Each of our knitting instructions includes information on the gauge.
This information might look like this:
Stockinette stitch, with US size 10 / 6 mm needles: 15 stitches and 23 rows = 4 x 4 inches / 10 x 10 cm.
This means that on a small stockinette stitch swatch, a square which is 15 stitches wide and 23 rows high must measure 4 inches on each side. This is the number of stitches and rows that the designer of the project used as the basis of the figures given in the instructions. If, on your swatch, this number of stitches and rows results in a square which is larger or smaller than the given size, your finished knit object will not be of the desired size. Considering the amount of time, effort, and also money that will be invested in a larger knitting project, it is imperative that you first make a swatch to check the gauge before you begin with the actual project itself. It is much better to invest a little time at the beginning of a project than to be disappointed at the end!
The wrapper of each of our yarns also includes gauge information. This is based on stockinette stitch and with the indicated needle size. In this article, we take the yarn Cordelo as an example. However, depending on the type of project in question, the designer’s gauge information may differ from that on the wrapper. For this reason, it is always best to use the gauge information included in the actual knitting instructions.
On the wrapper you´ll find information on needle size and gauge. Example Cordelo: 15 stitches and 23 rows, in stockinette stitch with needle US size 9-10 = 4 x 4 inches / 10 x 10 cm.
How do I make a gauge swatch?
Cast on at least 4 stitches more than shown in the symbol. Example Cordelo: 15 + 4 = 19 stitches.
1) With the specified yarn and needle size, cast on a least 4 stitches more than given in the gauge information. Work the indicated pattern for a least 4 rows more than the height of the gauge square. Cast off the swatch and measure it. The cast-on edge and side edges of the swatch may be tighter or looser than the center of the swatch. In that case, it is best to measure in the center of the swatch, with a ruler or measuring tape.
Gauge swatch Cordelo – 19 stitches, 27 rows.
2) Lay the swatch down flat, without stretching it. If you want, fix it with pins. Place the ruler on the center of the swatch, exactly along a knit row. With straight pins, mark the beginning of the gauge square (0-point), a few stitches from the edge, and the 4 inch / 10 cm point (this should again be a few inches from the edge). Now count the number of stitches which lie between the pins – including a half-stitch, if this is the case.
Measuring stitches: exactly 15 stitches between 0-point and 4-inch / 10 cm point.
3) In the same manner, measure 4 inches / 10 cm vertically, between the cast-on edge and needle, in the center of the swatch, and count the number of rows.
Measuring rows: exactly 23 rows between 0-point and 4-inch / 10 cm point. This means the right gauge was achieved with needle size US 10 / 6 mm.
4) If, for the 4 inches / 10 cm, you count fewer stitches than in the given gauge, this means that you knit more loosely; more stitches means that you knit more tightly.
Remember that a difference of only one stitch from the given gauge can result in a considerable size difference in the knit object because the differences accumulate over a large number of stitches.
How do I achieve the correct gauge?
If your gauge differs from the given gauge by 1 or 2 stitches, we recommend that you change the size of your needles. Don’t even attempt to knit tighter or looser because this would only result in an uneven appearance of your knitting. Each of us has their own personal way of knitting, depending on the method, the way the yarn is held, etc. For this reason, it is best to use larger or smaller needles to adjust the gauge measurements. The rule of thumb is: one size larger if you knit one stitch more and one size smaller if you knit one stitch less.
In other words, if for a width of 4 inches, worked with US size 10 / 6 mm needles, you count only 14 stitches, instead of the desired 15, you should knit a new swatch with US size 10.5 / 6.5 mm needles. Correspondingly, a US size 9 / 5.5 mm needle may solve the problem if you count 16 stitches instead of 15. Correspondingly, if your gauge differs by 2 stitches, use needles which are two sizes larger or smaller.
If you are planning on knitting a project which includes various different knit patterns – for example cable, textured, and lace patterns – usually, more than one gauge will be given. Depending on the pattern, the gauge information may differ. Working a gauge swatch in stockinette stitch doesn’t make much sense if you are knitting a pullover in an entirely different pattern.
Even if you are very impatient to begin work on your project, it is a good idea to take the time to make a gauge swatch. It will save you extra work and frustration later!
Take a note on your gauge and keep the swatch – if you choose to knit with the same yarn in the future, you already have this information.
Are there any exceptions?
There is always an exception to every rule so there are indeed certain projects for which those who absolutely hate to make gauge swatches can ignore the need to do so. In general, exactly achieving the given sizes of accessories, such as bags, scarves or shawls, is not as important as it is, for example, for pullovers or cardigans, which need to fit well.
But still, the style and shape of the accessory will be significantly influenced by the way they are knit. In addition, the amount of yarn needed for a project is dependent on how loosely or tightly it is knit. If you knit loosely, and therefore use more yarn per stitch, it is possible that your yarn will be used up before the project is completed. If, toward the end of your project, you discover that you need to buy more yarn, chances are great that this yarn won't come from the same dye bath as your original yarn. Of course, needing more yarn also increases the total cost of the project. For these reasons, we also recommend making a gauge swatch before beginning to knit an accessory, then changing the needle size, if needed.
Ignoring the need to make a gauge swatch always happens at your own risk!
Do I also need to make a gauge swatch for a crochet project?
Our explanations above refer to knitting but a gauge swatch is just as important for crochet projects. It is made and measured similarly to a knit swatch.