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How to: Check Your Gauge

When you first learn how to knit, all of the technical terms seem really intimidating, especially the gauge swatch.   Do you know how to check your gauge?  Don’t worry if you don’t know how to right now – you’re in the right place – but it is something you’ll need to know how to do if you want your knit clothes to fit properly.

Let’s start out with the basics, what is a knitting gauge?

A gauge is a measurement of the number of stitches and rows per inch of knitting.  Why’s this important?  If your gauge doesn’t match the suggested gauge on the pattern, your completed creation will turn out either smaller or larger than the intended project size.

Now that you know what a gauge is, here’s how you check it to make sure your project is on the right track:

Checking your Gauge:

  • Knitting Gauge Rulers
  • Dressmaker Pins
  • Knitting Needles
  • Yarns
  • Scissors
  • Wood Ruler
  1. Check your knitting pattern to see what the suggested gauge is.
  2. Take the suggested yarn and knitting needles in the appropriate size and cast at least four inches of stitches (some recommend casting six just to be safe).
  3. Once your square is done, pin it to a flat surface with dressmaker pins.  An ironing board should work out fine.   Take caution not to stretch out the square.
  4. Use a wooden ruler or a knitting needle gauge ruler to count the number of stitches and rows across one inch.
  5. Now compare your results with the suggested knitting gauge.  Use smaller sized knitting needles if the stitches and rows per inch on your sample swatch are fewer than required.  If you measure more stitches than called for, use knitting needles that are one size larger.
  6. If adjustments in needle sizes are required from step 5, knit a new square with the different needles and repeat steps 3-5 until you have the proper gauge.

If you’re a more visual person (I know I am) here’s a great video tutorial courtesy of Liat Gat of KNITFreedom, that shows you how to check your gauge.  Happy knitting!