Despite sounding incredibly basic, figuring out the number of knitting stitches per centimeter is quite infuriating and, to some, even difficult. That’s why it’s not strange at all to find yourself wondering how many knitting stitches per cm you must use for every project. It’s quite a common thought, in fact.
As far as statistics go, the most common number is two knitting stitches per centimeter on knitting projects. That’s what most knitting patterns and knitting experts would recommend.
However, there are occasions where if certain factors like your gauge change slightly, the number of stitches you’ve decided earlier will mess up the project. So, ultimately, the best practice would be to calculate the number of knitting stitches yourself so you can reliably make adjustments accordingly.
Of course, it’s not going to be an easy task, hence why you’re here. To start with, you need to understand the importance of measuring knitting stitches per cm in any kind of knitting project.
Importance of Measuring Knitting Stitches per CM
First things first, knitting stitches refer to the number of stitches and rows that you must fit into a given length. So, knitting stitches per CM means exactly as it sounds—the number of stitches per centimeter in a knitting project. If your knitting stitches per CM is three, for example, then a sleeve that is 70 centimeters long should have 210 stitches in total if you want it to be as uniform as it can be.
Most knitters would use the term gauge to refer to this metric. But it’s worth noting that “knitting gauge” actually refers to the number of knitting stitches per inch of fabric, not per centimeter.
From this explanation alone, it’s easy to imagine the significance of measuring, or at least knowing how to measure, knitting stitches per CM. Generally, there are four main benefits to this skill.
Higher Quality Outputs
It’s natural to assume that if your knitting stitches per CM are too high or too low, the output won’t turn out as well as it should. And yes, that would be correct. To be precise, the knitted fabric may look too loose or tight if the knitting gauge is too low or too high, resulting in low-quality output.
It’s common for knitting patterns to specify the number of knitting stitches per centimeter, but there’s no guarantee. You may come across patterns that don’t have this specific detail, and it can be confusing since you may use the wrong measurement and end up ruining the knitted fabric or item.
However, if you know how to measure knitting stitches by yourself, then there’s a good chance you can figure out how many knitting stitches you must use for the knitting pattern in just one glance.
Efficient Use of Materials
If you’ve ever sewn anything before, you may have realized that when the gaps between each stitch are too large, you use up fewer materials. Meanwhile, if the gaps are too small, you use more materials.
Since the knitting gauge decides the size of the gaps, then you should expect that it will also decide how much of the fabric you’ll end up using. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the knitting stitches per centimeter, the more fabric you’ll end up using for the project, and vice versa.
If you know how to measure knitting stitches, then you can figure out exactly how large the gaps should be so that you can save as much fabric while still maintaining the quality of the output.
Any knitter that’s able to measure the knitting stitches accurately would have a good enough spatial awareness to realize if their stitches are becoming tighter or looser than when they first started knitting the item. That means they can ensure that the knitting gauge of the knitted item would be the same all throughout, which contributes to higher quality and better-looking final output.
On the other hand, if you don’t know how to measure knitting stitches per centimeter, it’s quite easy, not to mention common, to accidentally change your gauge halfway through the knitting project.
Imagine you plan to knit a sleeve that is 80 centimeters long with a gauge of two knitting stitches per centimeter. You start at the bottom, then, halfway to the top, you change your gauge to three stitches without your awareness. What would happen is the bottom half would be looser than the top half.
Needless to say, nothing good will come from setting the wrong knitting gauge for your project. The problem is it can be difficult to determine the ideal gauge since there are several factors to consider.
Factors That Can Affect the Number of Stitches per CM
Although two knitting stitches per centimeter is the most common gauge knitter use, it’s not a good idea to stick to this number for all your projects. You should adjust according to several factors.
Let’s take a look at these factors.
1. Yarn Thickness
Most knitters are aware that yarn comes in a variety of thicknesses, more commonly known as weights. It can range from super fine to super bulky. There are other terms used to refer to these weights.
As you might imagine, the thickness of the yarn can affect the ideal number of stitches.
The general rule of thumb is that the thicker the yarn, the fewer stitches you’ll need per centimeter.
For example, if you’re using a bulky weight yarn, the ideal gauge in most scenarios would be 12 to 14 stitches per 10 centimeters. But if you’re using fine yarn, you need double the number of stitches.
Keep in mind, though, that those are just approximate ranges.
2. Needle Size
The needle size is one of the factors that determine the size of each stitch. Obviously, a larger needle would create larger stitches, while a smaller needle would create smaller stitches. For that reason, you must lower the number of stitches per centimeter if you’re using a large needle, and vice versa.
Tension is exactly as the name implies. It’s the amount of pressure you put into pulling the yarn as you create a stitch. It typically depends on the mood of the knitter and how tight they pull the yarn, but seasoned knitters have full control over this factor as they estimate how tight each stitch should be.
As far as the knitting gauge is concerned, the tighter each stitch is, the fewer stitches you need per centimeter. Similarly, if each stitch is loose, you’ll benefit from increasing the number of stitches.
4. Knitting Style
A beginner knitter may not know any style yet, but if you’ve been knitting for a while now, you’d know that there are a couple of styles to choose from. English Knitting and Continental Knitting are some examples. Each style typically has different tension or tightness for each of its stitches.
5. Fiber Content
Lastly, the fiber content of the yarn can affect the ideal gauge for a knitting project. If you didn’t know, just like how yarn comes in different weights, it can also come in different materials or fiber.
Examples include wool, cashmere, silk, cotton, linen, and mohair.
Each of these has different textures and drapes, both of which can affect just how tight they would be when used for knitting. Hence, it’s important to keep that in mind as well when deciding your gauge.
At this point, it’s easy to understand that a knitting gauge is important but, at the same time, difficult to determine. Thankfully, there are a couple of methods you can use, even as a beginner or amateur.
Methods for Measuring Stitches per CM
There are three main methods you can use to measure stitches per centimeter.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Gauge Swatch
The most accurate and commonly-used method is using a gauge swatch. It’s accurate because it takes into account the factors we mentioned earlier, including the tension, yarn thickness, fiber content, and needle size. But its downside is it’s a bit more difficult or tricky to use.
2. Ruler or Tape Measure
Using a ruler or tape measure is a great alternative since it’s easier, but this method is far less accurate as it only takes into account the stitch length and not other factors like tension or yarn thickness.
3. Knitting Gauge Tool
As the name implies, a knitting gauge tool is a tool specifically designed for figuring out the knitting gauge. It’s a small metal or plastic device containing a series of evenly spaced notches or holes.
Keep in mind that there might be other obscure and unconventional methods out there, so if you already have one, it’s up to you whether you want to stick with that method or not.
Tips for Achieving a Consistent Number of Stitches per CM Throughout a Knitting Project
As stated earlier, it’s quite difficult to achieve a consistent knitting gauge all throughout the project. But just like how there are methods to measure knitting stitches, there are also ways to make it easier to maximize consistency in knitting projects.
- Use the same yarn and needle for the entire project
- Focus so that you don’t accidentally change your tension due to your mood or fatigue
- Take breaks if you find yourself getting tense or tired since it may change your tension without you noticing it
- Measure the gauge regularly, not just at the beginning of the project
While these tips may not guarantee consistency, they should, at the very least, prevent a scenario where some parts of your knitting project have a lower or higher gauge than other parts.
It’s difficult to measure knitting gauge, but the ability to know how many knitting stitches per cm is ideal for your project is too valuable of a skill to pass up. Thankfully, with this guide, obtaining this skill should be more realistic. You might also be interested in our guide: Why Does My Knitting Get Wider, if you struggle to achieve consistent tension throughout your project.