The thing about knitting tension…

… is that everyone is different.

Take this gorgeous sock that Elinor knit for me (scroll past the Sunrise Circle gorgeousness. Scroll. Don’t fixate on the tweediness. Scroll, dammit!):

Petticoat Socks by VΓ©ronik Avery, Melanie Falick’s Weekend Knitting

I admired this sock on Elinor’s blog when I first saw it – so cute! Now that I have it, the fit is so perfect! The style is such a great match to my wardrobe and the way I wear handknit socks! (and there were other gifts in the box!) So, of course I made it my mission to knit the second one exactly like the first!

Elinor told me that she used INOX US 3 needles, but when I tried that same size (and the same yarn, obviously), the second sock came out too big! So, I went down to 2.50 mm dpns – that’s like a US 1.5 (INOX makes them, and I believe they label them US 2).

Having decreased the needle size, I think I’m now matching Elinor’s knitting tension. I suppose that makes me… what? A loose knitter??? At least as compared to Elinor!

Then, remember the lovely poppy sock? Oh, poppy LL. I miss it so. Anyway… I used US 0 dpns, but Tiennie had to go up to a US 2 to match my tension! This, once again, makes me a loose knitter. I wonder what Claudia has to say about that? Claudia – me, a loose knitter???

There’s no surprise in this observation. Each one of us writes differently, holds their fork differently, brushes their hair differently, flips the pages of a book differently… even if we’re all using our hands and the same implements. Why shouldn’t we knit differently?!? Just because we’re using the same yarn and needles doesn’t mean a thing!


33 thoughts on “The thing about knitting tension…

  1. Heide

    I too am a loosey goosey when it comes to knitting gauge. Worsted weight yarn can’t be knitted with anything bigger than a size 4 needle without resembling a fishing net in my home. And here I thought that I’d never use those math skills learned in high school!

  2. Ashley

    I knew you’d love the challenge of getting the tension right πŸ™‚

    I was amazed by the 0/2 thing between you and Tienne–that seems like such a huge difference. Now I’m super curious about what I’ll be using on my second sock!

  3. Agnes

    Wow! The colour of this sock matches so well with that of the shawl/scarf/sweater (honestly, I don’t know what it is!) in the last post!

    I am a very very tight knitter … that sometimes gives me problem! Aargh!

  4. Dove

    I’m a very loose woman, myself. For sweaters, I just knit a smaller size, because by the time I get gauge, I’ve also gotten a bulletproof fabric. For socks, you obviously can’t do that.

  5. Elinor

    Ha! Well, I’m glad you like the sock and that you’ve been able to match gauge! If it’s any consolation, I felt like my knitting was much tighter with the Fixation than with wool. I found it hard to get the twisted stitches to behave when I knit them loosely!

  6. Kate

    I am almost always right on gauge, as per the pattern. This is the main factor in me not wanting to learn to knit ‘properly’ (I kind of throw and twist. It seems to be working for me, though)

    Good gauge is a wonderful thing. All hail the gauge.

  7. Beverly

    That’s a lovely thing about knitting – that so many can do it so differently.

    Since you mentioned it, just how do you wear your hand-knitted socks?

  8. Angie

    Lucy Neatby said that experienced knitters are loose knitters. I like to remember this at the risk of all other realities. I have trouble with row gauge because of my loose knitting. In your friend’s blog, she mentions gauge problems with the sunrise circle (yes I stopped to look), so I blame her entirely and crown you perfect. Does this solve the dillemma?

  9. Heidi

    I envy loose knitters. I’m an extremely tight knitter, even though I’ve knitted since childhood (about 20 years, but who’s counting). Knitting puts a strain on my hands and shoulders, and I wish I could loosen up a bit. No luck so far…

  10. Sam

    Hi Kathy. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time from “across the pond”, and this is my first comment. Love the socks πŸ™‚

    I think I take first prize when it comes to “knitting differently”… but things get knitted successfully so where’s the harm? Here’s a link to my blog for a photo and description of “the claw”.

  11. Amy

    That’s really interesting.

    I’m a very tight knitter. I own size 0 and size 1 dpns, but I’ve never needed to use the 0s and have only used the 1s once because I always have to go up at least one size to get gauge when knitting socks. Now that I’ve read that someone else had to use size 2 to get your size 0 gauge, it makes a lot of sense to me why I’ve never used the 0s…I would also likely be a size 2 knitter in the case of that sock.

  12. Adrienne

    I am just about the loosest knitter ever… I knit DK weight yarn on size 1 needles and get gauge. It’s crazy. Can one retrain oneself to knit tighter?

