However, here's something I noticed when I went to find a matching set of dpn's (double pointed needles) to work the sleeves: the size isn't exactly 3.5mm! Or rather, it wasn't using the gauge I was using at the time. I had grabbed my needle gauge from Nancy's KnitKnacks which tends to be my go-to gauge as it is fits very nicely inside the needle holder I have.
However, when I measured the needle using that gauge, it wouldn't fit into the 3.5mm space! If it hadn't had the "US 4 – 3.5mm" marking on the side of the needle, I might have thought that it was a 3.75mm. So I dived into my needle box where I have a slight embarrassment of needle gauges. I hadn't quite realised how many I had collected over the years!
However, the needle only just squeezed into a KnitPicks gauge and would not fit into the 3.5mm hole in the Nancy's KnitKnacks sizer or my Lion Brand ruler. All three of those are US-based gauges and I expect they are milled in imperial measures. Usually, this wouldn't make the slightest difference, but in this particular case it did.
My Knitters Pride needles did fit into the 3.6mm measure, as you'd expect, but with only a small amount of extra ease as compared with the Japanese 3.6mm dpn's I have.
I tried the various needles out with my knitting and my gauge swatch was noticeably tighter if I used the KnitPicks needles when compared with the original Knitters Pride ones. I then tried the Japanese dpn's and they were much closer, especially if I just tightened my knitting slightly.
If you're a long-time follower of this blog, you'll know that I'm always advocating checking your tension with a gauge swatch. For example, in my BYOB Market Bag knit-along series, you'll find me chatting about swatches here, here and here. Of course, we knitters know that there are many factors that will alter your gauge: the yarn used, the tension the yarn is held at, even how the ball is wound and whether the yarn was washed before or after knitting. But who would have guessed that there would be such a difference between apparently identical sizes of needles...
So if you are struggling to get the gauge for your current piece of knitting, it might not be you – it might be your needles! And of course this is a wonderful justification for acquiring a good collection of needles, gauges and other equipment. For me, I am now patiently waiting for a set of Knitters Pride dpn's so my gauge will be exactly the same on the sleeves as on the rest of the cardi. I ordered them today and they should be here next week.
Oh and please no-one tell my husband... he thinks I have enough needles already!
Until next time – Happy Knitting!
Last Blogpost: My WIP – Working in pink
Next Up: Straightening crinkly yarn
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knitting needle, needle size, needle gauge, metric, imperial, swatching, tension,