Gauge (Tension) for knitting cotton: My 2 cents worth

Hello gentle reader. Yet again I’m knitting with cotton. Obtaining the correct tension/gauge seems to be a work in progress for me. My latest theory, which seems to be holding, is the following:

  1. Wash and dry your swatch.
  2. Out of curiosity, measure your tension/gauge in rows and stitches.
  3. Hang the swatch for 24 hours, clipped to a coat hanger, a double pointed needle threaded through the bottom of the swatch, with a 50g ball of yarn hanging from the needle.
  4. Measure your tension/guage whilst the swatch is still hanging.
  5. Unhang (you know what I mean) the swatch. You’ll find it springs back from it’s weighted length.
  6. Measure your tension/guage yet again.
  7. Calculate the midway point of the tension/guage, between the hanging measurement and the post-hanging measurement.

For a garment such as a cardigan, this seems to be an accurate way to calculate tension/guage.

I’m currently working on a cotton cushion cover. As I’m knitting on smaller needles for a firmer fabric, and the fabric will be wrapped around a cushion, rather than hanging, I’m using the standard tension/gauge measuring technique. Time will tell whether this is the correct approach. Here’s the tension square for my cushion cover.


The colour choice may seem strange. My original idea was for an intarsia cushion cover of a swamp hen on a green background. Either I’m very bad at intarsia, or one-stitch-wide legs are impossible to make look good. I wasn’t going to waste this yarn, and if this colour combination is good enough for a swamp hen standing on grass, then it’s good enough for a striped cushion cover.

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