Skip to main content


Reading your tension square

3 min read

I’ve had a play around with working out my tension for this project.

The recommended needle size is 2.25mm. As I generally knit tight and my favourite needles for knitting socks are 2.5mm I started with them. I cast on 25 stitches and then each time I got to the end of a row I slide my stitches back to the other end of the needle and then knit them again. This is the method recommended by Ysolda for knitting a tension square in the round. Because I don’t want to sacrifice the yarn (this is a special one off ball), I didn’t block and just measure without cutting the square flat. I used my Addi sock wonder needles which are awesome, but (spoiler alert) I only have two sizes and they’re going to be too small for this project. 

In showing you the tension, I’ve used a nifty tool to demo, although in an ideal world I feel it’s best to measure over a greater expanse (10cm rather than 2.5mm) because it is more even. 
For this project we’re looking for a gauge of 32stitches x 40 rows = 10cm
Stitches run horizontally, they are the stitches I have highlighted in pink. Rows run vertically, I have highlighted them in red. 
A photograph of some knitting of apricot yarn with the horizontal stitches and vertical rows highlighted.
So on my first tension square to 2.5 cm I have 8.5 stitches and 11-12 rows, which is equivalent to 34 stitches x 46 rows. 
Wooden gauge with apricot yarn sample behind.
That is way too small, so I went up a needle size to 2.75mm needles. As you can see below, that is a little better, but I think it will be worth going up another size. 
Photo of a wooden gauge with apricot knitting behind.
For each of these I haven’t blocked them, so were my wool to expand after washing the final product will be too big, however I think I’m better off going bigger needles and I know I have had to do this consistently in the past. 
One final thing to take into consideration here is the size you want your finished sock. If your feet are slightly larger or smaller than the pattern’s “finished measurements”, one way you can fudge it is by slightly adjusting the needle size up or down (for example, if I wanted a slightly smaller sock I could use the smaller needles). However when I measured the circumference of the ball of my foot it was 8 inches, so I’ll knit one more test.