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 Rule of thumb for doubling strands of yarn
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susantosca
New Pal

Australia
14 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2010 :  01:13:34 AM  Show Profile Send susantosca a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi everyone

I like making lovely warm blankets for family friends using yarns (such as 100% wool, mohair etc) but i prefer to make quick knits.

My question is this: If a single strand of yarn suggests 6mm needles, then does using 2 strands of the same yarn mean you'd use 12mm needles? That's what i did with my Jo Sharp mohair. The result was a gorgeous light weight blanket, but my girls were still cold at night. Should i have used 3 strands? or smaller needles???

I h-a-t-e swatching.
thanks
Susan

hillstreetmama
Permanent Resident

USA
3448 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2010 :  03:49:44 AM  Show Profile Send hillstreetmama a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't think you can get around the swatching. I just knit a small square of stickinette to see how the stitches look/feel, and go up or down a needle size and knit for an inch till I'm happy with the result. Obviously, GAUGE isn't important on a blanket, but how the stitches look and feel IS. When doubling yarn, I probably would go up two needle sizes and swatch that, then go from there.

You've heard the carpenter's mantra: Measure twice, cut once. Well, swatching is OUR measuring.

Jan
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Jeanine
Chatty Knitter

248 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2010 :  11:25:32 AM  Show Profile Send Jeanine a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Someone told me that if you double a yarn, you can multiply the original gauge by .72 to find the new gauge.
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4398 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2010 :  12:36:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cough... cough... sputter... don't like swatching?? Those words bring such pain to my ears!

OK, if you insist on knitting without a seatbelt, here's how you can get a sense of what needle size you should use:

Take the strands of yarn that you plan on using. Holding them together, then fold them over themselves into a loop. Take out your needle sizer and pull that loop through holes until you find the hole through which the yarn passes comfortably. It can still squeeze a little (especially if you want a denser fabric), but you don't want it to be extremely tight, nor do you want it to ramble around and not touch the edges of the needle sizer. That should give you the beginnings of an idea what size needle you should use for your swatches.

Ahem.

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
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anderknit
Permanent Resident

USA
2586 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2010 :  6:19:59 PM  Show Profile Send anderknit a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Jeanine - That rule of thumb (I round and use .7) always has worked for me. So if I have fingering weight yarn (gauge = 28 st/4"), doubled I'd expect to get 28 x .7 or about 20 st/4". As far as needle size goes, I'd start with the typical size for that weight yarn (in this case, worsted), and then, sigh, swatch.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' "
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susantosca
New Pal

Australia
14 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  02:17:36 AM  Show Profile Send susantosca a Private Message  Reply with Quote
thanks everyone for your replies. I never heard about multiplying by .7 or so. I'll try that.
I appreciate everyone's time ti responding.
susan
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stherio
New Pal

USA
48 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  04:09:53 AM  Show Profile  Visit stherio's Homepage Send stherio a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The only thing I don't swatch is scarves. But I live in fear in running out of yarn because I didn't swatch, or worse, spending months knitting a sweater only to have the sleeves be too tight! Swatching does seem like a waste of time, and I hate when I have to do it 2 or 3 times, but it's better than frogging a new sweater!

Suzy
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gambagirl
New Pal

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  05:32:25 AM  Show Profile Send gambagirl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the distant past, I didn't like to swatch either, and I took the path of least resistance on blocking also. But now they are akin to religious rituals. You can learn so much from your swatch - whether you like the drape of the fabric, how it looks once it's blocked (yes, I block my swatches), AND whether you're getting the right gauge. As someone else pointed out, it's better to redo a swatch than to have to frog an entire sweater.

I've also used the swatch for experimenting with edge treatments and alternate seaming techniques. Very useful, as it prevents wear and tear on your garment as you experiment. Not to mention being a smaller forum for your experiments.

Personally, I got to love appreciate swatching and blocking when I realized it was the attention to detail that pushed the quality of my knitting over the edge from good to great. Not to put too fine a point on it.

