Feeling overwhelmed with knitting needles? When you are new to knitting it is natural to be confused with the options of so many different needle types, materials, and sizes. If you are wondering does knitting needles size matters, in this blog we’ll be discussing how they do and will affect the outcome of the size of your project.
In most knitting projects, the needle you choose will depend on the weight of the yarn and the desired finish. Another thing to consider is if you are knitting flat or in the round and the number of stitches you need for the project. For knitting back and forth the options include single pointed as well as circular needles. For knitting in a circle, the choices are circulars and a set of double-pointed knitting needles. The general rule of thumb is the bigger size needles go with heavier yarn while the smaller size goes with lightweight yarn. But, the fact is knitting needles affect the size of stitches, bigger needles bigger stitches, and smaller needles small stitches. To understand why knitting needles come in so many sizes, you'll need to understand the concept of "knitting a gauge swatch."
If you are knitting a project from a pattern, you will have recommendations for specific yarn and the size of the needles to use. Following these instructions gives you the best way to knit the project as accurately as possible. The pattern will also list the expected "gauge" for this yarn and needle combination.
How Gauge is the key to getting the right knitting needle size?
A gauge is a measure of stitches in a swatch. For example, a pattern mentions a gauge of 9 stitches over 2 inches of stockinette stitch. To ensure getting the gauge right, you will knit a swatch with the knitting needles and yarn mentioned. Once complete, wash and block the project. Then calculate with a tape measure. As the pattern mentions you need to have
What if the number of stitches in your swatch doesn't match the pattern gauge, or you've chosen a different yarn than recommended? This is when you adjust your needle size. Sometimes even using the exact yarn and needle listed in the pattern, your gauge won't match. You may be a tighter or looser knitter than the pattern designer.
If your stitch count is fewer than the pattern gauge size down your knitting needle.
If your stitch count is more than the pattern gauge size up your knitting needle.
Gauge is essential when knitting garments. As you can see, a sweater knitted on the wrong size needles for the gauge will come out either too large or small. Gauge is optional but still recommended for a project such as a blanket or a scarf. But you may still need to adjust needle size based on yarn weight.
Making your decision
Gauge swatches are your friend when beginning to knit. Too many stitches mean you need a larger needle, and too few means try a smaller needle. Keep swatching and testing out different sizes of needles, and soon you'll be turning out hand knits to be proud of!