A gauge is the measurement of the number of stitches per inch. The gauge given in a pattern is simply the number of stitches the designer achieved per inch. In order for your knitting to match the dimensions of the pattern, you need to knit with the same number of stitches per inch as the designer. A test swatch is knit in the required stitch pattern and suggested needle size. The swatch is then measured to determine if it matches the same number of stitches per inch as the pattern. Because each knitter has their own unique tension, it is not unusual to try several needle sizes before achieving the required gauge. This dreaded bit of experimentation is crucial to proper sizing.

Every knitter wants to jump right into their new project and skip the swatch/gauge step. Avoid this temptation and spend the valuable time calculating your gauge. You will be much happier wearing a perfectly sized garment. This advice comes from the knitter who made a sweater without a gauge for herself and instead it fit her husband. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get him to wear the pink cable sweater!)

Check out this video and learn to correcting calculate your gauge for your next project.

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  1. Mary
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I see you are counting the stitches horizontally. Do you ever need to be concerned about the other direction or number of rows per inch?

  2. Posted June 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Yes, row gauge is important in many projects and the row gauge is calculated in the same manner as the stitches per inch.

  3. Mary
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I am swatting your new KAL at 4.5 stitches per inch. Is it 4.5 rows owe inch also?

  4. Posted June 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Row gauge is not crucial to this project since we will knit the pillow front long enough to match the length of pillow. My row gauge was approximately 5.5 rows per inch.

  5. Nan
    Posted October 6, 2013 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Should you wash and dry your swatch and then rehearse guage? I knit a sweater to guage and after washing it it grew.

  6. Posted October 6, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Yes, I wash and block my swatch before measuring. I’m sorry about your sweater!

  7. Posted October 17, 2014 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    I’m starting your Building Blocks afghan. My swatch, with 3.5 mm needles, yields 4 stitches/in, but just shy of 6 row/in (instead of 5 rows/in). How do I adjust for a discrepancy in rows but not stitches? (I know it doesn’t matter for an afghan, but I’m curious.)

  8. Posted October 17, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for knitting Building Blocks with me! It is more important to achieve the correct stitches per inch than rows per inch. the slight discrepancy in your gauge can be minimized when you block the squares.

  9. Karen Smith
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I am trying to make socks with the magic loop method using worsted weight yarn. I started with a size 6 needle and have landed on size 2! Is this crazy? I usually have to make adjustments, but this seems extreme!

  10. Posted February 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Are you normally a loose knitter? The magic loop method shouldn’t have a dramatic impact on your gauge. Socks knit with worsted weight yarn can be knit with the needle size recommended by the yarn.

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