March 30th, 2019

Yarn, Needle and Gauge Choices with Guest Author Jody Richards of Knotions!

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Yarn, Needle and Gauge Choices

Picking these three things is the holy grail of knitting! We have lots of options, but it shouldn’t paralyze you into not making any choice. Or, worse yet, just throwing your hands up in the air and “choosing” to just use what’s on the ball band.

Yarn Choices

This is probably the easiest of the three. Are you attracted to a specific color? Or maybe, you’ve used the yarn before, so you already know what to expect.

Don’t limit your choices just to what you know and have used before. There are SO MANY great options available – different colorways, unusual spins/plies and even branching out into other fibers. Haven’t tried a chainette ply before? Or, maybe that one cotton you used really hurt your hands so you swore it off. For me, I used a single yarn way back in the day and didn’t like it, so I swore off all singles after that. Fortunately, I tried it again because I LOVE LOVE LOVE singles and the way they take the dye. I’m so happy I tried it again because I learned just how much I love them.

If you’re curious to read more about yarns, fibers and how to evaluate if one yarn is good when another was recommended, the Knotions post on substituting yarns can be a great tool for you to use.

Needle Choices

You probably have your favorite brand of needles, tip type and material choice (for me, it’s metal ChiaoGoo Needles) but that doesn’t stop me from keeping other needles in my stash. I use them when they fit the bill.

A couple things to consider

  1. Your Own Way of Knitting – Do you tend to knit tightly? More loosely? This is probably something you adjust for without even thinking about it and you probably say something like this to yourself “well, they suggest a US#8, but I know that’ll be a US#6 for me”. If you do something like this, then you’re well on your way!
  2. Material – Do you want the grip of a wood? Or maybe, you need the slickness of metal. They both have their uses (and I even have several pairs of DPNs even though I don’t ever use them in the “traditional” way for small-circumference knitting.
  3. Size – Are you looking to work the yarn at a “regular” gauge? Or maybe, you want to make it tighter (often, this is the case with socks). Or possibly, you’re making a lace piece and you want a bigger needle so it’s airy and light. All these options can make sense!

Gauge Choices

The gauge on the ball band is really just a suggestion and isn’t meant to be an “all other gauges are subpar” kind of statement.

What does this mean for me?

Gauge is such a personal thing, and I really don’t think you can make a good decision until you’ve worked up a few gauge swatches to see. The same yarn can be worked in a variety of gauges, and, depending on the application – EVERY ONE OF THEM is worthwhile and valuable.

This is just another way of saying to respect your thoughts, respect your impressions and take into account how you expect the piece to be worn and laundered afterwards.


Final Thoughts

Yarn, needle and gauge don’t have to be a mystery! In fact, at this point in my knitting journey I can often see a yarn and think “I’ll use these needles and this gauge”, but there are times when even I just don’t know. And in those times, working a gauge swatch is really my only answer.

The important thing is – don’t be limited by what the ball band says. Use it as a guide – but only as a guide. It can tell you important things, just don’t treat it like it’s written in stone and is never to be strayed from because you’ll miss out on some great options!


About the Author – Jody Richards is the founder of Knotions Magazine and has been an avid knitter and crocheter for almost 40 years. Her mission is to make sure that people don’t put garter stitch edges on their gauge swatches (read more about them in this post) and she thinks that both knitting and crochet are viable crafts.


4 Responses to “Yarn, Needle and Gauge Choices with Guest Author Jody Richards of Knotions!”

  1. Nylon Yarn Says:

    the way you share your thought and experience is so great. Thank’s for sharing,,,

  2. Anoop Kothari Says:

    A couple things to consider, there is a bullet point numbered 4 but no text. Typo or something important is missing?

  3. Mathias Becan Says:

    Hi, Many thanks for sharing this quality information about fibres!

  4. Ajay Chauhan Says:

    Hi There I really like this article. it’s very helpful for me

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