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Once upon a time, I worked with a talented, plucky Knitter who was always fond of saying “Don’t measure on your knee!” (Of course, this was usually in the context of a knitting class-type situation.) And it’s absolutely true–it’s very difficult to measure your work accurately if you do so on an uneven surface. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve made this mistake.

Most of us know about the “black hole” of knitting, which occurs when we knit and knit and knit, but our work just doesn’t get any bigger, try as we might. Now, there are some projects that have rounds or rows with ridiculous stitch counts, and those certainly make for slower progress; however, I believe that sometimes the black hole is of our own making. Sometimes we end up knitting more than necessary, all because we’re not measuring our work accurately. And really, who wants to work on a project more than need be? Not I! Life is short, and the queue is long! So, without further ado, here is a list of measuring tips:

  1. Most important, use a soft tape, such as a dressmaker’s tape or a spring-loaded tape. I would not recommend using a metal tape–not even a thin one. They’re just not flexible enough to measure fabric well.
  2. Certain fibers tend to expand when they’re blocked. Silk, bamboo, and alpaca are some of the worst in this department, so try to keep that in mind when working with those materials. Measure conservatively, because they will drape.
  3. It doesn’t do to skimp on length when it comes to items such as socks, armwarmers, legwarmers, and the like. The negative ease that keeps these garments in place also subtracts length from the finished product. Measure generously, because they will need to stretch laterally.
  4. When measuring things like scarves and sweaters, try hanging your work by the needles and measure the length that way. After all, those items will be hanging on you, so you may as well account for the stretch that gravity will eventually impose on your projects.
  5. When not measuring your work from the needles, make sure to measure on a clean, flat surface. Trust me–a decent measuring space will make such a difference in the consistency of your efforts!

How about you? How do you like to measure your work? Have you ever measured on your knee? Please share below!