An interesting problem presented itself when Barb and I were learning Brioche knitting. We both grabbed size 9 knitting needles, cast on and started knitting. After 6 rows it became very apparent that I was knitting a scarf for Big Foot or Sasquash! Keep in mind, we were making-up the size we wanted for a scarf, we were not following a pattern, just following instructions on how to knit brioche. Since we were knitting scarves the gauge did not matter very much so we didn’t not bother with swatches. Looking at the needles, mine seemed larger than hers. We both whipped our our needle gauges to measure the size of my needles, my gauge said US 9 her’s said US 10. Hum…… She had an extra US 8 so I ripped out what I had knit and restarted with US 8. Perfect!
This brought the idea of knitting a swatch foremost to my mind. All knitters know that gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch of knitting that the “average knitter” will knit. Now there’s the crux, what is an “average” knitter? Articles always talk about “tight”, “average”, or “loose knitters”, I’ve checked a few and none mention the uneven sizing for needles.
My researcher brain kicked into gear and I started testing needle sizes and gauges. These are my results.
I used five different needle gauges (I couldn’t find my other two gauges):
- The Knitter’s Companion
- Prym – White card
- Debra’ Garden – Spiral
- Puiccomitta’s Hand
The needles that started it all are Knit Picks circular US 9:
Next, I tested a circular needle labeled US 8 that I picked up in Okinawa, Japan.
Knitter’s Companion and Boye measured them as US 8
Prym, Debra’s Garden and Puiccomitta’s Hand measured them as US 7
Now I decided to test three of my US 4 needles: Clover, KA and Knitter’s Pride
All five of my needle gauges measured Clover US 4 as US 4
Notice that Puiccomitta’s Hand and Prym measured the Knitter’s Pride as US 5
These gave the same results as Knitter’s Pride.
Conclusion? Not only do you have to worry about being a “tight”, “average” or “loose” knitter, the needle brand you choose also affects the gauge. The needles you purchased that are labeled US 8, might really be a US 7. Either bring a bunch of needle gauges with you when you purchase needles, OR make sure you gauge swatch when you knit a project where gauge is important! But, then there is the question: Which one of the needle gauges is most accurate 😎 Just knit the swatch! 😎
I am curious, I HATE knitting swatches! Are you a swatch knitter?