A designer will establish the number of stitches and rows needed to obtain a given measurement in the chosen yarn usually 4 inches or 10 centimeters - and stitch pattern, and use that information when calculating the size and shape of a garment. So it is vital for the knitter following the instructions to work to the same gauge, otherwise the garment simply won't measure the same.
Knitting patterns emphasize that the knitter must use the correct yarn, so you might think that this applies to the needle size too. But the needle size is given as a guide only, it doesn't matter what size you use as long as you gel the correct gauge.
So always knit up a swatch and check your gauge before you start on the real thing. It's the only way to save wasting time and effort, creating a knit that doesn't fit.
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