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Knitting our SCY designs with Cotton yarn

Helen Rose
8 April 2024

Hello lovelies

We get a lot of questions about our Big Cotton yarn and how our Super Chunky patterns translate when knit up with the cotton yarn so we thought we’d collate all the info so you can access it in one handy place!

We were hoping that this would be in beautiful alignment with the changing of the season and the arrival of the sunshine but here in the South West, the sun is hesitant to even make an appearance let alone stick around for any length of time 🙄

That being said – Big Cotton yarn is perfect for all year round so although it’s perfect for Summer knits especially, this info is relevant whatever the weather!

Our Big Cotton

If you need a little reminder about our cotton yarn then you can nip over to our blog all about it and why it’s a winner.

It’s growing in popularity each year, especially when you’re knitting for summer, and as we add to our pattern collection, its versatility makes it a really favoured choice with all of you.

But to push it even further, we want to show you how you can knit up our ‘non-cotton’ knits in it and what to do when adapting the pattern because it isn’t always going to be an exact like for like – the cotton is a lighter weight than the SCY for example.

Testing your gauge

Hopefully you’re aware of what gauge means, but if not then take a quick read here. 

When you knit in cotton yarn, the gauge will be different to knitting in our other yarns. So when you choose a super chunky pattern the end result may be quite different depending on your gauge.

Our Super Chunky yarn is best knit with needle sizes 12-15mm – most of our patterns are made in one of these sizes. Our Big Cotton yarn however is best knit on 8-10mm needles. It is possible to knit on the larger needles, but the finish will be different.

We’ve done some handy swatches for you to take a look at…

You may have a preference of finish – it may be you like the tighter weave best or you prefer the looser, more flowy finish. Either way, the finish will dictate what needle size you wish to knit with.

Remember that all of our tensions can be different, so be sure to knit your own gauge swatches to refer to. 

Once you’ve done your own test gauges you now have an idea of what measurements you can work towards. It may be that you’ve found a pattern knit on 10mm needles and your gauge is bang on and you can just follow the pattern like for like. In which case – go for it!

Otherwise, you’ll need to make a few calculations… .

What if the gauge is off?

If you’ve decided you want to go for a smaller needle size it’ll mean your gauge doesn’t match what the pattern states. 

As an example, the Super Purlfect vest pictured below should be knit on a size 15mm needle with Super Chunky Yarn. I wanted to make it on a 12mm needle and I made a size small (the ribs were knit on a size 8mm needle instead of a 10mm.) The gauge ended up 8sts x 10 rows instead of 7sts x 9 rows so it came out slimmer and shorter than it would have as a super chunky vest. 

This is fine for us as a knit to show in a blog, but if you are making this top and it’s coming out smaller than you’d like, then you’ll need to size up on the pattern.

We would also go longer on this top if we were making it for ourselves, whereas the cropped SCY vest sits at a length we’re happy with. 

So to summarise if the needles you’re using are smaller than the pattern states, you can;

  1. Go down a needle size and stick to the same dress size but the knit will be smaller 
  2. Go down a needle size and size up on the pattern for a similar finished size


Also, as an aside, the finish with the cotton is a lot drapier than the Super Chunky – plus it doesn’t have the elasticity that the SCY has, so it does tend to ‘hang’ more and doesn’t hold its shape. We’d say that the cotton is therefore more suited to naturally drapey designs than those which are fitted.

What if the gauge is similar?

If the gauge isn’t too far off and you’re happy with the finish of the 12mm needles, then there are a number of our patterns you can knit like for like. 

Our bestselling Dreamy Cardigan for example comes out with a similar finish size to the Super Chunky. The washability of the cotton means this may be a really attractive option for you, but the finish as stated before is definitely a lot drapier than the merino without the stretch that the Super Chunky has.

The amount of cotton yarn used in the Dreamy cardigan was slightly more in weight than the SCY so also bear this in mind when you’re buying the yarn. The cotton comes in 100g balls whereas the SCY in 200g, so you’ll need to remember that too (although handily it’s around the same length per 100 grams.)

The cotton yarn is absolutely beautiful once knitted up, but because it is multi ply, it can be a little fiddly to knit with – occasionally one of those plys can separate from the main group and you’ll end up with the odd free loop! It just requires a little more concentration and patience but once it’s finished it feels so super soft!

So… to wrap up – we would absolutely recommend giving our super chunky patterns a go with the cotton yarn if you’d like to, however our suggestions are;

🕸️ Stick to a size 12mm needle max

🕸️ If the pattern states a larger needle, size down the needle & size up the pattern

🕸️ Drapey, flowy designs are best to knit with the cotton rather than fitted designs

🕸️ Our Big Little Yarn designs would be a great intro into exchanging the merino for cotton before going for our SCY knits

🕸️ Knitting with the cotton does require a little more patience than the merino, but it is worth it!

We’d love to see some of the knits you’ve created with the cotton yarn – please do feel free to share them on Instagram tagging us @laurenastondesignsstudio and using #SharewithLAD

I hope that’s been useful!

Just remember to gauge (I know, I know – but it is a good idea in this case…) and you’ll be fine!

Helen x

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