gauge troubles

Ok, here’s the thing… I know I’m a loose knitter.  I nearly always have to go down two needle sizes, and I’m ok with that.  Except as it relates to 4-ply yarn.  I’ve been trying to knit Martha.  I didn’t even bother swatching with the called for size 2s, but I did try size one needles, which weren’t small enough.  This required a trip to the LYS, where I bought size 0 and 000 needles.  I got gauge in stockinette on the size 0s, and those are small but tolerable for me.  Then I looked at the pattern and found that my gauge needed to be 7 st/in in the ribbed eyelet pattern, not stockinette.  I cast on anyway, but instead of 16.5″ I was getting 18″ across the back.  Ugh.  So I ripped and swatched with the size 000 needles (which are seriously like knitting with pins) and got something close to gauge in pattern, but here’s the thing… I am not going to knit an entire sweater on size 000 needles.  That’s just really ridiculous.  So how do I work on tightening up my gauge a bit, without causing stress to my fingers?  The reason why I knit so loosely is to avoid stress injuries since I need my hands healthy for work.  I used to knit more tightly, but then I also used to have some hand issues, which I don’t anymore.

Right now I’ve cast on with the 000 needles and done the required rows of garter.  I’m supposed to switch to the larger needles, but I need to figure out what I’m doing to make it so loose first.  Hmm…

Possibly I’m a little stressed about work right now – I’m totally convinced that they will realize I’m a giant fraud and fire me… even though I’m not a fraud.  I just feel stressed about being full time, and figuring out what that means.  Ah well… it will be ok, I just need to work on my self confidence!

So… any tips on tightening up gauge?  I knit continental, and the only (maybe) unusual thing I think I do it to hold my left index finger out from the work while guiding the yarn over it.  But when I try to move it in it looks sloppy… ugh.

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11 thoughts on “gauge troubles

  1. I knit similar to you – I think it has to do with continental style knitting. I always go down one or two sizes as well. You might want to save this yarn for your stash and find a yarn with a smaller gauge than the pattern calls for so you can stay on size 2 needles without hurting your hands?

  2. I knit continental as well and have the same problems. I wrap the yarn twice around my index finger, which keeps the yarn a little tighter and allows me pull the stitches tighter if I need to. Hope that helps!

  3. Toni says:

    I’ve found any attempt at changing your tension works great for about an inch. Then you get into the pattern, you’re paying attention to the TV, the kids, whatever, and you go right back to your old habits, and old tension. Have you thought about modifying the number of stitches you cast on to fit your gauge, rather than following the pattern exactly?

  4. 000’s? I don’t think I could even handle socks at that size. I also knit continental, and I usually have to go down one needle size. I’m okay with that, since, like you, I don’t need hand issues. I think I would be inclined to change the gauge of the pattern and work in a different yarn. Of course, that is a lot of work, and may not appeal to you. But then, and entire sweater on size 000’s is also a lot of work and doesn’t seem to appeal to you, so maybe a gauge change would be the lesser of the evils.

  5. I knit continental and I haven’t discovered a pattern for when I need to go with larger or smaller needles. What has astonished me more than once is what happens to swatches when I wash them. This usually sends me down one or two needle sizes b/c of the “bloom.”

    I read somewhere (maybe on Knittyboard?) that continental is a good anecdote for really tight knitters. The suggestion to tighten up continental stitches is to either wrap the yarn around your fingers more then once, or keep the tension to your ball tight. I wonder if you could sustain that over a whole sweater though.

    Good luck!

  6. wow! size 000 – i can feel my fingers cramping :S

    WOuld you consider redoing all the math and calculations so that it works to YOUR gauge as opposed to you working to rowan’s gauge?

  7. Perhaps you should try bamboo needles? I’ve worked with Rowan’s 4-ply yarns before, and find that the texture makes it very slippery on metal needles. I’m a tight knitter, but metal needles always makes my stitches loose – so I knit with bamboo needles 90% of the time.

    I knit continental too, and I gained the habit of automatically tugging on my yarn after each stitch.. Keeps them neat. :) Good luck!

  8. I am a dedicated thrower and yet I too have to drop down in needle size. Sometimes I have to go down in needles by 3 sizes.
    My only advice to you is to buy more yarn. First, it will make you happy. Second, you can buy a yarn that will give you the gauge required.
    Best of luck in both your knitting and your new ft job.

  9. I have the exact same problem! I’m a continental knitter and I always have to go down 2 or 3 needle sizes. This was the exact fear I confessed to in my last blog entry. I’m afraid when I pick up one of those Rowan patterns that I’ve been longing to knit – I won’t be able to get gauge one size 2s and then what’s next? Size 000s !!!!

    I’m pleased to read some of these suggestions: buying thinner yarn or adjusting the number of stitches. I’ll be interested to see what you end up trying. I guess these adjustments may be more work for us – but in the long run we are saving our hands. I use my hands a lot for work and I can’t afford lasting hand strain either.

    Good luck!

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