These three swatches are all made from the same yarn and using the same needles, over 20 stitches and 30 rows, but with different stitch patterns. You can see how varied the sizes of the final results are. That's why it's important to knit up a swatch in the stitch pattern you want to integrate into a master pattern. In some cases, the gauge may be just slightly off and easily remedied by blocking to measurements.
In other cases, the difference will be so pronounced that you'll have to rewrite the pattern entirely or follow the instructions—stitch-count-wise, not vertical-measurement-wise—for one of the other gauges or sizes presented in the master pattern. To do this, you would cast on and work the shaping according to the other gauge or size that suits the gauge for your swatch but follow the lengthwise instructions for your size.
To substitute a stitch pattern for plain stockinette stitch without rewriting the pattern or doing a lot of calculating, you can choose a stitch pattern that works to exactly the same gauge as specified in the pattern. It is also easiest to incorporate a stitch pattern with a repeat that divides evenly into the initial stitch count. For example, diagonal rib has a 4-stitch repeat, so it should be worked over a stitch count that is divisible by 4 (for example, 24, 28, 32, 36, and so on).
The simplest approach is to find a stitch pattern that suits the stitch count specified in the pattern. To center a cable or stitch pattern made up of an odd number of stitches, you start with an odd number of stitches so that the cable is truly centered. In this case, if the cast-on number is even and the edging requires an even number, you cast on and work the edging as written, increasing 1 stitch in the center of the last edging row. Just remember that you will have an extra neck stitch when you get to that point.
If your stitch pattern gauge is close to the gauge of the item you want to make—off by V4 stitch per inch, for example—you can probably go ahead and knit it, knowing that you will have to fudge it to the measurements when pinning and blocking later. (However, this type of adjustment may not work well with inelastic yarns or novelty yarns that cannot be blocked.) Don't go ahead and knit it if the final width is going to be more than V/2 to 2 inches off. Blocking can only go so far.
If your stitch pattern results in a gauge that is more than 1 stitch per inch different from that specified in the pattern, you will have to either rewrite the pattern yourself or follow the master pattern instructions for one of the other sizes or gauges. For example, if you're using a yarn that usually knits to 3 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch, and you're getting 4 stitches per inch with your stitch pattern, you can follow the pattern for 4 stitches per inch in your size. Or, if you're getting 4V2 stitches per inch, and the pattern is written for 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 stitches per inch, choose the stitch count from any of the gauges that results in the correct finished circumference measurements when divided by 41/;. Just remember to follow the schematic's vertical measurements to get the length right.
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