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Choosing Needle Size
A useful method to choose a starting needle size to use for swatching your yarn
by Jackie E-S
A useful guideline for choosing knitting needle size is to double the yarn you want to use, then hold that up to a knitting needle gauge. The hole that the doubled yarn just barely covers is a guideline for the needle size you may want to use to start swatching your yarn. This method is especially useful if you are using an unlabeled or handspun yarn where suggested needle size is not available.
In case you are not familiar with a needle gauge, here is a
picture of the model by Susan Bates (there are other models
available, but they all work similarly):
Caution – Don't take this knitting gauge method of as an absolute in the final decision as to what needle size you will use for your project! Following blindly may yield a fabric that is too stiff, or doesn't show the pattern stitch well, or gives you an unintended lacy effect.
Gauge and "feel" of the knitted fabric is a factor of more than just the thickness of the yarn, although yarn thickness is the a primary factor and usually the first thing you want to consider when targetting in on the optimum needle size to use for your project. That is why the knitting gauge method is a good guideline to find a starting needle size for your swatching. But remember that it is just the starting place and might need adjusting. See What is the Correct Gauge?
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