Test, Test, Test!
There’s nothing worse than knitting a whole item, only to find it’s too baggy or a size too small. So, do the preparation beforehand – is worth its weight in gold and means you’ll love the final result.
Test one… drop the rest
My mum does this all the time… when she’s bought her full quota of yarn (which you MUST do to make sure you have a matching ‘dye lot’ for your whole project), she’ll test from one of the balls. If she can’t match the tension for her pattern, she’ll send the rest back and start all over again. So keep your receipt.
Your pattern will tell you which stitch you need to use to check your tension and usually suggests that you work a 10x10cm square. Be thorough, take your time and go bigger than asked – that way you can measure the stitches in the centre of your square with a good 1-2cm border around the edge.
Stitches and rows around the edge of a square behave differently to the central fabric, so only measure away from the edges.
If you’re knitting in the round, you’ll need to knit a practice swatch in the same way for an accurate result.
If your tension swatch is too big, go down a needle size. Too small? Go up a bigger size. Sometimes you’ll need to do this several times to get the correct result, which is fine – it’s worth it in the long run. Changing needle sizes won’t affect how much yarn you’re using, providing you match that tension.
And that’s it! It might sound like a lot of work, but it’s surprisingly fun to do and, as a creative being, I’m sure you’ll find a use for all those cute and colourful little squares.