I did something truly incredible for my latest knitting project. I actually made full tension squares!
For those of you who don’t know, at the start of any knitting project, you should knit a 10x10cm swatch, using the recommended needle size and following the number of stitches and rows suggested by the pattern. (A good knitting pattern will always have directions for a tension square.) The square is to make sure that you’re using the right size needles to achieve your desired size of make – an exercise that could and should save you months of wasted work.
Ever spent half a year knitting a jumper, only to pull it over your head and realise it’s way too big? I have. You only make that expensive mistake once. (Or twice. Okay, maybe three times…)
Some of us knit tight; some of us knit loosely. I tend to knit loosely and often need smaller needles. Still, it’s rare for me to complete a full tension square. Who has the patience? I often knit half a tension square, take a few measurements, do some maths, work out whether or not I need to change needles, prostrate myself before the God of Knitting, hold a wet finger up to test the wind, cross my fingers and toes, set up a wool shrine, then launch in. Hey, what’s six wasted months between friends?
But on behalf of my readers and my own curiosity, this time I decided to do things the right way. What impact would different needles make? I went for two that were only 0.5mm different in circumference – 2.5mm and 3mm. Would 0.5mm really turn out such different results?
First things first, my tension squares needed blocking. Below, you see them pre-block. Not exactly helpful.
For me, depth of knitting is less of a deal breaker than width. I can’t change the width my needles give me – how wide a jumper will be, for example – but I have more control over the depth of a jumper. I’ll just knit more or less rows!
So, I think this proves that it is definitely worth knitting a tension square. Can you imagine these differences over hundreds of stitches and transferred to a final make? Can you?! Of course, that’s not the question I really want you to answer. This is the question I really want you to answer:
Honestly. How often do you knit tension squares?