Mar 9, 2014

Needle Material Affects Gauge

Recently, I got a new carbon fiber interchangeable needle set (Karbonz from Knitter's Pride). As you can imagine, I already have an extensive needle collection, so you might ask why I need a yet another set. The short answer? Gauge.

Each of my needle sets are made from a different material, which can affect both stitch and row gauge. I was curious how I would knit with my new needle set, so I designed an experiment.

I began with a ball of 100% wool yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted) and 4 sets of size 7 needles, all made from different materials:

1. Plastic Resin: Denise Interchangeable Needle Set
2. Wooden: Knit Picks Harmony Needle Set
3. Metal: Addi Turbos
4. Carbon Fiber: my new Karbonz Interchangeable Needles

I knitted up a stockinette swatch (30 sts x 45 rows) with each needle type, then blocked them all very, very carefully to be sure they weren't stretched.


After the swatches dried and kind of mellowed out for a while, I took careful gauge measurements. Then I used the results to figure the dimensions for an average sized sweater that is 200 sts wide and 150 rows tall.

I was shocked!

The results really surprised me: if I knitted a sweater with one kind of needle versus another, I would have about a 2" variation in either width or length. That's a big difference!


I was also curious about differences in my "flat vs. circular" gauge because I've had trouble with sleeves not matching the sweater they are attached to. So I got to work on a circular swatch with my wooden dpns.

Results? There is a difference, of course. If I knitted my 200 st x 150 row sweater with a circular construction, it would come out 1.5" narrower than if I knitted it flat with the same wooden needles. Surprisingly, the row gauge was unaffected.

So what's the take-away from all this?
While your results would certainly vary from mine, I think it's important to be aware of how your tools can affect your finished objects and to use this knowledge to your advantage:
1. Knit your gauge swatch with the same needles you plan to knit the garment with.
2. Knit circular swatches for circular garments.
3. The more stitches in a row, the more a difference in gauge affects the finished measurements of the garment.
4. If you need to connect a circular-knitted sleeve to a flat-knitted body, make a separate circular gauge swatch. If you knit like I do, you might need to go up a needle size or switch to a needle made from a different material to get the correct gauge.
5. And for goodness sake, make large gauge swatches! (6"+ is a good rule of thumb)

I hope you found this post informative! I know I will probably reference it often in the future. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

AND, If you haven't seen Homage: Knit Darling Book 2 book yet, go check it out! The collection features 5 gorgeous new knitting patterns inspired by Modernist art and design, each piece honoring a different pioneering female artist from history. I could not be prouder of the collection!


  • 730332252a14935d0f2567602d5ef424.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies14

    almost 9 years ago

    Thank you for doing this experiment! I noticed a dramatic difference as well in my own knitting gauge when I changed needle materials. I would not have thought that the material your needles are made from could make such a difference...but it does. Even the type of wood used (bamboo vs. birch) can make a difference for me!

  • E2b8a2b332c1ff2800534dd0bbd24dc2.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies13

    almost 9 years ago

    I have known that wood affects my gauge differently than metal, but it's good to see it in a graphic. Will be on guard the next time I think to use different materials in the knitting of my sweaters. Thanks for doing the leg work, or should I say hand work!

  • 09be68c647a138ae1ff38c9f34d41a9a.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies2

    almost 9 years ago

    You are Awesome!! Such useful information. I will definitely keep this in mind. you rock!! Who knew?

  • A016baeb7dd0e0726ab3ff414eb6d7e6.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    almost 9 years ago

    Thanks for this wonderfully informational article. I already know I'm a tight knitter and it would seem that my preference for metal (Signatures) adds to that. I took acrylic (Knit Pro) needles with me on vacation recently because I didn't want to risk an over-zealous TSA agent snatching my Signatures, and I kept thinking to myself, "wow, my fabric is really loose!" Now I know why. :)

  • 027a69ea1377d20d1c180ee10f651bd8.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies3

    almost 9 years ago

    Since i knit my socks with magic loop doing two at at time each on its own needle, i will be certain to use either my Karbonz pair or my Harmony pair. Thank you for this information

  • C208748dfea66a1b16d6e83257c9fa19.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies17

    almost 9 years ago

    Wonderful post. I very often have to adjust recommended needle size but I never took into conisderation the type of needles I was using. I will be making more swatches from now on!

  • C93a3c85fa7e1265e026353712f9b12e.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies16

    almost 9 years ago

    I will repeat your experiment with my needles. I know my woodens give different gauge than my metals. I also get different gauge with my square needles.

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    almost 9 years ago

    Robin, I haven't had the opportunity to try square needles. I'm curious what your results will be!

  • 9210d8293c5388e6e33558c3096601ea.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies0

    Darlene Krystal
    almost 9 years ago

    I found this very questions are...."How much did the tension you had in your hands play into this experiment.....and how large in inches were the swatches??....Thank you for posting this information.....

