How to Gauge Your Knitting

How to Gauge Your Knitting or why one size doesn’t fit all!

What exactly is gauge?

Before you ever begin to knit, there are a few basics to know. One of these basics is called gauge. You see it mentioned in most knitting pattern directions. It refers to the tightness or the looseness of your knitting.

When you look at whatever it is you’re knitting, you will notice that the pattern consists of stitches and rows. In order to calculate if a pattern will fit you well, or if you need a smaller or a larger size, it is always important to pay attention to the gauge measurements.

Gauge is just another way to measure tension in your knitting; to see how many stitches you get to an inch. That’s it!

Which patterns use gauge the most?

Gauge sounds something like this: With larger size needles, in pattern, 20 sts and 26 rows = 4″.

If after casting on 20 sts and working 26 rows you don’t achieve 4″, something will need to be adjusted. Every knitter knits differently. Hand 5 knitters the exact size needles and same yarn and you will inevitably end up with different measurements with their gauge. Crazy, but true!

If you are knitting a sweater, socks or hats, then pay attention! Gauge is really important for that best fit. After all, if you’re like me, the LAST thing you want to do is to spend hours working on a sweater only to have it come out too large to wear. That was a waste of time! And it doesn’t have to be that way.  🙁

Knitting placemats, washcloths, afghans, scarves, even shawls does not require exacting measurements. These items are not “worn” in the same ways.

How do I measure gauge?

With any pattern there will always be a gauge measurement given, like the one above.

In my example here, the gauge called for me to knit a sample piece 6 inches wide by 5 inches long on size 10 needles. Working in stockinette stitch, (knit one row, purl one row) I had to knit this in 24 stitches and 28 rows.

24 stitches on a knitting needle

24 stitches on the knitting needle



Usually when finished, my gauge is okay. I knit this swatch with Red Heart yarn.

5"  long for gauge

5″ long as specified

6" across for gauge

6″ wide as specified

Once done, bind off, then block the square and wash it. Once dry, measure to be sure your sample piece are the correct numbers.

How do I measure rows and stitches?

Easy! Every row on the knit side looks like a “V”.

Knit side

Knit stitches look like “Vs”

Counting every “V” is counting every stitch. Hold your ruler to a row, horizontally. Measure a row by counting the stitches in a column. Measure a 4-inch area.

Holding the ruler vertically, count a 4-inch area of stitches. In this case, there should be 5 stitches per inch. Do you see that?

Reading gauge

Reading from the bottom up, there are 5 stitches to the inch.

Count the “Vs”. Each “V” is a stitch. Your gauge measurement should equal what the directions for your pattern call for.

What do I do if they don’t match?

Don’t panic! Sometimes, this happens. If your swatch is smaller than what is called for, then try larger needles.

If the swatch is too large, try smaller needles.

Making a gauge swatch takes VERY little time and can really save you a lot of wasted time, in the long run.

Be sure to learn how to gauge your knitting.

Be patient, and pay attention to detail and you will amazed at how beautiful your knitting can be!

As always, take your knitting to heart!       Glitter heart


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