I don’t know
Let’s continue last week’s discussion on needles. The needle question I get most often (actually, the knitting question I get most often) is…what size needles should I use.
And some of you are totally going to get mad about it, but…I don’t know.
I’m sorry. I’m not being mean. I’m not messing with you. I’m not refusing to tell you as part of some weird power play. I really truly don’t know. The only way to know your needle size for sure is to swatch.
But here’s the thing, getting a specific gauge (like 5 stitches per inch or 8 stitches per inch) generally only matters if you’re trying to end up with a finished object of a specific size.
For the tiny things, getting a specific finished size isn’t usually the goal. That star or heart or snowman is going to be adorable whether it’s 4 inches tall or 5 inches tall. So getting a particular gauge isn’t important, and you don’t need to swatch with the intent of hitting a specific gauge. Instead, you want to create a firm, dense fabric that will give your project structure and keep whatever you fill it with from showing between your stitches.
The best way to get that kind of fabric is generally to use the smallest needle you can comfortably manage with your chosen yarn. For me, that often means using a 2-2.25 mm (US size 0-1) needles with thinner yarn and very slightly larger needles for thicker yarn. But you should use the smallest needles you can without hurting yourself.
For the tiny things, if you don’t want to make a proper swatch, you can often just cast on with the smallest needles you think you can use with your chosen yarn, work for a bit, and see if you like your fabric. You may have to rip it out and change needle sizes! But you can often get away with not working a gauge swatch if you’re willing to risk it.
For wearable things, you generally do need to get a specific finished size, so you have to be a bit more precise. We’ll talk about that next time.
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