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    almost 9 years ago

    Darlene- The swatches were all about 6" x 6", give or take a little of course. The needles all measured perfectly at 4.5mm, so really this experiment is all about hand tension. The different needle materials caused me to make my stitches a little differently in each case.

  • 4093e782f5365e6c5087803f2dd4c7f7.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies19

    Anna D
    almost 9 years ago

    Hmm, I've been having trouble getting gauge (too tight!) with my Knit Picks nickel plated circs..maybe I should invest in some wooden ones? I'll try some swatches asap.

  • 35fc314f99f265fcbf7a1881357f93d7.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies0

    almost 9 years ago

    It may be that it is not so much the material but the needle manufacturer. I explored this issue several years ago when using a circular needles from several different manufacturers. There are no industry size standards or accepted tolerances, so an Addi 7, Knit Picks 7, and a Denise 7 may not be exactly the same size. As you say, the more stitches you are using in a piece the more the differences become apparent.

  • F3534bbc25444293b392dce18d7afba2.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies15

    Ann at KFI
    almost 9 years ago

    Interesting experiment. When I was on staff at a LYS in Connecticut we'd always emphasis using the same needles to swatch as you planned to use for the project. I bought a Denise set when I first learned to knit since it got me such a wide variety of sizes for an affordable price. However, I'm very aware my gauge is drastically different on a Denise needle compared to an Addi Turbo. It can be an issue when a swatch on a US5 isn't correct and I have to go down a needle size. For my US4 and smaller circs I've started seeking out Prym and Inox needles, as their coating gives me similar traction. Some recently acquired bamboo circs are working out well, too. My personal use of these needles isn't an official endorsement. ;-)

  • F541589058cb755e6d7d732d015964d8.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies14

    Iryna B.
    almost 9 years ago

    Thank you very much for this eye-opening experience! Swatching is very important! I hope more people will realize that. I Pinned your post and blogged it too. Thank you

  • 887a24917971919f8f3a6366c583f652.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    almost 9 years ago

    I discovered this interesting factoid for myself a couple of months ago. It would be nice if it were included in all the how-to-knit/crochet books/booklets/pages in magazines/websites.

  • 47f308d5204318fd995a2098a02f99ba.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies17

    almost 9 years ago

    I have also noted that I knit a lot tighter on circulars than on my DPN's, even when they are from the same material. That is why I usually knit sleeves on my DPN's.

  • 5bf35c18910fc299b7a2d0e164668f15.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    Mary Morris
    almost 9 years ago

    My teacher's motto: "The Wages of Sin is Not Counting Your Gauge."

  • 0a471af0934349ee079850c305765911.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    almost 9 years ago

    I knew that the different needle materials affected the stitch width but I had never paid any attention that it also affected the row width or that you might get a different gauge on circular needles. I'm trying to figure out why circular needles would make something smaller but not shorter?

  • D0834b8d94664675c3f8c7ae5ef24a53.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    almost 9 years ago

    I agree with Fran - I'm terrible with keeping my needles straight, and had two gauges, and noticed that they said different things for my small sock needles. I bought an industrial drill bit gauge, which had a lot more different diameter holes, and noticed that some of my labelled sevens fit into one hole, but others didn't fit in for two more holes down - there are wide differences in the width of needles. If you haven't put them all in a needle gauge and seen that they're the same size, they're likely not, and that's probably a bigger cause of gauge differences. Also, depending on how you knit, a long taper may mean tighter stitches, because you're wrapping yarn around a smaller diameter part of the needle.

  • 724d2c05f81cda1e917bde8ee72f185e.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies9

    almost 9 years ago

    Your scientific method is admirable, thank you for posting your results! I find that my gauge is effected by temperature. I live in Eastern Oregon, where temperature variations are extreme. Though the winter temperatures here can be well below zero, the summer temperatures are well above 100. Wooden needles in winter and metal needles in summer make the same gauge for me.

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    almost 9 years ago

    Thanks Heather, I never thought about temperature being a variable. There are so many things to consider!

  • 55027fdfaa8bdfe9c0b96d841db45ed9.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    almost 9 years ago

    Great things to think about. I wonder if or how the brand of a certain type of needle would change the gauge.

  • 00e172209258e02510f2f8f2c5e8a768.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies4

    almost 9 years ago

    Loved your experiment and the information you provided. I always knew I knitted differently on different types of needles. It is nice to know I was not crazy.

