How do I alter a pattern for a different gauge?

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on Aug 14, 2010 2:17 PM

I bought a yarn that I love, 18 stitches over 4", then found a pattern that I like, 14.5 stitches over 4". How to I alter the pattern for the yarn I have?

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BridgetDanby wrote
on Aug 14, 2010 4:10 PM

Hi, Kari!

I have often altered patterns to the yarn I prefer and the way I do it is as follows - you'll need a calculator!

Your pattern states 14.5 stitches to 4" and your yarn is 18 stitches to 4".  Therefore for every 14.5 stitches in the pattern, you need to cast on 18.  So, if you are knitting a sweater, for example, and the pattern says tells you to cast on 78 stitches for the back, you need to divide 78 by 14.5 and multiply it by 18:  (78/14.5) x 18 = 96.8 sts.  Of course you must take into account whether you need an odd or even number of stitches and round up or down accordingly.  Also, if there is a pattern repeat, you must ensure you have a number of stitches that can be divided by the pattern repeat and also take into account any odd stitches (e.g. pattern repeat of 6stitches + 2.  You can then continue calculating all the way through the pattern when it comes to decreases for arms or increases.  If the pattern says "Cast off 5 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows", again divide 5 by 14.5 and multiply by 18: (5/14.5) x 18 = 6sts rounding up.  Of course, you also need to calculate for the rows as well so if your yarn says 20 rows to 4" and your pattern says 16.  So, if you the pattern tells you to work 40 rows straight in stocking stitch, divide 40 by 16 and multiply by 20: (40/16) x 20 = 50.

You do need to write everything down as you go and think in advance - and you certainly need to knit a tension square first with your chosen yarn.  I also wouldn't attempt anything with an intricate pattern as what looks lovely in, say, a fine yarn, could look terrible in a thick yarn!  But for patterns that are fairly straightforward and in a plain stitch - especially stocking stitch (stockinette), it should work ok.

I hope this has been helpful - and good luck with you project!  I'll keep a lookout to see how you are getting on!

Kind regards,

Bridget D

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Zoe wrote
on Aug 14, 2010 6:13 PM

Kari Knapstad:
bought a yarn that I love, 18 stitches over 4", then found a pattern that I like, 14.5 stitches over 4". How to I alter the pattern for the yarn I have?

 

Hi Kari,

This is why the pattern directions always tell you to make a swatch first before you CO for the pattern.  The simplest and easiest way to alter your gauge to get the pattern's gauge is to change needle sizes.  Most knitting patterns will tell you to adjust your needle size to get the recommended gauge.  Then you simply follow the pattern direction as written.

You could swatch your yarn and see what gauge you get.  (I personally never get the gauge that is stated on the yarn label). With every pattern you need to ask yourself  "What needle size does the pattern recommend to get # stitches per 4"??   And "what size needle did the yarn label state to use to get the 18 stitches per 4"??  Often the needle sizes are not the same as what are stated in the pattern and on the yarn label. 

Do a yarn swatch using the needle size recommended in the pattern.  Do you get the recommended gauge?  If you get more stitches per inch than the 14.5, then you need to go to a larger needle.  If you get less stitches than the gauge, then you need to go to a smaller needle.

Rule of thumb for knitters:  you have to swatch your yarn to see if your gauge matches the pattern's gauge and adjust the needle size accordingly.  Also remember that the gauge given on a yarn label is what a knitter may get using the recommended needle size as per the label.

I keep a journal of my gauges that I get according to what the needle size is and what the yarn weight is.  This cuts out a lot of the time a person would use to swatch each time you knit a pattern.  You can refer to what gauge you get, and if the pattern calls for more (or less) stitches, then you know which needle size to use.

Hope this helps as this is what I have been doing for my patterns, and I have made gauge every time.  Zoe Smile

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on Aug 14, 2010 7:26 PM

Thank you Bridget,

I'll give it a shot!

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on Aug 14, 2010 7:41 PM

Thank you Zoe,

I appreciate you input. I actually do know how to get gauge in stockinette with a given yarn by changing needle sizes, but found that the yarn looks best at exactly the recommended needle size and stitches per inch when I knit up a swatch. I am looking to use a Feather & Fan pattern on the sweater, so will do the math that Bridgette suggested above to make the changes. If nothing else, I'll learn something. Hopefully it won't be to buy the yarn for the pattern rather that vice versa!

~Kari

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Zoe wrote
on Aug 14, 2010 9:29 PM

Hi Kari,

Let us know how your sweater turns out.  What is the name of the pattern?  I do sincerely wish you the best of luck at getting what you want out of the sweater.  It is very frustrating to buy yarn that is great to feel and look at but find that the pattern isn't working for the yarn.  I do find difficulties with some yarn substitutes for myself -- I am very allergic to wool and some fibers.  I need to change those yarns into synthetic yarns.  They don't always make nice synthetic yarns. 

You are right by saying "If nothing else, I'll learn something"   I always try to have this attitude when I embark on a new project! 

Its all good knitting, Zoe Smile

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heididay wrote
on May 6, 2011 7:35 AM

Thank you for this explanation and solution.  When I went up a needle size to get correct gauge, I didn't like the results.  I have been searching on the Internet all morning for an easy to understand solution--should have come to Knitting Daily first.

Heidi

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phyllisris55 wrote
on Jul 2, 2012 5:19 PM

Awesome explanation!!  Thank you!

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lzyknitter wrote
on Jul 13, 2012 4:08 PM

If the pattern has a diagram you can plot the dimensions into software such as "Sweater Wizard" and use your own row and stitch gage from your swatch.  I always make the swatch in the stitch pattern I want to use especially if it has a repeat. I just finished a variation on Flame and wave which has a 7 & 5 stitch repeat, and I think 24 rows.  My gage swatch was 3 repeats wide, and two repeats long.  By measuring the whole width of the swatch and dividing by 26 (number of stitches in my swatch) you can get a very accurate (to 3 decimal places) stitch gage.  Sweater Wizard will also calculate the yardage for you!  I think the calculation are a little high, but I’d rather have leftovers than run out.  Great software!

Mary M.

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on May 30, 2013 2:33 PM

I'm a beginner knitter, so forgive what may be an incredibly stupid question, but would it be possible to just knit a sweater several sizes larger than you normally would, but in the smaller gauge yarn with the appropriately smaller-sized needles?   Then I wouldn't have to do any calculations? (and my brain wouldn't bleed a little)

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