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Knitting needles for the new TRUVA yarn: How to pick the right size

by Cynthia MacDougall

In this series of posts, we’re examining the qualities of Truva by Universal Yarn. The first post of the series is about the unique blend that makes up this incredibly soft yarn – 50% cotton and 50% cashmere.

Three balls of yarn in heathery tones are stacked in a pyramid. On top is Aegean, predominantly seafoam green with light blue and white twisted in. On the bottom (left) is Medallion, mostly gold with a medium gray and off-white, and Sandcastle (right), a twisty blend of beige with off-white and white added for texture; Truva by Universal Yarn

I’m quite captivated by the richness and depth in each of Truva’s colors. Here is Aegean (top), Medallion (left), and Sandcastle (right).

Yarn labelling has come a long way since I started to knit over 40 years ago. Back then, there were no symbols for care, they were only written in text. The weight of the yarn (in grams and/or ounces) was always on the label, but yardage? Not so much. There was usually a recommended tension with the size of needles needed to get that gauge. There’ve been some vast improvements since then!

A new trend with some yarns is they give a range of needle sizes and a range of stitches and rows to 4” [10cm]. I’m finding, though, that some new yarns I’ve tried tend to work up too loosely when I use the recommended needles.

Truva is labeled as a light yarn, which equates to me a worsted weight. In my wonderful knitting world, a worsted weight yarn has a gauge of 20 sts and 24 rows to 4” [10cm] when I use size 7 [4.5mm] needles.

The information provided on the Truva label is 19-21 sts and 24-26 rows to 4” [10cm] on needles size 6-8 [4-5mm]. This is consistent with a worsted weight yarn. When I use my ‘knitterly’ instincts, though, I consistently come up with a gauge of 23 to 24 sts to 4” [10cm], except for one sample, which I blocked quite heavily (there’ll be more about that in my second next post).

Whether we pick up a ball of old yarn, or grab a ball of leftovers from an old project, I learned a neat trick years ago to guide me to the right needles for sampling. All I need is a length of the yarn and a needle gauge (and trust me, I have a dozen needle gauges!).

Ordinarily, I only use one loop of yarn, but for the purpose of illustration, I put a length of Truva through several holes.

Two-needle gauges are laid out on a white background. The top gauge shows the imperial scale with US needle sizes. A loop of blue (called Stormcloud) is looped through the 8, 7, 6, and 5 holes. The lower gauge shows the metric scale with a pink yarn (Crocus) looped through the 5, 4.5, 4, and 3.75mm holes; Truva by Universal Yarn

The yarn looks very loose in the holes on the right (size 8 [5mm]). I prefer the second from the right.

Once I’ve looped the yarn through, I examine the ‘V’ formed in the hole of the gauge. I look for one that’s not too tight, and not too loose – I want the ‘Goldilocks’ one: the one that looks juuuust right! To me, the ‘V’ through the loop of the size 8 [5mm] holes is too loose, and, while I might get a worsted weight gauge with size 7 [4.5mm] needles, I feel as though that’s a bit loose as well. My instinct when I picked up Truva was that it’s a double knitting weight, so I’m leaning more toward the 6 [4mm] needles. The ‘V’ in the size 5 [3.75mm] holes is just a little crowded.

To prove my theory, I made a ‘vanilla’ sample in good old stockinette stitch. I usually use the garter stitch or seed stitch on my sample borders, but for this one, I chose ribbing to test my theory about building elasticity into a yarn with little body. I ran the ribbing up the sides as well.

A sample made with yarn in a mixture of white and sand tones twisted together. The bottom, top and side edges are all made with ribbing, and the center is made with the stockinette stitch; Truva by Universal Yarn

It’s always good to make a sample when you’re trying a yarn you never used before. This ‘vanilla’ sample of Truva proves to me that this yarn is soft and drapey.

As I suspected, with size 6 [4mm] needles, I got a tension of 23 sts to 4” [10cm] which is a closer fit to what I call tension for a double knitting weight yarn. In my knitting opinion, Truva is well suited to this gauge as the finished fabric is soft and has good integrity. If I were knitting a sweater, I’d want the fabric to look like this, but I’d go to larger needles if looking for a garment with more drape such as a shawl or tunic.

Stay with this series and you’ll see what I mean as the next chapters in this series offer a knit-purl, a lace, and a cable pattern from one of my favorite stitch dictionaries, all knit with Truva by Universal Yarn.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: Knitting with the NEW TRUVA Universal Yarn is TRULY luxurious

Go to part 3: Knitting a knit-purl design with Truva (start with a sample)


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