Make and Measure a Gauge Swatch

Before starting a project, always make a gauge swatch to ensure that you are knitting to the same gauge as the pattern. A gauge swatch is a small square of knitting that is used to measure how many stitches and rows per inch you are getting with a particular yarn on a certain size needle. It takes only a few minutes to make, and you will definitely not regret it. Many new knitters skip this step and spend hours on a sweater that ends up too big or too small.

To make a gauge swatch, you need to use the yarn and needle size that is specified in your pattern, and a stitch-and-needle gauge or tape measure. It is not a bad idea to have three pairs of needles handy: the size called for, the next size smaller, and the next size larger.

1 Cast on the same number of stitches that the pattern says is equal to 4 inches.

2 Work in stockinette stitch (Knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side) until the swatch is 4 inches long (measuring from the cast-on edge to the needle).

3 Bind off your stitches somewhat loosely, cut the working yarn (leaving about a 6-inch tail), and pull the tail through the last stitch.

4 Lay your swatch on a flat surface. Place your stitch and needle gauge (or other measuring device) so that the opening is centered both horizontally and vertically on the swatch.

5 Count how many stitches there are in the horizontal 2-inch space, and how many rows there are in the vertical 2-inch space.

6 Divide these numbers by 2. That is the number of stitches and rows that you are getting per inch.

If your pattern lists gauge as a certain number of stitches and rows over 4 inches, then multiply your stitch and row counts for 2 inches by 2.

Not Getting the Right Gauge?

If you are getting more stitches per 4 inches than the pattern calls for, try switching to a needle that is one size larger. If you are getting fewer stitches per 4 inches than the pattern calls for, try switching to a needle that is one size smaller. Make a new gauge swatch and measure again. If necessary, go up or down another needle size, create a new swatch, and re-measure.

It is difficult to match both stitch and row gauge, but it is crucial to match the stitch gauge accurately. If the row gauge is slightly off, you can work in terms of the pattern's vertical measurements rather than its row counts.

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  • Daniel
    How to measure a swatch?
    8 years ago

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