Yarn Detective: The Mysterious Phenomenon of the Gauge Shifters

November 9, 2018

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  • I almost lost my coffee when reading about disorganized crimp and how it was like putting a cat in a pet carrier. The cat on my lap was, for some reason, not amused. Thank you very much for an informative and entertaining presentation of gauge switching.

  • This is brilliant! Lighter weight sweaters are my life here in mild north Texas, where heavyweight wool sweaters are sweat-inducing overkill at least 11 months of the year. I’m looking forward to (maybe next winter, at my wip rate) using this to adapt more beautiful, yummy sweater designs to my habitat in something other than cotton or linen!

  • Thank you, Jillian, for another amazing and insightful article. There is so much to understand about gauge…

  • Thanks for a wonderful explanation. I love hearing about the Why.

  • Boy, would I LOVE to go to a knitting retreat that let participants explore these ideas in depth! I always deeply appreciate these articles but can feel my brow furrowing as I concentrate on these woolly concepts. I’d sign up in a flash for a weekend of literal hands-on learning about these concepts. #takemymoney

    • That sounds amazing to me, too!

    • Agreed! Lots of yarns to practice on, leaving with a collection of labeled swatches. pair this with a workshop on how to take my stitch gauge and do the math to knit a basic sweater.

  • Thank you! This is brilliant. I have a guest room, would you like to move in and knit with me all the time?

  • I’ve done the other direction, I knit a pair of stranded mittens out of worsted-weight Rowan yarn on size 1.5 sock needles. Unlike my other handknit mittens, this pair KEEPS THE IOWA WIND OUT! (I think they could also stop bullets…)

    • ❤️ Love this idea! The wind blows in Ohio too. I need a pair of Very Warm dog walker mitts.

    • Fixed you have to adjust the size?

  • Great article! I love how the spinning know-how intersects with knitting and blows your mind! Now I’ve got to get my hands on some Cormo fleece and try woolen spinning.

  • Sort of dumb am-I-getting-this-right question: When you knit a sweater in bulkier yarn than the pattern calls for you need more yardage, but am I right in seeing that when you use the prescribed yarn on a larger needle you need LESS yardage? Because oh man could that help me when I don’t buy enough yarn after all …

    • Danielle, I think you’ve got it. I usually find I need less yardage when I knit a sweater in bulkier yarn because it takes fewer stitches per inch to get the width I need – I might need 1400 yards of fingering weight but only 800 yards of bulky to knit the same sweater…of course the gauge will be vastly different as well as the weight and appearance of the garment.

      So when you use the prescribed yarn on a larger needle, it’s kind of like sizing up the yarn to a larger gauge and yes, that could definitely help you when you don’t buy enough yarn after all…

  • What a fantastic, understandable, and useful explanation! Thank you!

  • Wonderful article. Thank you! I often see great cable patterns but part of me cringes thinking how thick and inflexible the fabric might be. New options!!

  • can someone please tell me what a schmatta is…??? 🙂

  • THIS IS SO USEFUL!!! Thank you! 🙂

  • I almost never knit to gauge but I do knit swatches to determine what needle to use, and what I am looking for is a certain feel to the fabric. That is what I go by. Then I adjust the pattern to the new gauge.

  • What size needles did you use to achieve the different gauges?

  • Great article. I learned to always swatch and let the yarn tell you what is best. You describe it perfectly.

  • As someone who wears my handknits often and for years, I worry about whether my more loosely knit garments will wear as well. I know there are lots of variables here, but this is certainly one of them. The last sweater I finished (the oft-knit beekeeper) called for dk weight yarn knit at more like worsted gauge. It is lovely, but I worry it won’t look nice as long as some of my more firmly knit garments.

  • Hi I love knitting . It’s something not everyone can do . I am one of the lucky persons who know how to crochet . It’s one of my favorite hobby. Yarns are beautiful to work with . Thank you.

  • This is such a great article! My handspun is precious to me and I’m glad to use less and still get great results. I don’t design my own patterns. How do I adjust a pattern? Do I follow the small size, when I need a large, for example? Thanks.

  • Thank you!

  • Great article. I really need to start spinning a wider variety of fibres for knitting sweaters.

  • Great read – so informative!

  • This is fabulous! I have a sweater worth of lettlopi, and even though I live in Minnesota I’m afraid it will be too warm for a pullover. Excited to try this!

  • So timely. Hubs just informed me he’d like me to knit him another sweater, lighter weight that he could wear inside, “like the one he bought in England.” (Um, yeah, that’s store-bought, machine-knit, super-duper fine Merino.) In fairness, the sweaters I have knit for him were early days in both my knitting and our marriage, they are exceptionally warm and questionably finished.

  • I don’t know it’s breed make-up but I do know that Blue Sky’s Woolstok is a gauge chameleon (oh and *thank you* for the ear worm – I’ll be singing Cormo cormo cormo cormo cormo cameleon for *days*). It’s ballband puts it firmly in worsted territory, worked on a 4 or 4.5mm needle, but I’ve used it on a 7mm (!) and love the fabric that resulted.

  • The take home lesson is to experiment with a different needle size and make a few swatches. And this experimentation opens up the option to use two on paper incompatible yarns in some cases in the same garment.

  • Thank you. I knew there was a good reason why I don’t like superwash fibers. Myeh! Anything I make that takes time and patience I wash carefully by hand. I’ll use acrylic (which I also don’t like) for items for kids and those I know who will just throw them in the machine.