Yarn Over: Measuring Pieces

It’s my personal belief that every knitter will eventually learn more about the mechanics of knitting just through knitting itself, if you’re willing to look for little lessons to learn. Knitting has taught me quite a lot of these small things over seven years of doing it; Yarn Over is just a couple of those tips.

Measuring pieces on the needle can be a very important aspect of projects, especially if you’re making a piece of clothing or something else that should be a certain size. It’s slightly more complicated than it sounds, though, just measuring knitting. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Have a good measuring tape. The one I use is long, collapsible, floppy (not rigid), and measures in both inches and centimeters.
    The tape I use for measuring knitting!
    The tape I use for measuring knitting!
    • Unless you’re measuring for gauge, stiff rulers are usually a bad idea. (They’re often too short, which makes you use multiple rulers, or using the same one over again, which creates imprecise measurement.)
    • If you’re into it, stiff measuring tapes aren’t bad, but I’ve personally found that they create much more uncertainty and offer less flexibility (no pun intended) than floppy tapes.
    • You can find some good measuring tapes at your local sewing store. I happen to own a couple from a science expo.
      • As a bonus, my tape has a ring at the end. The current use for this is to thread it on my cable needle and store both by keeping the cable needle stuck through my knitting. Makes for good transportation!

        I like to store my measuring tape by hooking it into my knitting with my cable!
        I like to store my measuring tape by hooking it into my knitting with my cable needle.
  • Have a flat surface to measure on. A hard table is always the best option. To the get the most accurate measurement, having the knitting flat will help you not to measure stretched knitting or wrinkles which ‘shorten’ length.
    • Not going to lie, I measure knitting on soft surfaces all the time, like my bed, or hanging in the air in the car! The main idea here is to remember that you’re not getting an exact measurement. I often do this when I just need a rough measurement.
  • Measure the same way each time. If you need to check the length of a piece often, don’t do it two different ways.
    Down the middle, to the needle. I get 44 cm here.
    Down the middle, to the needle. I get 44 cm here.
    • If you decide to have the zero line down at the beginning and the measurement up at the needle (my personal preference), do it again that way next time. If you decide to have the zero line at the needle, and measure down to the beginning, do it that way again next time.
  • Measure down the middle. This also means don’t measure down edges, or cables, or anything that makes the piece tense or loosen at places. The middle is often the most relaxed part of a piece, and the left and right edges can be much tighter or looser than the rest of it.
  • Measure up to the needle, don’t include it! I remember that when I first tried measuring knitting, I came to the needle and I was like, well, do I include this in the measurement? I decided to do it. No! You’re not supposed to. The actual knitting only comes up to right under the needle. Adding the width of the needle misrepresents the length of the next row.

Now you know how I measure knitting. Don’t hesitate to suggest your improvements to my non-expert methods!

(Modeling here is a sleeve from a sweater project. The pattern is from the Usborne book of knitting.)

Yarn Over: Measuring Pieces


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