  • 94746a03a95332f0772ce8c16cd8264a.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    almost 9 years ago

    Humidity can also affect gauge—quite significantly for some yarns—so that's another factor to keep in mind. It makes many animal fibers stretchier, kinkier, and fluffier (it can also affect yardage measurement for the same reason: yarns measured in high humidity areas can run short in low humidity environments, and occasionally vice versa). It may affect wooden or bamboo needles, depending on how well they're sealed. It definitely affects my homemade softwood DPNs. (Also, sorry to be pedantic, but the title should be "effects"; alternatively, the preposition could be deleted to make "affects" a verb.)

  • D30a144aa75bb69590263586d0ff3cc2.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies13

    almost 9 years ago

    When using square needles it is suggested using one size larger than specified in the pattern; that being said, needle size matters little, as long as you achieve the required gauge. And, yes, temperature and humidity will affect both the needle material and the knitter. So, your gauge will differ with the same needle depending on these factors. I reccommend checking gauge every couple of inches and adjust needle size accordingly.

  • 2190eb55bc7a38098b001069bec19d62.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    Dayana Knits
    almost 9 years ago

    Excellent experiment, this is exactly the kind of thing I look for in the knitting blog world. I almost never knit with anything other than Addi Turbos, but there are so many new needles on the market that I have started to get curious. Must keep this in mind.

  • 319f4fe98bef1d97442cd7d53081d2d4.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies5

    Beverly Lawller
    almost 9 years ago

    I recently knit my first entrelac scarf. I started it on ChiagoGoo stainless steel needles which were more slippery than I wanted so I changed, in mid stream, to my wooden Dreamz needles in the SAME SIZE. The stitches were noticeably larger so I had to frog what I'd done with the wooden needles and go back to the stainless steel ones. It just occurred to me to put my husband's micrometers to work and measure, to the thousandths, the needles made of different materials. Temperature would affect the metal needles and humidity would affect the wooden ones. I also think there must be a range of dimensions to a size that the needle makers go by.. I've also noticed this in yarn of a given size. Caron's Simply Soft yarn in size 4 is not the same as Vanna's Choice yarn in size 4!!! The moral of the story is SWATCH, SWATCH, SWATCH.

  • 94bd7f792a43200874ab4e90d2374e44.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies14

    almost 9 years ago

    And the moral to the story is and should always be, "SWATCH". Than known s so much for posting this important info.

  • Fcb0f8951a16c65ce8bdba7794b0cc8e.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    almost 9 years ago

    I think the TKGA would be interested in your test and essay. Hope you will send it to them. Thanks for your efforts and for sharing!

  • E948c236ada0b8885e2c0f5ff20e0f73.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies18

    almost 9 years ago

    Based on this, my next sweater should be knitted on my Denise's, since I am a size 14 petite (wider and shorter). However I can continue to knit my socks and hats on my square Kollage needles, as I wear a size 7 shoe and a 6 1/2 hat. Good to know. .

  • 923dbc220f1411cf542df9bfc2804f11.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies0

    Chris Copeland
    almost 9 years ago

    I am really happy about you experiment and I think I will have to do my own to include KA bamboo ( I find they give me a looser gauge than my Harmony) I also have Cubix, Chiagoo lace and Hiya Hiya Sharps with tend to give me a tighter gauge than my KP Nova interchangeables. I plan to make a swatch binder with each type of needles I own. Thanks for the information and inspiration to do my own experiment with my knitting style ( I tend to be a loose throwing knitter). I also think it would interesting to compare throwing to continental style.

  • F4d0ef783a6311c1a0db2b2388ceffda.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    almost 9 years ago

    Thanks for this post, it's really useful. I'd really never thought about this at all. I'd also never considered how humidity or temperature might affect needles or yarn, as some mentioned in the comments. One super picky note: Affect is a verb, and effect (in this sense) is a noun. So the title should be either "Needle material affects gauge" or "Needle material effects on gauge."

  • 12633d512c7d579f29af38043c1b6a4f.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies9

    almost 9 years ago

    Interesting. I have real gauge variability problem. I'm a very loose knitter and usually have to go down at least two needle sizes. I bought myself a set of Karbonz needles for Christmas, in anticipation of my goal this year of knitting sweaters for myself. I was happy that my new serious attitude was helping with gauge issues, but it may very well have been the needles. The temperature and humidity issues are probably also something to take into account. Another reason to work a project through to completion - the environmental variables are more likely to be stable. Thanks for the great post!

  • 04dd24ff81b124618578836d96849e6c.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies16

    Robin Hunter
    almost 9 years ago

    What an informative post. I've noticed this difference myself and I love your scientific testing of each variable!

  • Ce15b6fd9a24cf438d6720fda62aedb0.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    almost 9 years ago

    Super-interesting! I can definitely attest to the importance of circular swatching -- my gauge is much, much tighter in the round (I purl loosely, I guess). I put together the newsletter for my local guild and I may ask your permission later to use some of this in a future issue!