YMMV, of course, but that's my two cents.
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Thredbende@aol.com
New Pal

5 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  06:00:24 AM  Show Profile Send Thredbende@aol.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I start choosing a needle by taking the yarn (s) and holding them parallel to a proposed needle and behind it to find a needle as thick as the yarns. It always works except when it doesn't (sigh). Naturally, you sometimes want to knit some laces with sock yarn weight on needles the size of my niece's wrist to get big open spaces, and some worsted yarns with tiny needles to get stiff fabric for hunting vests, but it is a good starting point.
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savvy_C
New Pal

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  06:11:37 AM  Show Profile Send savvy_C a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Hi all
A knitting friend of mine decided that frogging was 'tinking' aka knitting 'in reverse'. As for me, moving ahead, forward, up, onward is better than re-work or stuck.
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bevkapp@gmail.com
New Pal

4 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  06:58:04 AM  Show Profile  Send bevkapp@gmail.com a Yahoo! Message Send bevkapp@gmail.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would strongly suggest that you make a swatch. I knitted for years without making a swatch and ruined a lot of beautiful yarn because the finished project was either too large or too small It really doesn't take that much time. Just cast on the number of stitches at equal 4 inches and knit until the swatch is 4 inches square. If you do this, you can be sure you're not wasting valuable time knitting something that will not be right when you've finished. Good luck!
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elationrelation
New Pal

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  08:08:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit elationrelation's Homepage Send elationrelation a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The old rule of thumb is to begin with a knitting needle that is the thickness of the yarn (but back then, garments were preferred in a tighter gauge.) Begin there, and move up one ndl. size for a firmer fabric, and two sizes for a more drapey fabric.

With two strands, twist them together a couple of times first, to be more accurate. When working with a bulkier yarn/s, and large knitting needles (in the 'teen sizes), often moving up one size is enough.

Stitch pattern can affect choices. Remember to think of the end result: whether you want a firmer fabric for a sweater or if the design requires drape or a soft hand. The same with an afghan/blanket, some don't like stretchy things that toes get stuck in.

Ultimately one realizes that a swatch will save time and money in desired end results. Many people are knitting things now that don't require fit, as they don't want the extra work of checking gauge or fitting garments but ultimately, it is unavoidable.

A stitch in time, saves nine.

Best,
Susan Reishus
www.SusanReishusDesigns.com
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Fairfield Beach
New Pal

16 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  08:51:52 AM  Show Profile Send Fairfield Beach a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just learned that my mother-in-law never swatches! Now I know why she has thrown out and declared "terrible" all those lovely patterns that she has knitted that didn't fit!!! Why would anyone go to the expense and the time for pot luck! when the short time it takes to make a swatch would guarantee the desired size? I've had some talks with myself and realize I knit because I enjoy the process of knitting, not having the finished product in hand - as quickly as possible. The stores are full of knit stuff if you have to have a certain soemthing right now. The knitting is aobut the doing, not having the item. Yes there are alot of lovely feeling yarns that I can't wait to knit, but I usually have a couple of projects going at once: a mindless thing for socializing, something more complex for TV watching, something small for taking, etc. etc. So how much is swatching going to slow me down? I'll hardly notice. And if I find that a certain yarn looks so much better on a larger needle than the smaller ones I'd planned to use I've saved a big disappointment. Ditto for size and fit.

