Sunday, March 23, 2014


What is Gauge?
Gauge is defined as the measurement of the number of stitches and rows per inch required to knit a pattern. A knitted swatch is required to calculate the gauge. It is also known as a 'tension' swatch. The gauge will be affected by the type/weight of yarn, the size of knitting needle used as well as the stitch pattern. 

The gauge swatch is knit to a minimum 6"/14 cm square and the stitches (width) and rows (height) are then measured over a 4"/10 cm square. Measuring over less than 4"/10 cm can result in inaccurate stitch/row counts but a 4"/10 cm measurement will ensure that half stitches are included in the count. 

The Importance of Checking Your Gauge
Knitters that use the same yarn and same knitting needles may have a different knitting gauge than the other knitters or the designer of the pattern whether the knitter knits a bit looser or a bit tighter. This variance in gauge will affect the overall size and fit of a garment. If a sweater has been designed to have 22 stitches per 4"/10 cm, and it is actually knit to 20 stitches per 4"/10 cm, the finished item will not fit as intended. Gauge is not generally required for scarves and blankets but is crucial for any fitted items such as sweaters.

    The gauge will be shown on a pattern as follows:
    ___ sts x ___ rows = 4"/10 cm using ____ needles. 
    The information may also indicate the stitch pattern used to obtain the gauge.
    If not, consider it to be stockinette stitch.

    The pattern will also detail the size of needles to be used under materials, 

Knitting the Gauge Swatch
Knit the swatch using the recommended needle size and stitch pattern in a 6"/15 cm square (cast on one-and-a-half times the 4" stitch gauge). Bind off loosely. Measurements should be taken from the center of the square as edges tend to curl in a bit and may be tighter than the knit fabric. It is important to block the swatch before measuring.

Measuring stitch gauge: Place a marker 1"/2.5 cm in from the edge and another marker exactly 4"/10 cm from the first marker. Count the number of stitches between markers including any half stitches (and quarter stitches for chunky yarns). The stitch is the 'v' in the fabric. This will give you the number of stitches for gauge.

Measuring row gauge: Place a marker 1"/2.5 cm up from the bottom and another marker exactly 4"/10 cm from the first marker. Count the rows between the two markers to get your row gauge. It's easier to count the rows on the back of a stockinette stitch swatch because the purl 'bumps' are easier to count.

The markers can be pins or a different colour of yarn but whatever type of marker is used it is important that the marker does not move the stitches apart as this will affect the stitch count.

Adjusting to Meet Gauge
If you have fewer stitches than required for the gauge, go down a needle size.
If you have more stitches than required for gauge, go up a needle size.
It is a good idea to make a note on the pattern of any changes to the needle size.

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