How to measure the knitting tension and how to calculate a pattern

How to measure the knitting tension and how to calculate a pattern

This description can be used for both knitting and crocheting.

This is how we calculate a pattern from the knitting tension:

Always check the size chart to find the size you need.
See here for a lesson on how to read our size charts.

The pattern is calculated so that the measurements given in the chart will be the measurements of the finished garment.
For this calculation we need the knitting tension, and then the process is as follows:

If 10 cm in width = 20 stitches in width,
then 1 cm in width is (20/10) = 2 stitches.
If the width of the body is 48 cm, then we need
48 cm x 2 stitches = 96 stitches.

If you get 22 stitches on 10 cm instead of 20 stitches, your garment will be 5 cm narrower than the measurements in the diagram.

All stitch counts in the pattern are calculated from the given knitting tension and this affects everything: e.g. the shaping of the neck – the increases on sleeves – the cast-on edge - raglan etc.

So you need to change the size of the needle :)

Knitting tension and gauge swatch:

Gauge swatch:
To make sure the measurements on your garment = the measurements in the pattern, you should always start by working a swatch – to arrive at the correct knitting tension.

Cast on more stitches than the knitting tension states for 10 cm in width and work slightly more than 10 cm in height, starting with the suggested needle size.

If the knitting tension is:
20 stitches in width and 27 rows in height with stocking stitch = 10 x 10 cm.
Lay a tape measure on the piece and count the stitches:
20 stitches = 10 cm in width and 27 rows in height = 10 cm.

Result / consequence:
More than 20 stitches – change to a larger needle size
Less than 20 stitches – change to a smaller needle size.

When you have found the correct needle size, you are ready to start.
Remember to check the knitting tension as you go; it can vary as you work through the garment.

Right or wrong needle size:

Needle size:
There is no correct needle size; everyone’s knitting is different.

The given needle size is only a guide.

Find the needle size to get the correct knitting tension – if you need to use needle size 6 mm, when the pattern suggests needle size 4 mm, then do so.

Our own design team uses different needles sizes when knitting with the same yarn. This is very common.

Types of needles:
This is very individual.

There are needles made of wood, bamboo, metal, plastic, as well as other materials.
One finds their favourite, and it’s normal to use a different knitting tension when using different types of needles (circular, double pointed, etc.).

So if it doesn’t work when you try a knitting tension with – for instance - metal needles, try another material, like birch, and see if it works better for you.

Comments (147)

Dea wrote:

Risultati / conseguenze: Più di 20 maglie - passare a una misura più grande di ferri Meno di 20 maglie – passare a una misura più grande di ferri più piccola. Nella terza frase c'è un errore....bisogna togliere "più grande".

11.09.2022 - 21:38:

DROPS Design answered:

Buonasera Dea, grazie per la segnalazione: abbiamo corretto il testo. Buon lavoro!

14.09.2022 - 19:24:

Carolyn Wood wrote:

How can a i make a bulky knit sweater size small with a sleeve at least 2 inches too big in width and arm hole

10.09.2022 - 01:42:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Mrs Wood, you will find our "chunky knits" here, one of them might inspire you. Happy knitting!

12.09.2022 - 12:28:

Nina Schie wrote:

Det er veldig vanskelig å måle strikkefasthet når det er 2 rett og 2 vrang. Hvordan gjør man det?

17.08.2022 - 20:12:

DROPS Design answered:

Hei Nina. I en oppskriften vil det være oppgitt en strikkefasthete, Der vil det være opplyst om den skal måles i f.eks glattstrikk, vrangbord eller strukturstrikk. Om strikkefastheten skal være i strikket i vrangbord (f.eks 2 rett/2 vrang), vil arbeidet trekke seg sammen og du måler det da liggende flatt (når det er trukket sammen). mvh DROPS Design

22.08.2022 - 08:08:

Nto wrote:

I am planning to make a sweater with a plain back and a big braid in the front, which will make the front sizeably smaller than the back when using the same number of stitches, , do I have to increase the number of stitches for the front so front and back are the the same width?

15.08.2022 - 18:43:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Nto, yes you will need more stitches for the back piece worked in stocking stitch without cable than for the front piece for your cable. You can just swatch both patterns (plain + the desired cable) to recalculate the number of sts you will require on both pieces for the desired width. Your yarn store should be able to help you if you need further individual assistance. Happy knitting!

16.08.2022 - 08:50:

Pia Liukku wrote:

Hei. Minulla on ongelmanatiukka käsiala. Joudun luomaan vähintään puolet enemmän silmukoita työhön kuin ohjeessa neuvotaan. Löysempi käsiala tulee rumaa. Miten tämä vaikuttaa työn edetessä, onnistuuko lainkaan?

12.08.2022 - 10:16:

Pat wrote:

I would like to knit the bolero shrug and in the the pattern instructions it just says see M.I. I'm not sure what that means and I can't tell from the chart. Should I yarn over between the stitches on the right side and then what do I do on the wrong side of the shrug? Directions are not very clear. Thank you.

06.08.2022 - 00:14:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Pat, this is a lesson applied to many patterns. Which bolero shrug are you trying to work? Could you tell us the pattern number so that we may help you more?

07.08.2022 - 23:43:

Patricia Alejandra wrote:

Gracias por enseñarnos excelente aprendo mucho de las explicaciones y detalles de las medidas y como tomarlas . Mil gracias

15.07.2022 - 04:05:

Teresa wrote:

Hi, I have a big head! How would you recommend making this larger? Use larger needles or cast on more stitches? If the latter, how would I keep the shape correct? Thanks.

