I can’t tell you how many emails I get, shout outs on Facebook, and just general, hey Deb, I have a question, kind of thing.
Sometime you may feel gauge should be a 4-letter word, am I right?
As Knitty States, “From time to time, advice is offered to a knitter who wants to tweak the sizing of a pattern: “just knit it at a tighter/looser gauge to make it smaller/bigger.” While it’s true that altering the gauge of a knitted fabric will alter the size of the finished piece, it doesn’t always mean that you’ll get a finished garment that will fit — or feel — as expected. Some people get the relationship between “tighter” and “looser” and increased or decreased stitches per inch mixed up. Others assume that gauge is the answer to all yarn substitutions: if it matches, it must be all right. And a bigger gauge (fewer stitches per inch) doesn’t always mean easier to knit. Gauge might be a frustrating concept, but it’s also misunderstood.”
It’s super easy, once you have the basic skills to figure it out. I promise.
I hope this is helpful…
|Yarn A-Recommended yarn for pattern
Scenario: Your pattern calls for THIS worsted weight yarn, and a size 8 needle, and you want to use a different worsted weight yarn.
Yarn label (ballband) for your intended pattern states just that. Notice the knitting needles? Under that is the US 8 needle size. The BIG number “4” indicates the weight, which is a worsted weight.
Now, looking up at the picture, we will figure out the gauge…stitches per inch for your finished object using a different yarn. To the left of the needles in the picture, you see the 4 x 4? that tells us their swatch was 4 inches by 4 inches. The 17S tells us it’s 17 stitches per that 4 inch swatch.
Clear as mud so far? Good!
The way in which you calculate stitches/inch is by dividing the 4 into 17. 4 divided by 17 = 4.25 sts/inch. I personally would round to the nearest whole number. 4. Though, you could easily make the case to round to the 18, which would be 4.5. I would make this decision based on how tight/loose you knit. If you knit tighter, go up, if you knit looser/to gauge, go down.
Let that sink in a bit before you continue reading. *tick-tock tick-tock*
So, for this worsted weight yarn you will get 4.25 sts/inch on a size 8 needle. Again, I round to the nearest whole number, which in this case is 4 stitches/inch.
Now for the fun part…I’ll help you see a clear picture (my hope anyway) of what a substitution looks like.
Step 1: You will substitute with a worsted weight yarn for the best results. Now, that’s not saying you can’t use a different weight, but honestly, in MY opinion, I wouldn’t do it. You will have an entirely different finished object just by that, and besides, you would have to do a WHOLE LOTTA math to get the same gauge.
Step 2. Look at the yarn label (ballband) of YOUR chosen WORSTED weight yarn, Yarn B. This is where you will figure out how to match the gauge of the recommended yarn to the yarn you want to use.
This is your new yarn label.
|Yarn B-Your Yarn
Step 3. Notice the needle size is 7. The stitches/inch is 5. (remember, you divide the 4 inch into 20 this time.)
Step 4. You then look at the pattern recommended label and compare, Yarn A. You have 2 stitches/inch difference, right? (more to come on that) That can make or break your finished outcome of your project. Making it too small in this case.
*Go up a needle size when you want to make your garment bigger and get LESS stitches/inch, go down a needle size when you want to make it smaller and get MORE stitches/inch.*
You need to go from 5 stitches/inch to 4 stitches/inch. That 2 jumps down, right? 5 sts/in to 4.5 sts/in to 4 sts/in.
You still with me?
Step 5. In remembering your pattern wants 4 stitches/inch on an 8, to get the recommended size it states, you must go DOWN 2 needle sizes with the new yarn to get the same 4 stitches/inch. For new yarn: 20 sts on a 7 (5 sts/inch), 18 sts on a 6 (4.5 sts/inch), 16 sts on a 5 (4 sts/inch) Each jump is 2 sts.
*refer to blue asterisk again
Summary: So, in order for you to get gauge for your pattern by substituting your worsted weight yarn of choice (in this case), you will need to use a size 5 needle. That seems like a huge jump, but all worsted weight yarns aren’t the same. This yarn will appear a tighter gauge as it’s on a smaller needle, though your stitches per inch will be exactly the same, therefore have a garment/scarf/cowl/mitts/gloves, etc that fits as you had intended per the pattern details.
I have a passion for teaching others the basics of the nitty-gritty “stuff”. I’m always happy to answer questions. So, if you feel this was helpful, I’d love a comment below or a shout out on my Facebook fan page that I did a good job. That tells me, you understood and I can continue to give my reader/knitters what they need.
So, as I always say,