  • 789bdb14a03f6f61861ce4455da5cb63.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    almost 9 years ago

    The lengthwise gauge is shorter for circular knitting because the throw for a purl stitch is longer than for an knit stitch. For a knit stitch the yarn is brought up from the bottom between the needles, but for a purl stitch, the yarn is brought over the top of the needles in order to get the stitch to hang correctly on the needles. This creates a slightly larger purl stitch than knit stitch. You can correct this by bringing the yarn up from the bottom and between the needles on the purl stitch, but that would require you to compensate for the change in how the stitches hang by knitting into the back of the knit stitches in order to flatten them out. While this wouldn't be too onerous for a piece of flat knitting, it would be very confusing to keep track of for patterns with ribbing or changes between knit and purl, so use with caution!

  • Efa94c58b46604606546f22fba9102c2.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies5

    almost 9 years ago

    Wow, I had no idea that the needle material would make such a difference! Love the graphic too. This is going to come in handy next time I’m having trouble getting the right gauge – try different needle types as well as sizes…

  • 4a47b3d520533a61e82ac420d47c2151.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies16

    Barb Collins
    almost 9 years ago

    This was a great post. It will make me take more time when swatching for sure. I usually spend a minimal amount of time swatching and prepping for a project. Thanks!

  • 7a33eb543c04ecfffc1c112882ab8170.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies11

    Carol Young
    almost 9 years ago

    I, like others who have commented, did not know the difference needle materials had that much effect on the finished product. I have noticed a difference between metal and wooden needles and have adjusted accordingly, but that 's the extent of my testing. I'll be more diligent in my trials from now on.

  • A6dccf14308eef22e5f12ea91e2c5a6e.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies4

    Nicole Garrison
    almost 9 years ago

    This was very interesting. I often wondered how my gauge could be so different from what was listed in the pattern (many times 3 or 4 sizes). It would be interesting if the patterns could carry this information from the test knitters but it would probably be on unwieldy proposition in most cases.

  • De5ecc59a1396e9066de34ff32ba4658.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies5

    Donna C
    almost 9 years ago

    Was not surprised about the width, but the length was shocking!

  • Dd7c0d3806686f7b75f11921073b111f.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies14

    almost 9 years ago

    This is so awesome who knew Thanks for an eye opener

  • 33836e1b51dd067c2daa9883a94277b5.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies18

    almost 9 years ago

    Thanks. This is very interesting !

  • C1ff9a75ccd45eb856195bd05476bee0.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies6

    Margaret Boski
    almost 9 years ago

    Thank you for posting your experiment results. I learnt the hard way, I was in a hurry to complete the sleeves of a jacket that I was knitting for my daughter. The yarn was 14ply and too heavy to knit together on the same circular needles so I used straight 7mm needles. One bamboo the other milk (resin). Surprise! Surprise! The width was different and number of rows from beginning to armhole bind off was short by 5 rows yet measured the same in length. In the end I undid the sleeve knitted on the resin needles and used the Bamboo needles to get the same length and width. Lesson learnt I'll knit a swatch if and when I try that again........

  • C6544999ee1655f961bd61c84ae4617c.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies6

    Susan S
    almost 9 years ago

    Another reason to use swatches. I have to branch out from using patterns that have "no gauge swatch required". Nice to hear about the variety of needles you use. I'm enjoying using needles my mom used but have bought plastic resin, bamboo, metal, and I'm always on the lookout for them at yard sales. Thanks for the information. Very worthwhile..

  • 7e37bef2afe149457fff487d78fe1797.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies1

    almost 9 years ago

    Thank you so much for clarifying this for me!!! I've just recently started routinely swatching, but I have multiple brands of needles...therefore I should probably get a full set of one kind I really love and go from there.

  • 148c7f67be7df6a78f7fa95ad3b87d88.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies6

    almost 9 years ago

    Wow. This is a great post, excellent information and completely new news to me. It kind of blew my mind, how much of a difference the composite materials of the needle could make! This certainly goes a long way to explain some mysterious results in finished projects that a person has made repeatedly. Thank you, Alexis!

  • C14fd6294c0fa1341b8ad83a96f95079.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies5

    almost 9 years ago

    Thank you for documenting this information in one handy place! I've noticed the exact things with different fibers/needle combinations...It has led to a needle stash in addition to yarn stash!

  • 97813f4c1692f8674d96199bcd1dc8f4.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    almost 9 years ago

    Thanks for this interesting post....a great excuse to expand my needle collection :)

  • Af9631947bc52ca08e3ad95370c338c5.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies9

    almost 9 years ago

    I didn't realize different needle materials could affect gauge so much. I do know that an acrylic circular needle sold by a big box store was the worst set of needles I've ever used. (I only bought that one because there weren't any others available in that size. I should have waited until they got more stock in!)