13.07.2022 - 14:33:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Teresa, it would be best to know which pattern you are working so that our answer may be applied to your garment in particular. Sometimes the answer may be to work a larger size, depending on the garment you are working. If you try to make a pattern bigger by modifying the gauge you will later need to make a rule of three to calculate the amount of stitches needed for each part of the pattern. Happy knitting!

15.07.2022 - 12:34:

Leonor wrote:

Hello! I always do the gauge and sometimes my knitting is bigger than the pattern, I do not why because I check de correct measure of my gauge. In the beginning I am ok but when I am going forward my work is very big. Can you help me? Thanks!

10.07.2022 - 04:57:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Leonor, if your swatch is correct in height and in width but your piece is getting larger, make sure that you kept the same tension when working the garment, if you loose your tension when you have more stitches, it might be wise to use smaller needles. Bring your work to your store, or send them a picture per mail, it might be easier for them to help you. Happy knitting!

11.07.2022 - 09:21:

Wendy wrote:

Ik begrijp het begin niet van de pas. 16 herhalingen van 7 steken. Tot je aan de 320 steken komt.\r\nWat word er precies bedoelt

09.07.2022 - 23:27:

Katarina wrote:

Hello, When your pattern says to measure "x" cm from cast-on to (for example) make an increase or sleeve bind off, should I measure the knitted fabric stretched (as will be blocked) or not stretched (as coming out on the needles)? I am currently knitting your "Winter bird" cardigan. Thank you.

03.07.2022 - 21:35:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Katarina, you should measure piece without strechting, but should you have a big difference before/after blocking, then you might have to measure after blocking if you think it's better. Happy knitting!

04.07.2022 - 09:09:

Mary Walker wrote:

The instructions read: KNITTING TENSION: 13 stitches in width and 15 rows in height with stocking stitch and 1 strand of each quality = 10 x 10 cm. My question is, am I to put together the thicker and thinner thread types and knit the swatch with both strands of wool at the same time? Thanks

30.06.2022 - 09:11:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Mrs Walker, the piece is worked with 2 strands of yarns held together just as there was just one, so take 1 strand each yarn/ball/quality and work them together. Happy knitting!

30.06.2022 - 09:34:

Ria Van Zundert wrote:

Moet ik de steken verhouding uitgerekt meten of gewoon zoals jij op tafel ligt?

14.06.2022 - 09:45:

Anabela wrote:

Hola, que hacer cuando la cantidad de puntos es correcta pero en los 10cm de lato me da más hileras? Gracias

06.06.2022 - 04:47:

DROPS Design answered:

Hola Anabela, la tensión del tejido en vertical no es tan relevante como en horizontal. Por eso casi todas las explicaciones en los patrones están en cm y no en número de filas. De todos modos, deberías trabajar menos filas cuando se indique el número de filas a trabajar (contando que el número de filas indicado es cuando tienes la tensión de 10 cm).

06.06.2022 - 13:22:

Thomas Baumeister wrote:

Beziehen sich die Angaben der Maschenprobe auf die gewaschene und gespannte Maschenprobe, oder darauf, wie sie gerade von der Nadel kommt? In manchen Anleitungen wird verlangt, den Probelappen vor dem Messen zu waschen und zu spannen.

30.05.2022 - 21:44:

Fabienne wrote:

Est-ce qu’il faut tricoter un échantillon jersey en aller/retour ou en circulaire ? Est-ce précisé au besoin du patron? Merci

19.05.2022 - 16:31:

DROPS Design answered:

Bonjour Fabienne, tout dépend de votre façon de tricoter, si votre tension est la même que vous tricotiez en rond ou en rangs, alors un échantillon "plat" suffira, mais si vous avez une tension différente quand vous tricotez en rond par exemple, il vous faudra alors tricoter un échantillon en rond (et à plat si besoin). Bon tricot!

19.05.2022 - 16:43:

Rene Gould wrote:

Here is pattern

13.05.2022 - 16:54:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Rene, we don't understand which pattern you are working on. Could you specify which pattern number of our DROPS catalog you are working on (for example, 220-1), so that we may check it and answer you? Happy knitting!

15.05.2022 - 22:14:

Rene Gould wrote:

Hi I'm doing a pattern for sweater An it says 3m3 I don't no if it's an increase or decrease but I've never heard of 3m3 it's like knit 3 then make 3 something like that I'm baffled thank you for getting back to me usually you see m3 but never seen 3m3

13.05.2022 - 14:31:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Mrs Gould, would it be possible to ask your question under the pattern you are working on? It would be then easier for us to check with you and answer you. thanks for your comprehension. Happy knitting!

13.05.2022 - 16:32:

Rene Gould wrote:

How do you do a 3m3 please

12.05.2022 - 21:30:

DROPS Design answered:

Dear Mrs Gould, sorry, I don't understand whata you mean here, could you give us more details? Thanks for your comprehension.

13.05.2022 - 08:50:

Jaklyne wrote:

Hello j'ai vu pour l'échantillon plus haut mon modèle j'ai fait échantillon avec aig 4 me dit pour 10 cm =24 m et 30 rgs moi cela me donne 144m modèle que je dois faire échantillon donne aig 4 20m 28 rgs mon modèle doit faire 59 cm de large en bas ils disent 118 m et moi je dois faire 144m de large pour le dos + 144m devant ? est ce bon

06.05.2022 - 19:10:

DROPS Design answered:

Bonjour Jaklyne, les modèles sont calculés sur la base de la tension indiquée; si votre tension est différente, vous devrez soit adapter la taille des aiguilles soit recalculer le modèle en fonction de votre tension. Bon tricot!

09.05.2022 - 09:12:

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