Tension squares

OK, so, I’m embarking on the first project that needs a tension square… Scary stuff or what…

(Baby jacket…)

Whilst I understand the need for these squares, what do you do if the tension is slightly off from the required tension?

I’ve not got “that” many needles of diffeent sizes… and don’t really want to head out and buy more… (trying to be good!), so can you alter the tension if you need to?

Thank you in advance…


I find a knitter needs a lot of needles. :lol: You can alter your tension a bit to compensate, but it can be a frustrating thing to do. It is much easier to try to develop a nice even knitting style than to be changing your hand and needle tension all the time. Some people may be gifted at it, but I find it hard to remember how it felt the last time I was knitting if I stop in the middle of a project (and who doesn’t stop until a project is finished?). Sometimes I have had to make a little swatch the next day until I could replicate the tension I needed before proceeding. Oh, and I have had to do a lot of ripping out. :frog:

So, it is possible up to a point, but you may be happier with a bigger selection of needles. Good luck.

Thank you Merigold… I guess I might have to face another trip to my LYS!

Now won’t that be a hardship!


Yeah, what a pity. :slight_smile: Don’t we just hate shopping for knitting stuff? LOL But sometimes it is hard on the pocketbook. I have gotten a lot of nice needles by keeping my eyes open at second stores and yard/estate sales. Do you have those options there in the UK? You may not find the needle you need but you will need the needle you find someday. :slight_smile:

Another option is to knit a larger or smaller size of the pattern once you know how many sts/in you get with the needle you have and how many inches you need for the finished item.

Thanks Merigold and Suzeeq.

We do have charity shops/second hand shops here, and it is possible to pick things up - however have not been doing too badly on Ebay for bits and pieces. It’s also getting closer again to “Car Boot” season (aka warmer weather) so I’ll be keeping my eyes open there also!

My LYS is not that expensive really. I’ve just had a weekend where I’d decided I’d be good and not buy anything else for knitting until I’d got these couple of items made that I’d bought things for!!!

So, I got the square done…

It came out at 28 stitches across, with 35 rows high (over 4 inches).

The pattern however, calls for 22 stitches across, and 30 rows high.

One thing I was thinking though, would I get the same tension if I used aluminium/metal needles. I did use brand new bamboo ones, and I have noticed that the more you use these, the “slippier” they get…

So, if i have more stitches to 4inches than required, that means my tension is a bit on the tight side, and that the garment will actually come out a little smaller than expected? Does that make sense?

Yes, it’ll be smaller.

If you were to cast on 56 stitches for the back of the sweater, it would be 8 inches across at 28 stitches per 4 inches.

If you were to cast on 56 stitches for the back at 22 stitches per 4 inches, it would be be 10 inches across.

If you want to use your yarn and gauge, then Suzeeq’s suggestion about making a different size to fit the measurements you come up with works well.

If you make the next larger size, it uses more stitches and you would come closer to the correct size you need.

Don’t worry about size too much: it’s a baby, if you make something too big or small it will fit into the jacket at some point!

Stitch and Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller has lots of details about calculating how to change the guage for a project. if only all maths was taught like that.

Thanks everyone… you’re right “IT’s a BABY!!!” Redwitch…

I guess I’m just wanting it to be right because it’s for my sisters baby and I’ve never made anything other than throws, a hat and scarves before this!

I’m just going to grab the needles and plump for one of the slightly bigger sizes and GO for it!

Thanks again!

Do remember though that it’s imortant to have a nice fabric. If you are getting that tension with the recommended wool or an equivalent, it may be that the fabrci you get on that needle size is a bit stiff/scratchy/hot/not soft enough. If you like the fabric, go for it! And tell the sister you made a bigger size because you knew she would be given lots of newborn-sized stuff which would only fir for a few weeks and then be grown out of and no gift baby clothes left that would fit.

This is my sister’s second baby, the first is getting on for three (in april) going on oh, lets say 15…!!!

But you are right, I remember when the first tadpolet was born, she went from things kinda hanging off her initially, to things not fitting within about 2 weeks!!

The wool is knitting up really nicely - well, it’s actually acryllic - better to wash than a wool one… I guess babies aren’t very good at not being sick on something because it needs a delicate wash!

Right, enough procrastination, lets get on with that pattern!