  • E03e2d773d9b5b000709ab2ac3812790.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies0

    almost 9 years ago

    thanks for this, i knit with a variety of needles and never thought they would affect the gauge so much, will be doing more swatches in future. i also change the needles i am using depending on whether i take something with me when travelling so i should really be consistent for the whole item LOL. enjoying reading your blog... lots of useful info :)

  • 2f2e2e689e4b8843eaa070d748d9ab32.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies15

    Lee Clifford
    almost 9 years ago

    You didn't state the actual gauge you were working towards just the number of stitches and rows you completed - I would be interested in knowing if any of your swatches met an actual gauge then you would know which needle works more accurately for your own knitting style. Your experiment did prove the age old adage of "swatch and gauge"! You have more patience than I to have done this for sure.

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    almost 9 years ago

    Lee, you're right. I didn't state a gauge that I was working towards, because I wasn't really trying to achieve a particular gauge. I guess this is the designer in me. Usually the way I begin a garment design is with a schematic. Then I pick a yarn and try it out on different sized needles. The needle size that I choose for the pattern is based on how attractive the fabric looks and feels to me. Then I use the gauge I get to figure out all the stitch counts for the pattern.

  • 7313d629e16c3dea7c8d5547f8f3ee79.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies18

    Jackie Ritchie
    almost 9 years ago

    This is amazing and most educational. May I share this with our knitting guild newsletter? It proves, again, the importance of swatching.

  • 0d7d01156b11cbe6978bdeec6c229e9b.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies3

    almost 9 years ago

    Do you think the difference had to do with material, or with the different "flex" in the joins between needle and cable? I've noticed that flex definitely impacts my knitting (even non circular) but never thought much about material. Interesting!

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    almost 9 years ago

    Lacey, I've never thought about the join in the needle being a variable too. Perhaps you're on to something there.

  • Cf73528a975044420c802277d932c5af.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies11

    over 8 years ago

    I have noticed the gauge difference between using wood needles and bamboo needles as well. My gauge is much larger with bamboo needles despite being the same size, There was such a difference I went to my needle gauge just to be sure I had the same size needles. I thought it was just me.

  • 3f0ebf649526cd066404cd5a63444ecc.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies4

    over 8 years ago

    I have an electronic caliper and have seen slight size differences in needles of the same marked size. Also, the length of the point (tip to full thickness) makes a difference, if you have long points they knit tighter. Can you measure and see if that might be it, versus material?

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    over 8 years ago

    Hi Lute, You're right that different needles might have slightly different measurements even though they are marked with the same number. Though all of my needles appeared to have very similar tip tapers, and they all fit snugly into my needle size tester hole (I don't own an electronic caliper), there are so many other variables that can affect the way your stitches form. My goal with this blog post was to drive home the importance of using the same needles for swatches as you do for your actual project.

  • 9e96d56be13568b08232b672e42854a3.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies0

    visit this website
    over 8 years ago

    Great information. Lucky me I came across your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later! Here is my web site: visit this website

  • 87aa2a6dcceaf4955ae1e79c5ddb9d87.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    Marie Z. Johansen.
    over 8 years ago

    Thank you for this excellent post! I have done a comparison of just the needles, but never thought to consider the TYPE of material the needles were made from. This is enlightening !

  • 55ca6647c36354d4f586d2b4a6fd5a30.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    over 8 years ago

    Really interesting! I've just discovered that the length of the points of the needles makes a significant difference to my gauge, as well as the speed at which I can knit, and how long I can knit for.

  • 29183a2c73e90ae84d06593240d6e91d.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    Alexis Winslow
    over 8 years ago

    Jesse, thanks for your comment! I think it's all about how the stitches form on the tips of the needles, and the length of the tip would certainly affect that. I feel like when I knit with very slippery needles, my hands tense up more which can definitely cause fatigue over time.

  • 5cb1167ebf5b5001d1ec48aaba2cae45.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies12

    over 8 years ago

    Very fascinating! Thanks for posting it. I'm curious as to whether you have looked for differences in either of the following: 1. Different shaped needles of the same size (ie. Nova vs. Nova Cubics). 2. Different types of wood.

  • 5cb1167ebf5b5001d1ec48aaba2cae45.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies12

    over 8 years ago

    Do you think the same findings would hold true for crochet hooks?

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    Alexis Winslow
    over 8 years ago

    Hi KnitsWithRaceCars, Thanks for your comment. I think there are many factors that can affect how the stitches are formed. It has to do with where the stitches are actually formed on the needle tip, and how tightly the yarn is held as the stitch is being made. If I'm using a slippery needle, my hands aren't as loose and my stitches get tighter. The real take-away is that you should always do your gauge swatch with the needles you intend to knit your project with. Otherwise, you might have some unexpected results! I imagine the same should hold true for crochet hooks, though I admit I'm no expert in that area.

