The rumour is, stitches knitted on metal tips tend to be a different size to those knitted on wood …
I thought I’d test it out and see what happened when I knitted exactly the same swatch with the same yarn, on needles made of different materials.
The results were interesting!
If you’re struggling to get gauge, or if you’re bang-on with your stitch gauge but a smidge out with your row gauge – this post might be for you :)
With US 6/4 mm needles, woollen-spun, plump DK/8ply yarn (from Gorgeous Maniototo Wool) and a long-tail cast-on, I cast on 33 sts.
Then, I knitted and purled (stockinette stitch), until my swatch was more-or-less square.
I bound off loosely with a regular bind-off.
So far so good.
I made 3 swatches. One with metal tips, one with wood, and the third with plastic needles.
I blocked my swatches (soaked them and let them dry naturally) then measured a 4” x 4” square at roughly the top centre of each swatch.
WHAT DID I DISCOVER?
Metal: 19 stitches x 31 rows
I usually knit with metal tips, so I treated this as my “regular” gauge.
Wood: 18.5 stitches x 30 rows
Hmm … my stitches were just a little bit fatter and a little big longer – bigger overall.
It doesn’t sound like much of a change until you consider that when knitted over 400 sts my wooden tips, will create a circumference approx. 2.25”/5.5 cm bigger than my metal tips in this yarn.
Plastic: 19 stitches x 30 rows
My stitches stayed much the same in width, but they grew lengthwise.
So for every 100 rows I knit on plastic in this yarn, my piece will be approx. 1.5”/4 cm longer than the same number of rows knitted with my wooden tips.
Whilst the differences might not be earth-shattering, they do show that you can fiddle with your gauge if you change the material your knitting needles are made from.
Remember that the results of my experiment only really apply to my knitting, with my yarn. Your results might be slightly different.
Perhaps your stitches knitted on metal tips will be longer than the ones you make with wood?
Or maybe you’ll create skinnier stitches with plastic tips?
It’s worth experimenting to find out.
At the very least, the next time you’ve got a gauge hiccup, think about swapping needles.
And, by needles – I mean, needle tips … from metal to plastic or wood to metal … that kind of swap.
But also, to avoid nasty surprises, swatch with exactly the same needles you plan to knit your garment with!