Gauge 101: Everything You Need To Know
Have you ever put precious time and money into making a beautiful crochet garment only to realize that it’s not the right size?
What went wrong? I’m here to tell you the culprit is likely gauge.
Gauge is one of the most important parts to knitting and crochet, and yet it’s commonly overlooked. Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows or rounds per a certain measurement (usually 4 in. / 10 cm) that a particular yarn and crochet hook combination will produce.
A project’s gauge should be listed in all patterns. This is important because it determines the size of a finished item and ensures that your finished item will match the dimensions specified in the pattern. Gauge is particularly crucial when making things that need to fit, such as socks, sweaters, hats, etc…
In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about gauge, including how to measure it, why it can vary, and how to make adjustments if necessary.
To measure gauge, you’ll need to work a small swatch using the yarn and crochet hook size called for in the pattern. The pattern will typically specify what should be worked up for the swatch, such as the stitch or pattern rows that should be measured. It will also tell you if the swatch should be made flat or in the round.
You’ll then measure the number of stitches and rows in a given area of the swatch to see if it matches the gauge specified in the pattern.
If the pattern lists a gauge of 20 stitches over 24 rows per 4 inches, you’ll need to measure a 4 inch square of your swatch and count how many stitches and rows are in that square. And hopefully, your stitch counts match the pattern! (And if not, that’s ok! We’ll talk about what to do if that happens a little later.)
Most times a pattern will list that the gauge measurement is taken after the swatch has been blocked. Pay particular close attention to this. Many yarns can change after blocking (stretching or shrinking) so make sure to either block, or leave unblocked according to the pattern to make sure your gauge is as accurate to the pattern as possible.
Why Gauge Can Vary
It’s important to remember that each and every single one of us is unique. So, even if two people are using the same yarn and hook size, gauge can vary quite drastically. This is because everyone’s tension is different. Additionally, even slight variations in the yarn itself can affect the gauge. This is why it’s important to create a gauge swatch before starting a project, and is especially crucial if you’re substituting a different yarn or using a different hook size than what’s called for in the pattern.
Ok, so let’s say you’ve made your swatch and the your gauge does not match the gauge listed in the pattern. Now what?
You’re going to need to make an adjustment.
Your gauge swatch has less stitches
If your gauge is too loose. You’ll need to use a smaller hook to create a tighter fabric.
Your gauge swatch has more stitches
Your gauge is too tight. You’ll need to use a larger hook to create a looser fabric.
Keep in mind that changing the hook size can also affect the drape and texture of the finished item, so you may want to make a few swatches with different hook sizes to find the one that works best for your project.
In conclusion, gauge is crucial to crochet. By understanding how to measure, adjust, and work with gauge, you’ll be able to create beautiful and perfectly sized projects every time. Don’t forget to create a gauge swatch before starting your next project and adjust your gauge as necessary to achieve the perfect size.