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    over 8 years ago

    Wow! I never knew this and it had never occurred to me that materials could make such a difference. Thanks for the time and effort you put into this experiment and sharing it with the rest of the knitting world.

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    over 8 years ago

    This has to be the coolest info I've EVER read learning about knitting. I'm new to knitting and had no idea that they would differ your gauge do differently!!! You'd think that buying the same size needles would make the same size projects. Thanks for doing this and sharing it with us!

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    about 8 years ago

    I am a very experienced knitter from bedspreads to suits. However I am completely stumped on trying to knit a bear rug. The gauge says 7 sts stitches and 15 rows to 4" I have tried various needles and even doubled and tripled the yarn(which of course makes it too long)There is no way I can get 4" from 7 sts However hard I try. I even wondered if the pattern is wrong but it is probably me as the pattern picture looks fine. Can anyone help at all please? I have tries

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    Alexis Winslow
    about 8 years ago

    Hi Margaret, That sounds like a real doozie! Honestly, the likelihood that the designer got exactly 7 sts inch 4" is very low. Publications always round the gauge to the nearest whole number. Since your project is not intended for the body, and a perfect fit isn't crucial, "close-enough" is probably fine. If you're a real stickler, you might consider changing your yarn to get the correct gauge. Good Luck! Alexis

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    Hilda Steyn
    almost 8 years ago

    This is a stunning blog post and most informative. Is it safe to say then that the piece made with wood, seems to be the most 'balanced' (for the lack of a bettere word)? I have been wondering about this issue for a while now as there is a totally different look to my work if I knit or crochet with wood instead if aluminium. It is neater and my tension is more steadfast. With plastic, it is just the opposite; it doesn't look neat at all. It is as if I have more control with wood. The slip is just enough, not too much. Yes, yarn plays a bit part as some are more slippery than others. Howeveer, I am still to find a yarn with which wood doesn't work well.

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    almost 8 years ago

    Very interesting! I'm a crocheter and I'm now curious if the same holds true for the materials of crochet hooks. I may have to do my own experiment! My question for you: what is it about knitting needle materials that causes such a wide variety of gauges? Does it have to do with how the needle material grips the yarn, i.e. wood may grip yarn better because of its surface structure vs. metal or carbon being more slippery? Thanks for the article.

  • 0fd248292206063bb3fab040f3e0b968.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies19

    almost 8 years ago

    I just came across this article and it's one of the most interesting and useful articles on knitting I have recently read. My grandmother taught me when I was a child and one of the things she said was not to change needles mid-project. I also noticed a clear difference in my tension between wood, metal and carbon fibre. Great read, thank you! Anna,

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    almost 8 years ago

    for Heather, who asked about crochet hooks, the answer is a resounding YES! One brand to another marked as the same size, and with the same material makeup, will affect your gauge. Even the same brand sizes will affect gauge depending place of manufacture. Different materials, same size, different brands, too. So like Alexis says here, swatch with the hook you plan to make the project with! Great experiment, Alexis!

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    Priscilla Bouic
    almost 8 years ago

    I saw a link to this on Ravelry and loved the article. My conclusion from your experiment is that the yarn and needles used show that it is Metal Needles that knit up to what the standard gauge is in patterns for 200 sts and 150 rows; i.e., 200 sts = 40" at 5 sts per inch on No. 7 needles, and 6 rows = 1 in. Therefore, I conclude that most patterns are test knitted using metal needles. This is something to really keep in mind when we start a project where gauge matters. Swatching is important. Thanks you so much for this "heads up."

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    almost 8 years ago

    This post is very useful, thanks!!! We've got a lot of knitting grannies and were wondering what makes the size so different when using the same pattern. It couldn't only be the hand of the knitter. It's very clear now we will have to decide on which material to use for each pattern.

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    almost 8 years ago

    h'm. i wonder if the differences would also change between knitters? i.e.: if i repeated your experiment, would my gauge swatches be in a different order than yours? h'm . . . also sounds like it would be an interesting and informative class to hold.

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    almost 8 years ago

    Interesting results. I crochet more than I knit but I think I have the same brand and materials for most of my hooks and needles. I'll keep this in mind when I do pull out those bamboo dp's I bought on clearance. I'm also curious about how dyes might affect the gauge in different colors of the same yarn. I recently crocheted amigurumi elephants for my 8 grandchildren using different colors of Red Heart Super Saver yarn. You probably wouldn't get this in the nicer yarns you would want to use for sweaters but some colors ended up remarkably different in size than others. Of course, making 8 of these with a much smaller hook than is typically used for the size of yarn, fatigue might explain at least a part of the difference. But I've noticed with other projects that some colors have a different feel than others in some of the less expensive yarns I've used.

