Gauge Question re Worsted Yarns

I'm fighting with my yarn.

It wants to be on a larger needle, but in order to get gauge for the Bianca's Jacket, I'm subjecting it to a size 7 needle. Every row feels like a huge effort. No pleasure at all, especially as it's plain old stockinette stitch for miles.

The yarn is a worsted weight. The suggested gauge: 16 and a half stitches to 4 inches. And that's what I get on a size 7 bamboo circular. However, knitting with the size 8 felt all together better: easier, smoother, more of a flow.

So here's my question:
is it better to stick to gauge, or better to let the yarn feel right (and then try to ballpark the size that you think that the sweater will end up as)?

And because I still remember the paper that I wrote for a class toward my master's degree, in which my intro paragraph noted that I would address three issues, and then I addressed four, here's another question:
I looked at WrapStyle for help and noticed a huge variation in the size needles used for worsted weight yarns (anywhere from 6 to 9's), though, in each case, the suggested gauge was 16 stitches. How come?

But the glass is half full. Homemade challah french toast is ready to eat! (And I cooked it this time.)


Becky said…
I don't know whether it's better to stick to gauge or go with what feels right. I guess it depends on how comfortable you are with winging it?

If you go with the gauge that feels right, it's possible that you could knit using the directions for a smaller size rather than having to estimate stuff. If you have a copy of "The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns" there's an explanation in there. Otherwise:

Your gauge is supposed to be 16.5 sts/4 inches. Say you swatch with the size 8 needles and your gauge ends up being 15 sts/4 inches.

Say you wanted to make a 40" sweater. Your new gauge of 15/4 works out to 3.75 stitches per one inch. 40 inches times 3.75 stitches per inch is 150 stitches.

Now, you start plugging in numbers. 16.5/4 works out to the truly awkward number of 4.125 stitches per one inch. 40" times 4.125 is 165 stitches. That's not even sort of the same. But, maybe there's a 38" size offered. 38" times the suggested gauge of 4.125st/in is 156 stitches. Closer. If there were a 36" size, 36" times 4.125 is 148.5 stitches. Bingo.

In other words, try doing that and find the size with the most-correct instructions, and you might make your life easier. (Or not. Math is very much my thing. Spontaneity, not so much.)


As for the disparity in the recommended needle sizes... I've never seen the book, but were the patterns maybe written by different people? Or do they use different yarns? Either one of those could affect which needles the pattern designers ended up using in order to get the right gauge. Even different needle materials could do it. I know that on dpns, for example, my gauge is wildly different when I use bamboo needles as opposed to metal ones.