Why Gauge Matters and Needle Size Doesn’t
For your continuing education in becoming a master at understanding knitting patterns, let's clear up any confusion about the "needle size" section of your pattern.
In order for your garment to come out the right size, your knitting must match the designer's knitting.
To this end, he or she will specify how many stitches to the inch you will need to achieve in a certain pattern, most often Stockinette Stitch (abbreviated St st).
This measurement is called the gauge, and it is very important for every garment whose size and fit is important.
Scarves, dishcloths, and teddy bears do not need to conform to any exact gauge.
The designer will also suggest a certain needle size that you might use to achieve this gauge, often giving the US needle size (a whole number from 000 to 35, with the most common falling between 1 and 17) as well as a metric size (like 4.5 mm).
Do not confuse these sizes: a 7mm needle is not a SIZE 7 needle - it is a US size 10 and it will be too big for your project.
Why You Should Ignore The Recommended Needle Size In Your Pattern
In knitting as in so many other pursuits, results matter.
Whether you use the suggested needle size or not, if your gauge is off, your garment won't fit.
The reason for this is because different people knit differently given the same needles.
If we both used size 7 needles and made a swatch (a small square of knitting designed to be used to measure our gauge), odds are that I would knit looser than you, that is, my gauge would be bigger.
In order to make our gauges match (so that your sock comes out the same size as mine did when I designed the pattern you're going to use), you would adjust your needle size until you got the correct gauge.
Video: How to Check Your Gauge in Knitting
Watch the video below to learn how to make a swatch and to measure your gauge, in which I tell you a scary fact that will make you always want to check your gauge.
Oh, and one more thing: if you are more than halfway through your project and discover your gauge is a little too small, it's okay.
Knitting will stretch, and I show you how to take advantage of this in my video on blocking your work.
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- Recommended Notions: Knit Chek Gauge-Checker by Susan Bates