Every so often, I come across an approximation that makes sense, is easy to remember, and I actually write down in my knitting notebook under the heading Cool Things That Are Easy to Remember but I Forget Anyway. I was flicking through said notebook the other day looking for something I have already forgotten about, and stumbled across the list. Because I am feeling way too lazy to photograph the center of the King Bat (aka Queen Ring) shawl that I finished a few days ago, I figured the list entries might come in handy for some of you. And make me feel less guilty about not stretching, pinning, photographing, cropping, uploading, and so on and so on.
Please remember that these are Rules of Thumb, not Inviolate Laws of Physics. If one or the other doesn't work every time, perhaps you could arrange for a different thumb or something.
- If you don't know what needle size might work best with a mystery yarn, thread the yarn through your needle gauge. The best fit is a good size to start with for regular knitting. For lace, try doubling the needle size.
- Don't want to (or can't) measure someone's foot? The length from the tip of the index finger to the base of the thumb is about equal to the length from the toe to where the foot connects to the leg (measured at the top of the foot). I discovered this one day when I put my sock over my hand. Why did I do that? I don't know.
- The measurement from the base of your thumb to the inside of your elbow is the same as the total length of your foot. Seems incredible, but it's true.
- If you stretch out your arms and measure from fingertip to fingertip, the length is the same as your height. You might find this useful when knitting shawls (Thanks, Carla!).
- The circumference of your wrist is about equal to the circumference of your foot at the arch. I have never needed to know what my arch circumference is, but I am sure there's someone out there who has been panting after this fact.
- The sleeves of an average sweater uses 1/3 of the total amount of yarn; the back takes 1/3, and the front 1/3. If you are not sure that you have enough yarn, knit the sleeves. Then you can adjust the body by, say, making it shorter, using a different yarn for the yoke, or blending in another dye lot.
- A cable takes about 10% more yarn than knitting the same stitches flat. This is an important rule of thumb if you decide to add some cables to a plain sweater--you'll need to cast on extra stitches or the fit of the sweater might be a big surprise. Actually, it would be a small surprise, but you know what I mean.
- Changing the size of your needle will change the gauge by about 1/2 stitch per inch for each needle size increment or decrement.
- One row of knitting uses about 3 times its length in yarn. This is a nice factoid for long-tail cast-on that eludes me every time I do a long-tail cast-on.
- According to the folks at Elann, if the gauge of a single strand of yarn is X stitches-per-inch, the gauge when used doubled will be X*.7.
- Also via Elann--if the project requires X ounces of yarn used single-stranded, it will require X*1.4 when used doubled.
- If you want to make a circular shawl, the general rule for increasing, is to increase four stitches every round, eight every other round, 12 every third round, or 16 every fourth round. There's some geometric flim-flam going on here. Please don't try to explain it to me.
- Eight increases/decreases every second round will give you a flat knitted circle. Six increases/decreases every round in single crochet will too.
- If you make six increases every second round, then knit x rows (where x is the number of rows with increases that you just made) then decrease six times every other row, you will get a ball.
- Two increases/decreases in the center of every second row will give you a 90 degree angle. That one’s pretty obvious, but it’s so useful.
- The last row of a project takes as long to knit as the rest of the entire sweater/sock/hat/scarf. This is a prime example of the Time Dilation effect.