If your gauge swatch doesn't match the one specified in the pattern you want to use and you want your project to come out the same size as the pattern measures, you must change the needle size you're working on and make another swatch. If your first swatch is smaller than specified, use larger needles. If your swatch is larger than specified, use smaller needles.
Keep adjusting your needle size and remaking your swatch until you get the number of stitches and rows in a 4-inch square that your pattern requires. If you can't get both stitch and row gauge to match the pattern's gauge, work with the needle that gives you the right stitch gauge.
The cumulative effect of knitting at a gauge as small as half a stitch less than the pattern calls for can be disastrous. For example, if your project piece is supposed to measure 20 inches and calls for a gauge of 5 stitches per inch, your finished piece will measure 22 inches if you're knitting at 4 stitches per inch. And if you're off by 2 inches on both the front and back of a sweater, the total difference between the pattern and your sweater will be 4 inches overall. That's why gauge gets so much attention in knitting books and why taking the time to measure it is so important.
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