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    Carol LeClaire
    almost 8 years ago

    This is very interesting.....has anyone checked on the difference the cubic needles vs the round needle. I've just started using cubics and I think they knit alittle looser

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    Ellen Relyea
    over 7 years ago

    I never realize this .I have been knitting for years.Thank you for making me aware of this.I have a question for does the manufacture of the needles make a different or its just metal to plastic or wooden needles

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    Anne Borden
    over 7 years ago

    Thank you for the info and all your time. You'very shown me why my knitting seems to be so consistent and it certainly isn't my awe-inspiring expertise. For years I have owned only Hiyahiya bamboo interchangeables, with several extra tips in most sizes. I've enjoyed them more as time goes by. I also have a range of wood circulars to use when I travel and to grab for a quickie experiment. They aren't as slick as my Hiyas and I have thought of waxing them-your article certainly makes that seem like a good idea if I really used them for knitting. Thank you again, Anne Borden

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    over 7 years ago

    Very, very interesting - and helpful. Thank you for exploring this and writing it up for us. Personally, I'm not convinced that the needle tip makes a difference in stitch size. The stitch is formed on the tip, true. But it isn't actually finished until you've moved it up to the shaft and started the next stitch. It's that act of throwing the yarn for the next stitch that complete the prior stitch. So unless you actually keep several stitches on the tip at once... the tip shouldn't influence gauge. Of course, that's just in theory. ;)

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    over 7 years ago

    I have a theory on why this has such an effect. I read through many of the comments, but not all, so I apologize if someone else has already reached this conclusion! But, what I take away is that the more grippy materials result generally in shorter, wider stitches, and the metal in particular results in a very long stitch. I think this could be a result of how the yarn and the piece as you knit it ends up hanging on the needle and actually stretching out the yarn ever so slightly. It makes sense that a slippery metal needle would cause the yarn to hang quite a bit and stretch the stitches longer (and as a result, narrower) whereas a wooden needle with a decent grip on the yarn would hold the knitting in place, keeping the stitches from hanging and stretching out. I wonder, too, if the same test would yield results as varied in much smaller needles/yarn. Socks, for instance, are very lightweight as you knit them, and I wonder (if my theory is correct) if the pull of the knitting would effect the gauge so drastically. Just my thoughts!

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    Libby Riemersma
    over 7 years ago

    I used to knit washcloths with a picture in them on wood (bamboo), then I decided the wood was too grabby with the cotton yarn, so I went with my favorite metal needles (Susan Bates Quicksilver) and suddenly the washcloths were no longer square, but a lot longer (rectangular). I always had a feeling it was the difference in needle material. I'm switching back. Great post!

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    Diana Baseman
    over 7 years ago

    I have also noticed that each type if fiber is easier to knit with a certain needle material. I like wool with plastic or bamboo and cotton with metal. The less slippery yarns work better with the more slippery metal needles, for example.

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    over 7 years ago

    That's weird. I kind of understand why the gauge is tighter with slippery needles: you probably tighten up your wrapping unconsciously to keep the yarn on the needles. But why was the metal sample also longer?

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    over 7 years ago

    Thank you and thank Knitty for sharing this post!

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    over 7 years ago

    so do you love your carbon fibre needles the most???

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    over 7 years ago

    Excellent work! Makes sense, since when I use metal versus bamboo needles, I notice the difference in friction which has to effect gauge! Just another argument why doing swatches is so important!

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    over 7 years ago

    That is amazing - thank you so much for the info!

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    Linda Blakely
    over 7 years ago

    This is fascinating. I'm a new knitter and frankly don't even understand many of the comments. However, I now know that when I label my swatches, I also need to keep track of which needles were used. I regularly use bamboo/clover brand (is this included in the wood category?), wood (just bought a set of Knitter's Pride Dreamz Deluxe - densified laminated birch) regular birch, Addi Turbos, Addi Natura (bamboo) and Karbonz. Have definitely noticed I need to check my needles size with the gauge each time I start a new project. Am starting to notice that I like some needles a little better than others, but right now I think Karbonz and the Dreamz are my favs. There's such an incredible amount to learn about knitting. Had no idea that it's a good idea to knit circular swatches too. Thanks for your detailed research and for giving me a lot more to think about. Very valuable information!

