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KNITTING TENSIONS/GAUGE

We have assembled a list of all tensions (or gauge) which are known to us. If you find one which is not on this list, please let us know. All tensions listed below are in stocking stitch unless otherwise stated.

The Craft Yarn Council of America symbols for yarn weights can be seen at this link.

We recommend that you knit a tension swatch before you start on any new yarn. This may save you a lot of time later. A swatch should be at least six inches square, and blocked before you measure it.

We have also included a table of wraps. This is a technique for determining the thickness of the yarn, and therefore the gauge or tension the yarn should knit to.

2-Ply

Either 32 stitches and 40 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 3 1/4 mm (US 3) needle, or 34 stitches and 42 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 3 1/4 mm (US 3) needle, depending upon the manufacturer. Check the ball band and pattern.

3-Ply

32 stitches and 40 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 3 1/4 mm (US 3) needle.

4-Ply Fingering

28 stitches and 36 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 3 1/4 mm (US 3)needle. In the US the term 4-Ply is used for Knitting Worsted. Check your pattern carefully to determine which yarn you need.

5-Ply

Used in Australia and New Zealand. 26 stitches to 10 cm (4 inches) on a 3.75 mm (US 5) needle. See also Quickerknit

8-Ply

Used in Australia and New Zealand for Double Knitting or DK.

10-Ply

Used in Australia and New Zealand for Worsted Weight Yarn.

12-Ply

Used in Australia and New Zealand. 17 to 18 stitches to 10 cm (4 inches) on a 5 to 5.5 mm (US 8 to 9) needle. See Aran.

Aran

18 stitches and 24 rows to 10 cm (4 inches) on a 5 mm (US 8) needle. Some knitters use Knitting Worsted instead, but check your tension carefully first!

Baby

Usually used to refer to 3-Ply but check the tension on the pattern first.

Bulky

14 stitches and 19 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 6 mm (US 10) needle.

Chunky

15 stitches and 20 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 6 mm (US 10) needle. In the UK what is referred to as a chunky is what North Americans call a Bulky. Again check your pattern and tension carefully.

Double Knitting (DK)

22 stitches and 30 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 4 mm (US 6) needle.

Jumper Weight

Usually a Four Ply Fingering Weight.

Knitting Worsted

20 stitches and 26 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 4 1/2 mm (US 7) needle.

Mohair

Mohair generally knits up as a Chunky but some mohairs knit slightly different, so check your pattern and tension first!

Quickerknit

26 stitches to 10 cm (4 inches) on a 3.75 mm (US 5) needle. Popular yarn in the UK, mainly for baby and toddler outfits. Not generally available in North America.

Sports weight Yarn

24 stitches and 34 rows to 10 cm. (4 inches) on a 3 3/4 mm (US 5) needle. Some yarns such as Astra knit up as Sports weight or a Double Knit. It should be possible to interchange these two weights, but check your tension first!

To Determine the thickness of a yarn

If you have some yarn without its band, and need to know the tension or gauge of the yarn, the wrapping method is an indication of the thickness of the yarn. Wrap the yarn around a large needle or a ruler. Make sure the yarn lays flat. Push the yarn together so there are no gaps between wraps. Smooth it out so it is not loose, but it must not be pulled tight either. Measure the number of wraps in one inch or 2.5 cm. Measure the wraps at the centre of your sample, not at the ends. In the example shown, measure the number of wraps between 16 and 17 inches on the tape. Using the table below, determine the approximate gauge of the yarn. Always knit a tension swatch to confirm your measurements. Do not use this method for loose or fluffy yarns such as mohair. Mohair yarn has a very fine core, and a loose fluffy body, so will give incorrect results using the wrap method.
Yarn Type Lopi/Bulky Chunky Aran Knitting Worsted Double Knitting Sport 4-Ply Fingering 3-Ply Baby
Wraps per Inch 5 to 6 7 8 9 11 12 14 16 to 18