  13. Kelley Green

    I was such a loose knitter when I started knitting socks that I couldn’t get needles small enough to get decent tension. I was down to US0 and holding them so tight I thought they’d break. I just can’t grip anything smaller than that without my hands cramping. Thankfully, my tension has improved (don’t ask me how or why) in the past year or so and my socks are so much nicer for it. :)k

  14. Shamiran

    Funny! I just e-mailed you on that not too long ago! πŸ™‚ I guess I SHOULD go up to 2s… LOL

    It is a fascinating thing though… A coworker is working on a pinwheel sweater (which I am helping her with.) We hold our yarn differently and have different tensions, SO… I really have to make her do everything by herself on this one. The more work I do on the sweater, the more wonky it will turn out.

    I’m finding my knitting is getting tighter with time… but for the most part, I just let the yarn tell me what needles to use. The gauge on the sleeve is just a suggestion IMO.

  15. Jenni

    Oh, brava for eulogizing the loose knitter! I, too am a loose knitter and for the life of me, I can not figure out how to be tighter. Even with more tension, I am usually 1 or 2 needle sizes off. Variety, it really is the spice of life.

  16. string

    Hail the loose knitter! Moi aussi. I am still stunned by how large a needles people can use on socks, I use 0 or 00 a lot, but sometimes I go up to a 1.

  17. Seanna Lea

    I learned the hard way that I needed to make socks for myself on a smaller needle than the pattern instructions. I have given away a lot of socks because I knit them so loose (too big) for me.

  18. Stella

    Heehee — you’re like my swap grandchild! I knit for Elinor, and she knit for you. That socks looks beautiful. I’m glad you were able to match gauge eventually. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

  19. Suzy S

    I have a different gauge depending on which hand I a holding the yarn in. If I use continental(left), which I usually do, I have to drop down anywhere from 2 to 4 needle sizes. I use anything from a 000 on up to a 4 or 6 for almost all of my knitting. My right hand, which I dont usually use, is more on “regular” gauge. Ain’t we funny?

  20. Emily-Jane

    I also envy you loose knitters! I have been knitting since childhood (more than 20 years. . .) and my gauge tends to be a lot tighter than what’s indicated in patterns or on ball bands. Knitting too much can definitely strain my shoulders and hands. I think it has to do with being kind of tense overall, sadly. My eye doctor tells me I am working too hard to focus my eyes, and that’s why I keep having to get my perscription updated.

    But as far as the practice of knitting goes, I don’t really mind having tight gauge. I frequently substitute different yarn, use vintage yarn, mess about with the pattern, or create my own pattern, so I have a lot of reasons to be a dedicated swatch-er!

    Anyway, Grumperina, as always your socks look delicious. You’re an inspiration!

  21. Amy

    I wondered, when this swap first came around, what would happen wrt gauge. I seem to be miraculously getting a similar-enough gauge to Stacey (the sock is lace and hers is *definitely* blocked, so it’s still a bit of guesswork at this point).

    …Which I guess makes us both average, since I rarely have to change from the recommended needle?

  22. Pamela

    Loose girls have more fun! Don’t listen to what your mother told you! I’m a tight gal and thus home most Saturday nights alone! πŸ™‚

  23. Diana

    Yes I totally agree! I am a SUPER tight knitter. I wish I could loosen up, because it can be really hard on my hands, but I like the way tight stitches look! This is why gauge can be such an issue!

  24. tiennie

    Maybe I’m just a super tight knitter and you are just right? This really fascinates me that we got the same sock on different needles and you and Elinor are getting the same sock on different needles. My sock pal, Silja (pikku-kettu knits) used the same size needles I did. In any case, I loved the pattern/yarn/color you chose for me. Thank you again!

  25. margaux

    i find that my tension totally changes with the needles but i guess I consider myself a tighter knitter than loose… those socks are gorgeous. yet another pair going in the queue!

  26. Jess

    I knew you were a loose knitter when I tried the Roza’s… mine were too small for me when knit on 2.0mm. Perfect for my little mom though. πŸ™‚

  27. Alison

    I’m loose too. I routinely knit my swatches on a US needle size down from what the pattern calls for, and even then I’m usually over gauge. But my stitches are nice and even and my technique works for me, so as long as they keep making teeny tiny dpns for sock knitting, I’m cool with my looseness.

  28. Kathleen

    I’ve never knit socks. I’ve knit sweaters and shawls and gloves and hats and scarves but never socks but you blog is convincing me that has to be my next adventure….

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