Reader Deinera asked:
I have a totally random question that I’m not sure you’ll have an answer to, but I figure why not ask the expert anyway.
So almost all of your patterns call for size 0 to get the 8 stitches per inch. What I’m curious about is I really like 1.5 and even 2 (sometimes, depending on the yarn) and I can often get 8.5 – 9 stitches per inch. Am I just knitting too tightly? Why this crazy discrepancy in gauge?
I’m asking mostly because some of the lacier socks I’m scared to try because I’m afraid they won’t turn out right if the gauge is wrong.
This is a great question. Gauge: one of the great mysteries of knitting.
Why the discrepancy in gauge? Because everyone is different.
I consistently get 8 sts/inch with a U.S. size 0 (2mm) needle. But that will not necessarily be true for you. You may get 8 sts/inch on a 1.5 or 2 or 3, depending on your knitting style and how tight a knitter you are.
The needle size stated in knitting patterns should always be considered a suggestion, a starting point, for you to figure out your own correct needle size to get gauge. In my sock patterns, the gauge is always measured over stockinette stitch, so if the yarn is new to you, knit a swatch of it in stockinette. If you know you usually need a needle larger than a 0, start with that larger needle. Once you figure out what size needle you need to get that gauge, you are good to go. If it is a sock yarn you’ve used before and you know what size needle you need to get gauge, just use that needle.
If you always use a size 1 needle to get 8 sts/inch, by all means, that’s the needle you will want to use for your sock.
I may be weird, but I consistently get 8 sts/inch in stockinette stitch with all fingering weight sock yarns, although they may vary somewhat in thickness and loft. I think this is because I subconsciously adjust my tension to suit the yarn I’m using. Well, I know I’m weird, because I always could get gauge with the suggested needle size on Alice Starmore patterns (as L-B reminded me last weekend) and I think I’m in the minority there.
Here’s my current sock-in-progress, which I have decided to call “Honeycomb” because I think it looks like . . . wait for it . . . a honeycomb.
Alrighty then. I’m off to St. Louis in the morning and will be back Sunday afternoon. Talk to you all then.
Lucy sez: “A weekend of alone-time with my daddy! Must start primping now!”