Posted by: GourmetGirl | July 1, 2014

Needle Sizes

Yesterday I received a double whammy of temptation from Webs Yarn Shop!

1st an enticing email to add a fingerling weight yarn to my stash – and yes, I would knit a jacket or sweater with the yarn! Then their magazine came in the mail to excite me even more!HUASCOARAU.17.largeThumb.1

I also was pleased to see jackets and sweater patterns shown for sock and lace weight yarn. But, not so happy about the size of needles used on the garments. U.S. 7/4.5mm for a jacket?! And with all that weight how much will that jacket grow with wear?

Think about it, when knitting socks most use anywhere from U.S. size 0-3/2-3.5mm size needles. You don’t want your socks to stretch and bag with wear – why would you want your sweaters to get big and baggy? Yes, I do realize that is a “look”. But, knit it that size – don’t just “expect it to grow”.

Take control over your knitting and you will be happier with the end results. Do that dreaded thing called “swatching”.

When I see the tag on a skein of yarn, I grab 2 sizes down from the suggested needle size for my first swatch. You may be surprised that you obtain the gauge indicated with the smaller needles.

When wet, yarn can be manipulated to a larger or smaller size. It is best to allow the swatch block the way it wants to lay.  Don’t be tempted to pull at it to be larger or squeeze it smaller just so your swatching will be complete. Watch out for yarn that really grows when wet! That is a really good clue to pick up even smaller sized needles for your project.


At the right is a jacket I knit with sock yarn on U.S. size 3/3.5mm needles. I have worn it, stuffed it in a bag, and tied it around my waist. It still has “give”, but does not stretch out of shape. Sock yarn is just the yarn for this kind of abuse and to keep on making you happy! (I think I will add that sock yarn from Webs to my stash!)

I am sorry for all the patterns out there that entice you to knit them because of larger needles used. It does take some practice to figure it all out and still knit the pattern. And even then, there are no guarantees! – but hopefully, with your extra time swatching, your hours of work will not be thrown to the bottom of your closet.

Happy Knitting,


P.S. I knit my socks on U.S. size 0/2mm needles for less “give” with the yarn. I want my socks snug on my feet.





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