The Importance of Gauge
I can’t stress enough the importance of knitting and crochet GAUGE when it comes to making items that are meant to fit a specific size. Here are 2 hats made from medium weight yarn (4), using the same hook size. As a matter of fact, both yarns have very similar yardage per 100g, but different fiber content. Therefore, they performed differently and as a result, one of the hats turned out larger than the other.
So what is the gauge?
The gauge is a given number of stitches/rounds per inch/cm. It’s basically a guideline that regulates the size of your finished item. Example: 16 dc X 9 rows = 4″ X 4″ (10 X 10 cm).
Why the gauge is so important
Since crochet tension varies from person to person, it’s important to test and achieve the gauge of the pattern for accurate sizing. You can calibrate your gauge by using a larger or smaller sized hook/needles…and in some cases, you might need to revise your yarn choice.
For instance, if you are using the suggested yarn and hook size but you crochet too tightly, then the number of stitches per 4″ (10 cm) will be greater, and your finished item will turn out smaller. The opposite effect will occur if you crochet too loosely. Thus, always check your gauge if the finished size is important.
To do so, you first make a swatch slightly larger than indicated, so you can comfortably measure it. You may need to block your swatch if the pattern includes measurements after blocking. Using a regular ruler or a gauge tool, simply measure and count the rows/stitches in your swatch. You can check out this video tutorial for additional tips on how to measure gauge by my friend and tech editor Edie Eckman.
Here are a few useful (yet adorable) tools for measuring gauge. The links below are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, if you choose to make a purchase.
- Purple Elephant – Knitter’s Pride Gauge Tool
- The Elegant Knitter Sheep – Brass Knitting Needle/Stitch Gauge
Once you’ve measured and calibrated your gauge, you can begin your project with confidence. Be sure to maintain consistent tension throughout your work. Find a comfortable position and knit/crochet at your normal pace without speeding up or slowing down too much…as the tension may change depending on mood, time of the day, or distractions. Also, it’s good practice to measure your stitches once in a while along the way for consistency.