Knitting

Monday Musings-Pet Peeve

We all have them. In real life, in business life, in school life, so why would knitting life be any different. My biggest pet peeve? Haven’t really ranked them, but the one that is peeving me right now is yarn classification. Besides the fact there is no universal code, yes, there is now some number thing going on, but not every company adheres to it. Between American, European, and who knows what other countries, we have a plethora of ways to class yarn weights. Thankfully there are guides that try to explain and compare between measuring systems. But that’s not really what I am talking about.

I am peeved that what one company determines is a sport weight to be knit on a size 5US, another company deems a similar yarn to be a DK to be knit on a size 6. Now, really? The fact that Sirdar suggests a size 6 for their DK weight yarn escapes me. The fabric it produces, for me, is so sloppy. I probably prefer my knit fabric to be a bit more dense than others, but the difference to me is a gapping hole.

I just finished a hat with stranding that is made from Brown Sheep nature Spun Sport. They suggest a US5. I used a US4 and even that was too loose. Sure, I got a lightweight fabric, not too heavy for baby’s head. But then a gentle breeze will blow right through it. And the puckers this mismatch of weight and needle produces is yuck. I am used to stranding needing a little blocking to straighten out. For this fabric there was no way a little blocking would do the trick.

I know everyone’s gauge is different, but I am not talking about getting the gauge suggested. I am talking about the suggested gauge being a very loose gauge. For example, Noro Silk Garden is suggested 18-20 sts on a US7-8. I made a sweater with the yarn and the suggested needle size of a US9, to achieve the gauge needed. The silk content and loose gauge ended up lengthening the sleeves so much I had to rip back and refinish them. And then they grew again! I don’t even think a US7-8 is small enough for this yarn. I know it’s thick/thin, but it’s really not all that thick.

I guess my question is, how do they determine these gauges? Is there some knitter who takes the yarn and uses different needles and then says, here’s the gauge. Do they crank out fabric with a knitting machine? Is it solely based on the WPI? It can’t be the thinness of the fiber. Mohair anyone? Core fiber thin as lace weight, but the fluff demands a larger needle.

The nice thing is, I can accommodate and change up the needles and gauge and still get the sizing I want with math. But it’s so frustrating to already go down a needle size as a rule and then not even have that work. Again, I am not talking being unable to match gauge, I am saying their suggested gauge seems off to me.

Am I the only one who has this issue?

In unrelated news, Happy Birthday to Hubster!!! He’s just a young chick, I have to subtract 6 from my age to remember how old he is. Yes, I’m such a cougar! NOT.

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4 thoughts on “Monday Musings-Pet Peeve”

  1. I’m not sure how yarn companies determine what gauges to put on their labels, but at least with handspun yarns people suggest folding the yarn in half and finding the hole through which the yarn fits nicely (on a needle gauge) to determine which size needles to begin swatching with. Truthfully, I never look at the needle/gauge suggestions on yarn balls or company websites. When I’m substituting yarn for a pattern I take a look at the details of the yarn the designer used: fiber content, # of plies (if I can tell), weight, and yardage and I find something in my stash that is similar. The most important measure, in my mind, is the yardage divided by the weight. Say that the worsted weight yarn called for in a pattern is 200 yards/4 oz. That’s 50 yards/oz. But I have a worsted weight yarn in my stash that is 270 yards/4 oz. That’s closer to 68 yards/oz, which tells me that the yarn I have in stash is thinner than the pattern calls for (more yards per oz) so even if I obtain the same gauge on the same needles, the fabric will likely look and feel different (probably hole-ier and flimsier). I hope that helps!

  2. It does drive me nuts that companies are all different. You are right about some yarns growing no matter what size needle you use. I agree that there needs to be one unit of measure across the industry. It would make things a lot easier for consumers.

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