In this post, you will learn how to measure gauge in your knitting.
Gauge is also referred to as tension in some knitting patterns.
Knitting a gauge swatch is helpful for you to see if your knitted item will work out the right size.
The gauge is the number of stitches you have per inch on the horizontal and the number of rows per inch on the vertical.
Why You Should Create A Gauge Swatch
It’s a great way to begin a new project by making a gauge swatch, to check that you have the same gauge measurements as the pattern designer.
Most knitting patterns will tell you the gauge so that you can check to see if yours is the same using the same size needles and weight of yarn.
Without checking your gauge before you start a project, may mean that your project will turn out too big or too small then you intended.
Every Knitter Knits Differently
Every knitter knits differently, some knit tight and some knit loose, so all of our projects have the possibility to turn out in various sizes.
Someone who knits very tightly will have a much tighter fabric than someone who knits loosely.
This is why checking your gauge is important, especially for garments.
How To Knit A Gauge Swatch
Getting into the habit of knitting a gauge swatch before you start a project will have some benefits, even though you will be excited to get started right away.
If the gauge of a pattern says for example; 10 x 10 cm /4 x 4 inches = 18 sts and 20 rows with size 5mm (US 8) needles and worsted weight yarn, that tells you what you need to make your sample swatch.
How To Get Started
With the right size needles recommended on the pattern and the yarn weight it suggests, you can begin to knit your gauge/tension square.
Make sure you knit in whatever stitch is specified on the patterns, for example, garter stitch, stockinette stitch, etc.
You should also knit a few extra rows so that your square is a bit larger than 4×4 inches, so you can get an accurate measurement with your tape measure when lying flat.
Cast Off As It States In The Pattern
When you cast off, you should measure the swatch lying flat when it is no longer on the needles.
It is better to measure it flat so you can get a true measurement of the gauge.
If you plan on blocking your knitting when you are finished, then you should also block the swatch, so you can measure after that.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How To Knit A Gauge Swatch
- Knit your square and measure in the middle across the sample
Get your measuring tape, ruler or special gauge measuring tool (yes these are really handy!) and lay your swatch out flat. Measure the centre of the swatch and start counting. You need to measure the stitches across the knitting.
- Next measure the rows going up and down
You also need to measure the rows going up and down. Measuring both the stitches going across and rows up and down are going to give you your gauge.
- You can also use a gauge measuring tool
Use a gauge measuring tool if you have one. I use my Knit Pro gauge Tool for this. You can also get a similar tool from Addi. This may make it easier for you to count your stitches and rows. First, measure your stitches across…
- Turn it to measure the rows up and down
Then you can turn it to measure your rows up and down.
- Adjust if necessary
If your gauge measurements match up with the pattern you are following that’s great! You can now start knitting. If not you will have to adjust. For example, if you knit 6 stitches per inch instead of 9 that means that your knitting is looser and you will need to knit another swatch using smaller needles. If you have the opposite problem and your knitting is too tight, then you will have to go up a needle size. Keep knitting samples and changing your needle size until you match the gauge given on your pattern. If that still doesn’t work, you may need to change your yarn.
Knitting Gauge FAQs
You need to knit a gauge swatch also known as a tension square. This will allow you to see how many stitches you have going across and how many rows up and down in 4×4 inches. This is important to test out before you start knitting.
To make an accurate gauge swatch or tension square you need to knit a sample a bit larger than 4 x 4 inches. then you can get your measuring tape and see how many stitches you have per inch across the square and how many rows you have per inch measuring up and down.
In general, the heavier the yarn weight, the larger size needle you should use with it, this is because it will make big stitches, so you will need fewer of them. The thinner the yarn, the thinner the needle you should use with it, the smaller the stitches, so you need more of them.
Measure 4 inches, count the stitches (half-stitches, too) and divide this number by 4 (it may be a fraction). This is stitches per inch. If you have more stitches per inch than your pattern calls for that means your stitches are too small. You will now have to try using a larger needle size.
In order to count your rows in stocking stitch, you just need to count the “V’s” in the column with the right side facing you. As you can see, each V is equivalent to one row.
In your sample swatch, looking at the rows going up and down – each one of the ridges is 2 rows of knitting. Count the number of ridges and multiply that by 2. Do this counting up and down the sample from top to bottom. Remember – First, count the stitches across, next count the ridges going up and down, then multiply them by 2. This will give you your garter stitch gauge.
If the number of stitches and rows is less than quoted, knit another swatch, using smaller needles. If the number of stitches and rows is greater, use larger needles. You may need to knit samples a few times until stated tension is achieved. It is more important to obtain the right number of stitches than rows.
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