Monday, May 9, 2011

Tension (basic knitting tutorial)

My gauge guide is a silver metal bar that many non-knitters may mistake as a ruler with a series of holes in the centre.
You may have overheard a knitter say, "Wow, this sleeve looks too big. I hope my tension is correct."
What does that mean?, you may have wondered.
Tension refers to the number of stitches per inch. For example, a pattern may list the tension as 5 stitches x 8 rows = one inch
Many variable will effect the number of stitches you get to the inch. For example...
-the weight of the yarn (finger weight, worsted weight, chunky)
-the size of the needle (4.50 mm/UK 7/US 7)
-how tightly or loosely you knit
Using my gauge guide, ensures that my garment will be worked in the proper portion.

You: Do you work an entire sleeve, back or front and then measure?
Me: No, you work a sample swatch
You: What's a sample swatch
Me: Using the yarn and knitting needles you will use for your project, cast on twenty stitches and work in Stockinette stitch for four inches.
Measure the swatch using your gauge.
Do you have a 4 inch by 4 inch square?
If you have six or more stitches to the inch, work and measure another sample swatch using a large needle. Conversely, if you have four or fewer stitches to the inch, work and measure another sample swatch using a smaller needle. When your sample swatch measures 4 inches by 4 inches you have the correct size needle for your project.

Some projects such as scarves don't need to fit. This is why no tension information is given on the patterns for such projects.
Next post: Celebrating Mayne Island Little Theatre's anniversary.