There’s a lot of confusion around gauge, especially when it comes to the Cocoknits Emma because I always get questions about using lighter weight yarns for this project.
It is especially confusing because the three Emma versions are shown in different weight yarns, each with its own look and feel. But how does a lighter weight yarn affect the gauge.
In a word, it doesn’t.
Whether you are knitting the Cocoknits Emma using a bulky yarn or a fingering weight yarn, the gauge doesn’t change.
Whether you are using bulky yarn, worsted yarn, or fingering weight yarn, you will knit exactly the same number of stitches and the finished measurement will be the same.
What changes is the fabric.
Let’s say you are considering three different yarns:
A bulky yarn with a recommended gauge of 12 stitches per 4 inches
A worsted weight yarn with a recommended gauge of 18 stitches per 4 inches
A lace weight yarn with a recommended gauge of 32 stitches per 4 inches
Many knitters think to themselves, “I will swatch these three yarns to see if I can get a gauge of 12 stitches per 4 inches.”.
But that’s really the wrong way to think about it.
You can get gauge with any of these yarns. The question to ask yourself is, “Do I like the fabric I am getting at this gauge?”
A bulky yarn at 12 stitches per 4 inches is going to be a structured fabric. The stitches will snug up next to one another with very little space between the stitches and rows.
A worsted weight yarn at 12 stitches per 4 inches will be a little less structured with a bit of space between the stitches.
A laceweight yarn at 12 stitches per 4 inches will have very little structure – a loopy, open fabric barely holding together.*
Do you see what I mean?
Last week on the podcast i said that I was going to carry a strand of Kidsilk haze with my Viola for the Emma, and one of my lovely viewers asked if the Kidsilk Haze would change the gauge.
The Kidsilk Haze does not change the gauge of the fabric, but it will change the feel and theappearanceof the fabric, which you can see in the image above.
My whole point here is that the knitter and the needle are in control of the gauge, not the yarn. All three of the above swatches were worked on a US 11 (8mm) needle to get the 12 stitches/4" gauge.
When the knitter and the needle stay the same but the yarn changes, the gauge stays the same, and it is the fabric that changes.
This is true for Cocoknits Emma, but it is also true for anything you plan to knit at all.
If the size of the finished project is crucial, as in hats, sweaters, and socks, then the gauge of the fabric must be correct, and you use the needle that gets you that gauge on the yarn you’ve chosen. You must decide, as you swatch, whether you like the fabric you’re getting with that yarn at that gauge.
If not, change the yarn.
If you are knitting something where size doesn’t matter, and the fabric is more important, such as a scarf or a shawl, you change the needle size (which will change the gauge) to get the fabric you like. Just know that the finished measurements will be different from those stated in the pattern.
I hope this helps -- tell me in the comments what you think, and join me next week for a look at how to get the size you want and the fabric you want, at whatever gauge you want.
* This fabric is very hard to deal with, and especially challenging for learning the Cocoknits method, so I don't allow any yarn finer than heavy worsted for the class.