How to pick your needles
As a knitter, I’m always looking for better needles.
I first started knitting on needles given to me by my mom, and I had no idea what the little numbers at the end meant. Now, I can take any size needle, any size yarn and make anything! Wait a minute… yarn has size too? That’s the question I get from people who want to start knitting. People who are new to the craft don’t realize that yarn size plus needle size has to be taken into account when either making their own scarf, or following a pattern.
Gauge- what weird a word?
There’s reason why your scarf is too short or too wide! Let’s say that you want to make a scarf from some nice yarn that you picked up. It has no label on it. You also have some unknown set of needles. Relax, this is very simple. You need to know how many stitches it takes to make a swatch that is 4 X 4 inches. Let’s say it takes 28 stitches wide, and 20 stitches long. To calculate how many stitches you need to make your scarf 60 inches long: 20/4= 5*60= 300 rows, and 5 inches wide: 28/4= 7*5= 35 stitches!! Therefore, you would cast on 35 stitches and knit until you reach 60 inches, which is 300 rows. The gauge in this example is 28 X 20.
Last Christmas I bought myself a gift from my husband (because he didn’t know what to get me) of bamboo double pointed needles. I got them from Amazon.com and it was a set of 75 needles. I got every size, except for size 3mm, with 5 needles per set and they are awesome!! I use them all the time! No more do I lose my stitches off the needles, or break them from bending too much, and no more clicking! The clicking, to me, is the most annoying.
What I don’t like to see in knitting creations is tight work. There really needs to be a balance of give to the material. If you can stretch it easily, then it isn’t too tight. How do you avoid tight knitting if you aren’t doing it on purpose? Well, it’s all to do with the needles. Using size 4mm (6 US) needles on any chunky weight yarn is not a good idea. You need to try to stay within the requirements of your yarn. Chunky weight yarn is around 6mm (10 US) and up. The size of that yarn is written on the label, and to get very satisfying work from your yarn is to use the appropriate needle size.
When in doubt, always test it first! So go ahead and make your scarf! I’d love to see your results!
Photo credit: pennydogaccessories on Flickr (Creative Commons license)