So I suggest you have an intimate conversation with yourself about why you knit; what you like aobut it. And if it's because you just enjoy knitting, then slow down, take a breath, and really enjoy it whether you are swatching, just starting a project, or nearing the completion.
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TricotAnne
New Pal

USA
44 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  09:54:32 AM  Show Profile Send TricotAnne a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This might be a good place to ask this question although it is a tad off topic. We all know in our hearts that swatching is the way to go, but when the yardage is tight for the project, can you frog your swatch after it has been blocked or washed and use the yarn to finish the project? Will there be a visible difference in the knitting where you used the swatch yarn?
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roselady35
New Pal

23 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  10:10:43 AM  Show Profile Send roselady35 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you want warmth in your blanket, then you need dense! Knit with the smallest needles you are comfortable with. You can swatch or not swatch, but if you start with needles that give you looseygoosey fabric, change to smaller. A blanket is a big project, so just be sure you are comfy with the needles you choose...too small may equal hand pain, but too big may not be dense enough for the warmth you are seeking. You should be able to determine this pretty quickly without any formulae.
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Black Sheep
New Pal

USA
8 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  10:21:17 AM  Show Profile  Visit Black Sheep's Homepage Send Black Sheep a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Don't swatch?
Please donate unwanted knitted items to Black Sheep Northville's knitting rescue(blacksheepnorthville.com).
Kindly,
Linda Sparkman of Black Sheep Northville

linda lee sparkman
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Fairfield Beach
New Pal

16 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  12:06:59 PM  Show Profile Send Fairfield Beach a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One would think that swatching is obviously the smart thing to do, that we all know it in our hearts. BUT you'd be shocked to know that some knitters sincerely think it's not that necessary - like my mother-in-law! Good point, TricotAnne, aobut swatching when the yardage is tight. In that case I don't block my swatch (or cut it off) so I can frog it and use the yarn. Since it wasn't blocked there is no visible difference in the swatch yarn. And I"ve never had a gauge probem dong that.
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kare
New Pal

18 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2010 :  12:15:28 PM  Show Profile Send kare a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've learned so much here about swatching and how important it is. Thanks everyone! So far, I haven't had to be concerned about swatching - since I've only done blankets and scarves etc. but in the future, I'll take the few minutes to swatch, so that it will save me from the heartache and frustration of having to frog later.
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katydid1235
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 10/22/2010 :  2:08:58 PM  Show Profile Send katydid1235 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I learned a quick and dirty way in which to figure gauge for a double strand of yarn: take the original yarn gauge, multiply by 2, then divide by 3. This will yield a fairly close gauge. Example: orginal or recommended gauge is 4.5; multiply by 2 equals 9; divide by 3 = 3sts/inch. I received this tip from an excellent knitter and it's always worked for me. To be safe however, you should swatch...
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neraksenrab
Chatty Knitter

USA
118 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2010 :  04:14:48 AM  Show Profile Send neraksenrab a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Katydid I use the same method and it also works for yarns of different gauges. Just add the stitches per inch together and then divide by 3. For example yarn A = 4 stitches per inch and yarn B = 5 stitches per inch and you want to knit with both yarns held together. 4 plus 5 = 9. Then divide this by 3 and you get 3 stitches per inch. Karen
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Janettoo
Warming Up

55 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2010 :  6:25:43 PM  Show Profile Send Janettoo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't swatch -- I PLAY with the yarn. I try out the stitch pattern on likely needles, and then go up or down a size to see if I like that more. Lots of times now I'm not following a pattern but writing my own. In these cases I go through my library of stitch pattern books and try lots of different ones for how pleasant or irritating a given stitch pattern is to work as well as how it looks and functions. I may have a "practice piece" a few inches wide and over a foot long! I may try different yarns in that one swatch.

What's really nice is that it doesn't matter if I mess up the pattern or decide after a few rows that I hate doing it or that it won't be what I want. I don't want mistakes in my "real" knitting -- the project, so I make them on my playing around piece.

Sometimes I'll only buy one ball (or skein) to play with before I commit to buying enough for a whole project. That has saved me from being stuck with a lot of yarn that seemed like a good idea but wasn't.

And yes, if it is going to be used for a project I will block it if it is lace, or soak it and then lay it out if not. I measure for gauge before AND after. If it will measure differently on the needles than when all finished, I want to know ahead of time.

It's all in how you think about it.

Janet
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