My current work in progress:

1. Woodfords, designed by Elizabeth Doherty, knit from Madelinetosh Merino Light in the "paper" colorway on U.S. size 3, 5, and 7 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Gauge

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.

sip042209 240x160 Gauge

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!”

lucy042209 240x177 Gauge

Comments

  1. Have a wonderful tme! Love the Dalla horse bag. And the sock.

  2. One of the problems that I ran into recently is that my particular pattern didn’t have that much lateral stretch to it so when I figured my gauge at 8 sts/inch and then the appropriate number of inches for my foot, I ended up with it being too tight. sigh. Just one more variable to add to the equation, eh?

    Patti/Wombat of DOOMs last blog post..Now here is a dedicated crocheter…

  3. I seem to get a consistant 8 st to the inch with size 2 needles. The one time I tried knitting on size 1′s, the sock was way too small.

    PlainJanes last blog post..Yup, I’m Still Alive..

  4. I am bad at swatching, I must start learning my gauge and needle size though. Especially when I get to the KAL’s for your new book

    Aunt Kathys last blog post..Tuesday- Trial and Error

  5. Have a great time! Wish I could be there @ Spring Fling! Love the new sock – it’s sooooo bee-ut-ful…. get it? Bee- honeycomb…. Right. I’ll shut up now.

    Lucy… you beautiful kitty… no need to primp! You’re always gorgeous! luv.m.

  6. Love the sock which I suspect I’ll be seeing in person tomorrow. When I first started knitting socks, I knitted 8 sts/inch with size 1.5 (2.5mm). Now I’ve dropped down to size 1 or size 0 and get gauge with both. While doing a test knit, I realized that I prefer the fabric from size 0s but still use size 1′s most of the time–mainly because I have Addis in size 1 which are my preferred needle brand. Tell Lucy to have fun with her daddy.

    Timmie Bs last blog post..Looks like it worked…

  7. anne marie in philly says:

    steven and meredith say: “meeeeow, and daddy will spoil his little princess, and let her do whatever she wants! lucky girl…enjoy it, lucy!”
    ;-)

  8. Love the sock. Have a great time at the fling.

  9. I swear this was just for me because I asked this question on Ravelry today. Thank you and I’m just going to do what i have to do and not worry but enjoy that they fit.

  10. Love the new sock, wish I were going to The Loopy Ewe with you this weekend. Maybe next year??? Have a great time.

  11. It’s all about the Gauge Fairies, dontcha know? Leave them offerings of angora fluff and merino so they’ll bless you with good gauge.

    Hissy Stitchs last blog post..And I thought I had problems…

  12. When I knit Donegal, I got gauge with Starmore’s suggested needle size – I was so worried that I’d have a hard time, since I’d heard so many horror stories, but I was spot on. To tell the truth, I felt way too proud for such a meaningless accomplishment. :)

    Imbriums last blog post..Thirty-ness

  13. I seem to remember EZ saying once that if you were working on dpns and you couldn’t find the last one you needed, just grab one in a close size. Your fingers will automatically adjust your gauge to match the rest of your work. Or something like that. Anyway, it reduces the stress for me. :)

    Janice in GAs last blog post..Well, I’m back…

  14. Awww, Lucy you look so cute!
    Great advice on gauge! I seem to get 11sts per inch on size 0 needles. (though I must admit I’m stubborn and want to continue to use the size 0′s)
    I love the colorway of your new sock!

    PMOYSs last blog post..New Responsibility

  15. So what I am trying to figure out is how I get gauge almost always with the recommended size needle on any pattern? It must be something subconscious or I am not accurately counting the stitches per inch. ;)

    LittleWits last blog post..Earth Day

  16. Don’t think I can help with gauge but I know I want that honeycomb pattern! I love it and it lookes lovely in that yarn.

  17. Theresa in Italy says:

    I love that honeycomb sock! And I just wanted to say that my copy of your book arrived yesterday and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. You did an outstanding job. Have a lovely time at the Fling!

  18. Enjoy your weekend! But really.. Ragdolls NEVER stop primping. do they? hehehe.

    mias last blog post..Diner Duel

  19. Have a wonderful time!! Socks look great!

    Is it strange that I’ve knit hundreds of socks and have no idea what my gauge is?? :)

    Danieles last blog post..Spinning Weekend, and … my Hero.

  20. Enjoy the Spring Fling Wendy – - wish I were going! Primp away. my darling Lucy, primp away. Love that little pink tongue!

  21. Linda in Dallas says:

    I thought I was the only knitter that had to drop to a size 0 needle to get the right gauge on sock yarn. Last time I knitted a sock (2 yrs ago) I used size 2 dpns; now I use size 0 dpns…go figure.

    Also here is some press from the Dallas area LYS (The Woolie Ewe, Plano) for your new book!

    “Wow, what a week it has been. Our favorite UPS man, Scott, has delivered us many goodies too wonderful to pass up. What did he bring us? New BOOKS on our bookshelf:*Toe Up Socks by Wendy Johnson What a fabulous second book by Wendy. She has authored great instructions for knitting toe up socks including twenty-five patterns you just have to make. There is even a knit-a-long planned beginning in June. Find more info on this knit-a-long on Ravelry.*

  22. I have found that if I make a sock with size 0 needles, then it comes out the right size for my foot (I love a lot of negative ease, so I’ve never had it be too tight). If I make it with a 1, then I almost always have to give them away. They slouch too much. Just the little differences that help make us all unique, right?

    Seanna Leas last blog post..30 minutes a day

  23. First off, enjoy Spring Fling. I am also one of those “weird” ones that get guage on with the suggested needle size. Hope the karma police don’t see this and mess me up in the future.

  24. Do you have any thoughts about differences in a gauge swatch knit in the round and one knit flat? Which way do you recommend for your sock patterns?

    LisaDPs last blog post..Happy Easter

  25. Have any errata been identified for your new book yet? I don’t have any but was just wondering if anything has been mentioned. Thanks

  26. Holy cow, Batman. I must have the tightest gauge ever cuz the smallest needle I have ever used is a 2 and I couldn’t get the sock on my foot. I routinely use size 3′s and the socks work out well as long as I do about 60 stitches around, maybe 64. Any more, and they bag. I must be a freak.

  27. NewJerseyLaura says:

    Love the gauge discussion. It is a mystery why some people get 8 st in on 0 and some on 1 or 1.5. Also love Claudia socks. Don’t you just love that soft wool…

  28. Noticed this today, thought you might like it…
    http://www.sheepinthecity.prettyposies.com/

  29. Honeycomb is lovely. Interesting gauge discussion too.

    Ruths last blog post..He tried the sweater on