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Knitting swatches: Taking needles and yarn for a test drive

by Cindy O'Malley

This week I’m knitting with some of the new colors of Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Tweed. Yesterday I introduced 3 new colors from this collection. This classic tweedy look yarn is a great choice for warm and cozy garments, accessories, and home decor. In addition, I’m using handcrafted ebony Lantern Moon Destiny circular knitting needles.

Today I’m knitting some swatches to test out the gauge of the yarn using the Lantern Moon wood needles. As I mentioned yesterday, the recommended gauge is 18 sts x 24 rows = 4” [10cm] using a US7 [4.5mm] needle. I’m using both a US7 [4.5mm] and a US6 [4.0mm] needle today to determine the gauge that I achieve for my projects.

A ball of beige wool next to circular knitting needles; Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Tweed Superwash, Lantern Moon Destiny Circular Needles

Deluxe Worsted Tweed in Putty with Lantern Moon circular needles in Ebony

Since the needles are dark in color, I’ll use Putty to knit my swatches. I prefer to knit with circular needles, even when working flat, however, I almost always use metal needles. I have wooden needles, which I do use on occasion when I need a little extra grip on slippery yarn. This will be an adjustment for me and the way I knit, so I’ll start knitting with them today but will reserve judgment until I’ve had a chance to get used to them.

For my first swatch, I’ll use the recommended needle size of US7 [4.5mm]. One of the differences I find when knitting with metal needles versus wood is that I tend to knit a little tighter with metal. That’s because I slide my yarn on the needle which could result in a loose gauge. When knitting with wooden needles, I need to relax a little or else I end up with very tight stitches. I usually start my swatches with a couple of garter stitch rows and this was enough to allow me to loosen my grip before getting to the stocking stitch section.

The key factors for me in evaluating circular needles are:

  • The points – I prefer pointed over rounded and the Lantern Moon needles have really good points.
  • The smoothness of the needle – very smooth and once I lessened my grip a bit, the yarn slid smoothly along the needle.
  • The pliability of the cord – I use a Magic Loop for all my knitting in the round so the pliability of the cord is an absolute must – good pliability.
  • The transition between the cord and the needle – this wasn’t as smooth as I’d like, but this may be largely due to me not being adjusted as yet.

As for the yarn, the Deluxe Worsted Tweed is lovely and soft to knit and I like the speckled tweed look. It has a really good stitch definition and I achieved the recommended gauge of 18 sts x 24 rows = 4” [10cm].

A 4” swatch of Deluxe Worsted Tweed in the color putty, knit with US7 [4.5mm] Lantern Moon circular knitting needles

Deluxe Worsted Tweed is soft to knit and the tweed effect highlights the stitch definition.

Since I plan to make warm and cozy accessories for the chilly days ahead, I decided to go down a needle size to measure the fabric gauge. This time, I used a US6 [4.0mm] needle to knit up my swatch.

A 4” swatch of Deluxe Worsted Tweed in the color Putty knit with US6 [4.0mm] Lantern Moon circular knitting needle.

I achieved a gauge of 20 sts x 26 rows = 4” with a US6 [4.0mm] needle.

This was a very interesting exercise for me. I would normally expect and generally achieve a gauge of 20sts x 26 rows = 4” with a US7 [4.5mm] on worsted weight yarn, but I achieved that with a US6 [4.0mm]. What I find interesting is that a gauge of 18 sts usually means an Aran weight yarn, just slightly heavier than a worsted, but I wouldn’t classify Deluxe Worsted Tweed as an Aran weight. It’s very light, even for a worsted weight. I can only attribute it to how the yarn blooms when knit, which should make for very cozy garments and accessories. I’m really looking forward to working with it.

As for the Lantern Moon needles, I preferred knitting with the US6 [4.0mm]. I found the transition between the cord and needle was much smoother, but as I mentioned above, that could just be me adjusting as I knit. I’ll be using both sizes over the next couple of days, so I’ll let you know.

As I mentioned previously, this week is focused on making warm and cozy items that can be given as gifts to family and friends, or to charitable organizations that are always looking for warm items for those in need. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as I use Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Tweed and my Lantern Moon Destiny circular needles to knit some hats that will appeal to all age groups.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: Great new colors for a soft and cozy yarn


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