘fake’ it by casting on your sts, work the first row, then slide the sts back to the beginning of the needle and work the next row. Leave the yarn very loose across the back and you definitely would want a larger one as the edge sts will curl even more with this method. But you can easily measure flat across 10 cm this way.

This video shows you just what Sue is describing.

Thank you, thats really helpful!

Having watched the video though, obviously it talks about starting a hat/sleeve/top down sweater in order to work out if you gauge is correct, how would you actually work this out? by measuring circumference as you go along knitting?

:slight_smile: thanks!

For a small item like a hat, socks or sleeve in the round, just cast on with the sts and needle suggested in the pattern and work about 3" or so, then flatten it out and measure across 2 or 3" in a couple different places. That takes about the same time as making a swatch and if you’re okay, you can keep going; if not, it’s not a lot to rip out. You just need to determine how many sts per inch you have, but just knitting a couple of inches wide isn’t enough to get an accurate measure, so a larger one is better. Many people do their swatch for a sweater by starting with the sleeve and measuring several inches in.

Right okay, how exactly would I ‘flatten it out’? do you mean just to measure it on the needles and make sure its flat? sorry i’m being really slow! but you wouldn’t be able to completely flatten it unless you took it off the needles? thanks!

also, once i’ve worked out how many stitches per inch how can i work out if this is right when in the pattern it has only the amount of stitches and rows intended for a swatch not the actually thing? basically how do i use the stitches per inch info? thanks!!

You can put the sts on some scrap yarn or thread, or make it long enough you can measure the lower edge. If you have longer needles you can pull a loop of the cord out opposite the tips to sort of flatten it.

Your sts per inch should match the gauge for sts over 4" given in the pattern - that’s the ‘swatch’. So if it says 24 sts in 4" that’s 6 sts per inch. If you have 22 sts, they’re too big and you need to use a larger needle. if you have 28 sts in 4" they’re too small and you need a larger needle. The rows or rounds aren’t quite as important to match as the sts, because the lengths are given as a measurment, so you just work however many you need for the inches given.

Most patterns give you the gauge that you need to make the item (so many sts per inch) and tell you which stitch to use to make your swatch (stockinette stitch or pattern stitch). Use whatever the pattern directs for the gauge swatch. If the pattern doesn’t say, use the pattern stitch. In your case, it would be the cables. Cast on enough sts to give you at least 4 inches or 10cm. This is an estimate but more is better.
Once you know the sts/inch that you get with your yarn and needles, you can adjust the needle size as Sue mentioned (in the example of 22sts/4inches you would go to a [I]smaller[/I] needle) until you get close to the required gauge. The pattern will give you the number of sts to cast on for the item and then follow their instructions.

Oh dear I find all this very confusing! Did you guys work it all out yourselves?! I still don’t understand about flattening out, I’m now talking about my knitting in the round, not the cabled hottie, so obviously the knitting is circular! …?

I’ve also come across another problem with my circular knitting, that when I do a row of purl then a row of knit in order to create stocking stitch it appears as garter stitch and when I do 2 rows of knit in order to create garter stitch it appears as stocking stitch! what is going on? also are ‘twin pins’ the same as circular needles? and is the length of the wire between the two needles as crucial to the tension/project as the width of the actual needle with circular knitting?

As I am trying to make a hat would you suggest just going for it rather than doing a tension swatch for a hat?

Sorry, so many questions!

I just meant ‘flatten’ it slightly so you can get a good measurement. Take the needles out if you want, but it’s harder to be accurate when it’s still on the circs and might be a little lumpy.

When you work in the round you don’t turn to knit on the other side, so to get garter stitch you have to alternate a purl round with a knit round. Stockinette stitch in the round is just knitting all the rounds because you always work on the RS.

Yes, ‘twin pins’ is what you call circular needles over there, and the length is measured tip to tip, not just the cord. You can work a hat on 40cm needles, but would still have to use dpns or longer ones (in magic loop) for the top part when you decrease stitches. You can use a longer one all the way through using magic loop or single loop, and needles from 60 to 90 cm long.

Finally - yeah, just cast on for the hat and work a few inches, then measure your gauge. It’ll be a lot easier to ‘flatten’ it out with a larger piece.

Okay thanks, I think i will leave it on the needles but just make sure its as flat as I can, I don’t feel confident to take it off the needles and put it back on again!

Thanks, I understand now about how to get stocking stitch!

What is ‘magic loop’ and ‘single loop’?


The ‘loops’ are ways to make a long circular shorter by pulling the cord out partway along the sts. ML is shown here, and this is single loop. That way you can knit a small number of stitches in the round without using dpns.

Hmmm but if I use the right length cord I wouldn’t have to do that?

That’s right. But say you use a 16" needle for a hat - after you do a couple decrease rounds at the top, your sts won’t fit around the needle any more. So you can add a second circular and knit with both, switch to dpns, or use a longer needle by itself and loop it. The page I linked to for magic loop also shows how to knit with 2 circs.