What's up with needle gauges?

Hello, I am trying to knit my first project, it is a baby blanket. The pattern I am using has a couple of things that confuse me. First, and keep in mind that I am a total noob, If the pattern calls for # 15 needles what difference does it make if i use # 10 1/2. Also it said “Note: Yarn is held double throughout.” I have no idea what that means. I know I am probably asking dumb questions, but I just taught myself to knit using this site a couple days ago and have no one to ask. I am having my first child around March 5th and want this done for his birth, so I am eager to get started. Thanks so much, and God bless.

A size 15 needle is quite a bit bigger than a 10.5. What this means is that the 10.5 will produce a tighter and smaller fabric than a 15 would if you knit both using the same yarn.

The best way to find out if this is okay is to knit a sample swatch and see if it behaves like you want the blanket to behave, but if you’re using the yarn the pattern specifies, unless you knit REALLY LOOSELY it’s very unlikely that you will get a satisfactory result.

“Yarn is held double throughout” means you will knit with 2 strands at once instead of just one. Sometimes you can knit the same pattern with a single strand and a smaller needle, and just add more stitches/rows to make up for the fact that it will be smaller, but it will look different, and the best way to see if you will like it is by knitting a swatch.

The simplest way to solve this problem is to acquire or borrow some size 15 needles and follow the pattern exactly. But if this isn’t an option, I would try it with a single strand and the smaller needles and improvise to get the size how I wanted it.

so… would I use two balls of yarn to hold double throughout? Sorry for the stupid questions.

Sure, you can use 2 balls (I think that’s easiest), or you could use one strand from the inside and one from the outside of the same ball, but every time I’ve tried that, they get all tangled.

But either way, you just put the 2 strands together in your hand and pretend they are just one strand. You’ll notice that this will make your stitches look double, too, so you’ll have to make sure to pick up both strands of each stitch every time.

You could use size 10.5, with only one strand, though it will come out a lot smaller.

hey noob–your profile says you like to build things…

well… what you’d you think if i took a 15mm socket, and tried to remove a 10 mm nut? (and then complained that the socket didn’t work? ) D’oh, a no brainer right?

well knitting needles and gauge are things YOU KNOW just not in the right context.

thicker yarn needs fatter needles. (just as bigger bolts need bigger washerer and nuts)

a size 15 needle is 10mm, a size 10.5 needle is 6.5mm.

do you think a size 10mm needle can readily sub for a 6.5?
(could you swap out carriage bolts that different and expect something as strong?

as for yarn --fold it half to strands–(if using doubled yarn, 4 strands) these should fit through the hole of the needle gauge comforable.
Yarn comes in sizes… (super fine to super chunky…) and the thicker the yarn–generally speaking the larger the needle you’ll use.

there is more to gauge… but needle and gauges, and yarns are tools… (just as easy to understand (and just as archane) as any other set of tools!)

and just like you likely have a half dozen (or maybe as many as 40!) different screw drivers (small ones, large ones stubbies and extra long (for more torque) and some philips, and maybe even a set of star drivers, or a yankee driver, or ratchet screw driver, so it is with needles. you’ll need/want a full range knitting needles…

you’ll want wood ones, metal, plastic, straight, DPN’s, and circs… (it another whole set of tools to buy!)

Great answer, of Troy:) .

Chadago-- what exact yarn does the pattern recommend?

4 balls Plymouth Encore, or 800 yards worsted-weight yarn. I am using pound of love Lion brand yarn. It says “Super soft 4 ply knitting worsted weight 100% premium acrylic” I am using more yarn because I want the blanket to be large enough to swaddle with. I would like it to be 40 inches by 40 inches. This is what I am using it is pretty simple, which is good because I am a pretty simple guy. I am hoping to have it done by March 5th when my son is due.


Since the yarn is to be used doubled, then you need the size 15s and would increase the CO to about 125 sts for 40". If you want to use a single strand and the 10.5 size needles, you would need to CO about 200 sts or more to get it up to 40".

Wow, that is a lot of stitches. Well I really appreciate all of your help, thank you very much. I am going today to buy the #15 circular needles. I will probably pick up another ball of yarn as well so I can hold double without to much hassle. I am sure that I will have use for the extra yarn later anyway. BTW since you guys are being so helpful I was wondering if any of you know of a good place to buy yarn online. My town does not have a lot of choices, and I don’t know enough about yarn to know what is good quality or a good price. I think I will mainly be knitting for my son, so I need the yarn to be okay for babies skin.

It depends what kind of yarn you want… knitpicks has some nice wool, blends, lace, sock yarns at reasonable prices, so does elann.com. For acrylics in bulk there’s DiscountYarnSale.com Knitting-Warehouse.com and Yarn Supply.com

I don’t really have any help or advice for you, I just wanted to say that the ultra-sound picture of your baby son is just AWESOME!

I think the fact that you want to knit for your son is wonderful, you’re going to be an awesome dad.

One consideration when buying yarns, if no one else has mentioned it, is if the yarn is washable or not. There are a lot of them out there that are, the label gives you what you need to know. Nothing worse than knitting or crocheting a baby blanket, then having it shrink down to nothing. BTDT, have the doll blanket to show for it!

of troy, love your explanation of our ‘tools’. :slight_smile:

The reason I was asking about the yarn you were planning on using, is that if you get a chunky weight, it would equal about a double the thicknes of worsted and then you could knit with just one strand instead of 2. The basic, cheaper yarn companies, such as Red Heart, Coats & Clark, Carons, usually have a thick yarn made of acryllic (so, washable and easy on a baby’s skin). Keep us posted on the blanket-- and the baby!:slight_smile:

You must be doing a lot better at learning knitting than I am.

Personally I would crochet so the hook would grab the two strands or use a bulky with a single strand.
But that’s me who has trouble getting a needle to pull even one strand through.
Another bonus of the single strand is that all the bulky twist yarn I’ve used has been softer in both strand and finished product than the worsted I’ve used (granted, all the worsted has been Red Heart SS and all the bulky has been other brands).

I haven’t knitted anything but test swatches so far, but I have done a lot of double stranded crochet.
Pull from the center of 2 skanes at a time and you shouldn’t have a problem with tangling. If you’ll have to move the work put the skanes in a plastic shopping bag or a knitting bag if you have one.
If you use two non-center pull balls place each in their own bowl or they will quickly bounce, roll and twist themselves into knots.

My sister crochets baby blankets out of one of the Red Heart baby yarn line with no complaints. You can get them at Walmart.