I'm doing something wrong - help??

suebdooDecember 6, 2007

I have been knitting for as long as I can remember. I enjoy knitting fairisle sweaters (Nordic Knits) on circular needles (I panic when I have to sew in a sleeve!)

I have very nice tension (or so I'm told), this isn't the problem. The problem is that I have yet to make a sweater that is actually the size I am knitting. They always end up being much smaller. This is very disheartening as there is quite a lot of work put into these projects.

I was told to go down a size or 2 in the needles I use.

To be perfectly honest when I do a swatch for sizing it doesn't matter what size needles I use, I seem to get the same dimensions in the end. What's wrong with me? Does anyone have any suggestions for me. I am so limited as to where to go for help where I live.

Any suggestions would be most helpful!



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If your sweaters are always too small, then the answer certainly would NOT be to use smaller needles ("go down a size or 2 in the needles I use")

You would need to use needles a size or two bigger -- a size 8 instead of a 6, for example.

I don't at all understand how your swatches could come out the same size no matter what size needles you use. That plain doesn't make sense. Maybe you could describe how you knit the swatches? Do you always knit the same number of rows and stitches -- 20 rows by 20 stitches, say?

The only explanation would be if you tighten up your knitting when you use a larger needle. You may not realize you're doing it.

I would practice knitting swatches with various size needles until you get the right gauge. You will need to force yourself to relax your hands because, despite what you posted ("I have very nice tension (or so I'm told"), your tension in holding and knitting the yarn is much too tight. If your swatch is too small, your sweater will inevitably be too small as well.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 11:26AM
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Along with using bigger needles and doing a REALLY good swatch, I'd suggest always knitting in wool....that way you can block your sweater several sizes larger....I know....I inherited a couple almost finished sweaters at least 3 sizes too small for me - maybe more....and, I blocked them to fit. I use the back of the guestroom door, and push pins....works for me!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 2:24PM
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Yes, please describe how you knit your swatches and how you use the gauge you get to figure dimensions. You can also knit a bigger size in the pattern if your finished objects come out too small. If you are knitting sweaters in the round, you can put the stitches on waste yarn and try them on as you go so you you don't get too far before you find out they're too small.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 5:57PM
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I must be tensing up when I change needle sizes. This is all I can think of.

When doing a swatch, it calls for stockinette stitch. Knit one row, purl next, knit, purl etc.

I think I had better spend some time getting the swatches down pat before I continue on with the sweaters.

Thank you for your suggestions. I truly have been misinformed re: going to a size smaller needle. This advice came from a woman who runs a wool shop. Can you believe this?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 6:07PM
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I might suggest that there could be a difference in sizes of patterns versus what you buy at a sweater store. I remember making a dress for DD in college and being forewarned that the patterns come in a totally different size than the same size of ready made dresses in the store. I could not believe the difference.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 7:59PM
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First, look at the finished measurements of the sweater pattern you want to make.

Second, Measure a sweater that fits the way you want the finished sweater to fit.

Third, ALWAYS make your gauge swatch in the same yarn you will be making the sweater in.

I've had the same problem. I always have knit tighter than what gauge is with the given needle size, so have had to go to at least 2 sizes larger needle. Recently, for some reason, my guage has actually been almost exactly what it should be for the needles and yarn specified in the patterns I have made.

Keep practicing. Too many stitches to the inch, go up in needle size. Too few stitches to the inch, go down in needle size.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 9:03PM
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Thanks so much for your replies.

I am knitting swatches this evening with my box of knitting needles beside me. Yikes!


    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 7:55PM
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tami ohio

I think it's common for knitters to loosen up their tension as they knit more and more. I know that's what happened to me. New knitters often knit very tight, which makes knitting both slow and difficult. I think we subconsciously figure that out as we get more knitting knitting and gradually loosen up.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 10:21AM
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