Gauge is so important when knitting garments and socks. Fit depends on it. Clara Parkes gives a wonderful overview of the principles of a well knitted sock in her book, The Knitter’s Book of Socks. For a fingering-weight yarn, she suggests a gauge of between 8 and 10 stitches. I like a gauge of 8.5 stitches for ribbing or cables and a gauge of 9 stitches for lace socks. My go-to sock yarn right now is Cascade Heritage. It is soft (merino wool), washable (super wash) and has a bit of nylon for durability. It’s always my choice for socks that will be gifts because of of its durability and washability. So I know that a US 1 needle will give me a gauge of 9 stitches per inch every time. And I know that when I want a gauge of 8.5 stitches per inch I need to use a US 1.5 needle. And if I have a hard remembering this? Well, I solved that problem with this swatch:
I knitted a tube of fabric with Cascade Heritage Sock yarn. I put a small cuff on each end so it will lay flat. I started with US 2 dpns, knitted for a couple of inches, purled one row to mark the end of the section, and then changed to US 1.5 dpns. I worked 4 sections in total, each time decreasing my needle size. I washed it. Then I labelled it:
Now I know that every time I use Cascade Heritage, I can choose the gauge I need, check my swatch, and select the right needle size. It’s a no-brainer!