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Topic: How would you best fix your gauge?  (Read 651 times)
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« on: April 26, 2014 04:52:02 AM »

Hello knitters!
I have a horrible problem - I, for whatever reason, neglected to do a gauge swatch for !three! separate cardigans (separate patterns and yarn weights) that I'm knitting, and I'm now halfway through all of them and I think they're all too small (using recommended needle and yarn size of course.) I've looked at my knitting, and it seems...my gauge is off. With all of them, I have more stitches and rows per square inch than I should. With one of the cardies it's only about three or four stitches and rows off, so I think if I switch needles to a slightly larger size, I might be able to salvage it. One of the other cardies might be Ok, it seems a bit small but I could maybe just make the button band wider(?) (the gauge given in the pattern is specified as "After blocking", which isn't very useful), but I'm most worried about the third cardigan, which is Knitty's Kittiwake. http://knitty.com/ISSUEw12/PATTkittiwake.php
Granted, I seem to be getting 20 stitches by four inches, instead of 16, which doesn't seem TOO horrible, but the pieces I've knitted so far really do seem very small. Has anyone knitted the pattern before? It specifies positive ease, and the half-finished sleeve, for instance, does seem to stretch around my wrist, but I have a sneaking feeling that blocking won't do much, and I really should just unravel the piece before I make an even bigger mess of it.

How does one change one's gauge? I didn't think I was a tight knitter, and indeed for several things I bothered to measure gauge for, I got exactly the right gauge, so this is a new one. Do I just go up a size of needles? If you want to, say, get 16 stitches per 4 inches rather than 20, would going up, to, say, a 5.5 mm needle (from a 5mm) work?

In case you're wondering, I'm an...ok knitter - I can do stranded colourwork and cables and lace and in the round just fine, but I've probably got nothing on most of the knitters on the board and lurking about on Ravelry. I really should post some of my knits to give you an idea.

Thanks so much for all your help!
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2014 07:58:04 AM »

It's okay to use a differnt needle than the designer used, they may be a looser or tighter knitter than you are - everyone knits with a different tension. As long as your sts aren't so tight they're difficult to move on the needle or work with, you're fine to go up in needle size. Best way to make a swatch is to CO about 6-8 more sts than given for the gauge and work about 8 more rows; you can also do a couple rows of garter stitch then use another needle on the same swatch. Count your sts across 4" and see how that compares. Then wash and dry it like you will the finished item and count the sts again to see if that changes anything. Acrylic yarns may not change though they can sometimes relax a little in the dryer. But that's what 'after blocking' means, just wash and dry is fine, you don't need to stretch and pin it out. It's very likely the gauge was measured on the finished item after blocking that's why you should see what the yarn does beforehand.

Now, why is it important? You're getting 5 sts per inch, instead of 4 - say the pattern is 30" around. At 4 sts per inch that's 120 sts, but the same sts at 5 spi would be 25" so that's quite a difference! On the one that might be only a little small, you can put the sts on scrap yarn to wash and dry it now to see if it relaxes. If it does, you're alright, if not, take it out and do over after determining if you need to use a needle one or two sizes larger.

Many people go up 2 or 3 needle sizes to match the gauge, so that's no reflection on your knitting skills. You might look at how you tension the yarn and form the sts though. If you wrap it around your fingers, you could drop one of the wraps; when you make the sts, make sure to push the end of the needle all the way through the st so you're not making the st on the very tip. That would be like using a needle 2 sizes too small, the new st needs to be on the straight part of the needle. Also, if you pull the yarn after you make the stitch to make it 'nice and even', don't - making the next one will tighten up the previous stitch, they get even when you wash the finished item.

« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2014 05:16:04 PM »

Thanks so much for the response. I think I'll try a swatch at a slightly larger needle size - an increase of .5 mm should hopefully do it. Not sure if I have the needles lying around though, I'd have to see.
I'm assuming knitting using a slightly larger needle would match the gauge/work better than simply knitting the cardigan in the next size up? That seems to be what posts about gauge have indicated.
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014 08:42:26 AM »

It's usually better to just switch the needle size. You can knit a size larger if your gauge divided into the stitches for that size will come out to the measurement you need. However, the fabric may be stiffer and denser than it should be for the item, so using another needle will retain the same feel the item was intended to have.

I would try both one size up and 2 sizes up on a sample. I've found the stitch gauge doesn't usually change noticeably with just 1 size change, but will for 2 sizes. You need a whole extra stitch per 4" so the larger size would likely be better, a 6mm should do it. Don't be worried about the needle size being so much larger, it's matching the gauge that counts.

« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2014 09:59:25 AM »

Everyone's knitting gauge is different, it depends on how you knit, how much stress there is in your life, what you're knitting and so on.  On the Knitty pattern I would say you might need to frog and reknit at a bigger gauge, while 20 sts over 4 inches compared to 16 sts over 4 inches doesn't seem like much, think of it this way.  If you were knitting say a 36 in bust sweater at 16sts to 4 in you would be casting on 144 sts, if your actual gauge was 20 sts over 4 in the actual finished measurement of your garment would be 28.8 in, I don't know that you can make that much up in finishing.  I know it's a hard lesson to learn, but well worth it!

I also wanted to add, that you can always change needle size to accommodate your gauge, when I started knitting I always had to go up at least one size from recommended, now I always have to go down at least one size.  Gauge changes with life.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2014 10:01:02 AM by GinghamPolkadots » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2014 04:37:03 PM »

I managed to get the right gauge by going up a needle size. Thanks everyone!
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2015 11:16:42 PM »

Hey it's me again, I knitted a nice cardy last year after I got everyone's great gauge advice (I really should make a post for it.)

I'm going to knit Kate Davies' Deco pattern http://katedaviesdesigns.com/2010/10/06/deco/ and this time I'm doing the proper thing and making a swatch, so I don't have the headache I had last time.
She recommends a heavy 4 ply, a sport weight, or a light DK. I'm doing the pattern in what I consider to be a light DK - not really that much heavier than sport. For gauge I'm supposed to have 26 stitches and 40 rows per 4 inches. I knitted a swatch in the pattern on 3mm needles as suggested.
However, I've got 33 st per 4 inches and 23 rows? Apparently row gauge is important for this - is my yarn too chunky? Going up a needle size will probably fix my stitches per 4 inches (last time I went up a whole needle size and got the right stitch gauge - I think I'll probably try knitting a swatch with 4mm needles to see how I go.) However, if I go up a needle size, I'm going to have even less rows per 4 inches won't I? Should I just not worry about the row gauge?

Also, I think the pattern looks a bit short. It's knitted bottom up, and you knit 2 inches before doing any shaping. Would it be easy enough to just knit 4 or 5 inches (instead of 2) before doing waist shaping, or is my totally whacky row gauge going to make the garment longer anyway?
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