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    Bev Moon
    over 7 years ago

    I've had a Denise set for many years--so long that the little knobs wore off and I had to order new cables. I am able for the most part to get gauge with the size needle that was recommended in the pattern but do have to drop down a size sometimes. Recently I was at a fiber show and saw the ChiacoGoo needle sets--they come in bamboo and metal but I have never really liked metal needles so bought the bamboo. They have really thin cables-the one thing that I don't like about my Denise set. With the Denise set it becomes a bit hard to move the stitches along if you are using the size 5 needles with the cable--they are almost the same size. But, back to the ChiacoGoos--I absolutely love this set-knitting my third thing with them and I have knitted the exact gauge called for with the size needle all three times. They start at size 2 and go thru 15. The cables screw into the needles but the end of the cable is free spinning so that they DO NOT unscrew as you knit with them. The set comes with 6" needles and you can buy the 4" needles and there are slots in the carry case to accommodate the shorter needles-I am slowly buying the shorter needles!! I am considering buying the metal set but I really have problems with my stitches slipping off using metal needles especially if the yarn is at all slippery. My one big problem is that I know I get a little bit different stitch gauge if I knit in the round and then flat--as in starting from the bottom and then dividing for front and back but it's not enough to drop down a whole needle so I've never quite figured out exactly what to do about this-any suggestions?

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    over 7 years ago

    Very interesting! I don't suppose you tried the square wooden needles? I found they work up smaller!

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    Ellen Relyea
    over 7 years ago

    Iam a knitter for years and just learning this about the needles.I am really surprise about this.I have switch to round needles even for flat work and love it .Any thing on rounds needles would love to read up on them.Than you again for the information.

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    Steve White
    over 7 years ago

    Well written, i totally agree with you on affects of needle material on gauge.

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    over 7 years ago

    Thanx for this article. I'm quite new to knitting, so all facts I can get into my head is great. I got that it was important to swatch, already during my first knits, even if it wasn't important for those, but I had no idea how important it was with material and circs vs. straight needles. I have never seen anything about this before and since I almost only knit on circs in wood (KnitPro Symfonie), I have never noticed anything myself. When I started to knit socks and used thinner needles, a few needles broke (one of my dogs loves to lie down on my knits....), so I got one pair in metal and a Carbonz one - and yes, I swapped in mid-knitting. Luckily these knits were so small that it probably didn't affect them much - and my knitting is probably not that even anyway, but I'll never do that again! This is an article that I'll print out and keep in my fact file. Thanx again!

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    about 7 years ago

    Lots of good information. Thank you! Lots to think about. I noticed a difference in gauge if I'm knitting back and forth on straight needles versus knitting back and forth on a circular of the same size. Now I think it's because of the needle material rather than how I'm holding the yarn and garment. . .

  • 703e1559be247eca990f60ae150637d9.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies13

    about 7 years ago

    Great post. Thank you. I observed the phenomenum of guage variation arising from different needle material of the same diameter after I resumed knitting in earnest a couple of years ago. The first time it registered with me was in making a lace shawl in two halves. So I became careful after that to knit garments in the same needle as I swatched. However I have just finished a cardigan, knit flat in pieces and realise that my guage is different on one side of the cardigan from the other despite my knitting with the same needles etc. (and usually have constant tension) I am perplexed. Reading this post has made me wonder whether temperature and humidity were factors in the guage difference. I knit the first side during a warm and more humid period (end of Summer). I knit the 2nd side of the cardigan in much drier conditions. Could it be that my needles(knit pro, wooden composite) and wool could have been affected and led me to knit a different guage. Whatever the cause, it has taught me to check my guage throughout a project - each piece as I go along! Am hoping I might be able to make the problem go away by manipulating the pieces during blocking. (The alternative of ripping out one piece is noy appealing)

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    over 6 years ago

    Wow, Thank you very much for taking the time to do this experiment. AND Thank you for raising my awareness. Of course I know gauge is important (very important). As I mostly knit socks, I'm not wondering how my gauge has been affected by different needles. Can't wait to do my own experiment!

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    deborah mcfarland
    about 6 years ago

    I've told my students for years that different needle material will cause differences in their knitting. I found it most interesting that as the st. gauges got looser the row gauges were tighter. Made me wonder what accounts for this? Just goes to show you can never have enough knitting needles.

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    Annette Toomey
    almost 6 years ago

    Hi! Thank you so much for doing that bit of research. A few years ago I began a blanket using Vanna's yarn by Lion Brand. The pattern called for all the colors in her line. As I began to crochet all the squares, I piled the squares one on top of the other. They were not aligning. You would think that using the same worsted weight yarn in a different color using the same hook would produce identical results! This project was put aside as I didn't know how to proceed.

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    Sarah Ligon
    over 5 years ago

    Your post and website are great! I can hardly wait to try your magic loop method...

  • Adfc23e1e82118cbf1eeaa8a0510b070.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies10

    about 5 years ago

    Thank you for this! I thought I was going batty when I kept getting different gauges on different needle materials. For me, bamboo ends up more loose than metal.

  • 69bbb3f0cba463ab5123c3352d03dac2.png?s=100& avatars%2fsheepsies8

    10 months ago

    Sometimes I wish designers would say "knit rows 2-4 until 7 inches long" instead of saying " knit rows 2-4 seven times. It would alleviate the frustration of garment being too short.

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