Gauge is your tension in measurement form. It’s that magical bit of information that ensures our finished stitched piece measures up exactly to the size stated in the pattern. More exactly, gauge is the number of stitches and rows to a particular measurement given in a pattern. It is hugely important for wearables and large projects. Not so critical for non-wearables and small projects.
Most patterns give you gauge information towards the start of the pattern. It is normally given in the dominant stitch or stitch pattern of the piece OR in the stitch that is easiest to measure.
Here are some examples of how gauge can be written:
13 sts = 4 inches; 16 rows = 4 inches after blocking
Always a nice touch if a designer tells you to block and then measure your swatch.
8 sc = 2 inches; 7 rows = 2 inches
This gauge measurement tells us exactly what stitches are involved in the gauge swatch.
Rnds 1 & 2 = 1.5 inches in diameter
You will see gauge written similar to this if you are working on a project where you are working in the round.
In Spike Stitch pattern: 8 sts = 4 inches; 12 rows = 4 inches
Writing gauge in this manner is helpful because we now know exactly what stitch pattern we need to measure our gauge over.
With larger hook: 16 dc = 4 inches
Some patterns list more than one hook that will be needed in the pattern. Telling us which one to match your gauge to is a definite bonus.
With 2 strands held tog: 4 sts = 2 inches; 2 dc rows = 2.5 inches
If you pattern moves back and forth between using 2 yarns at the same time and using just one yarn at a time, writing gauge like this is super helpful.
One 2 x 2 Cable Panel = 2 inches wide
This is a wonderful way to give gauge. If your project has panels of stitch patterns, telling us the exact width that panel should be is an easy measurement to check.
Getting the gauge stated in the pattern isn’t just important from a size stand point. It is important for ensuring that you have enough yarn for the project. The yarn amounts given in a pattern are based off of the gauge and measurements in the pattern as well as the weight of the finished piece. The designer works some crazy math and comes up with the different amounts needed for each size in a pattern. If your gauge is off, these amounts are no longer accurate. Again on a small project, maybe not a big deal but on a large project, eek. No one wants to play yarn chicken or worry that they might not have enough yarn!
So be sure to try and be as accurate as possible, which opens another can of worms: How to make a gauge swatch and measure it. But that is for another blog post discussion. If I tried to put everything about gauge in this one post, it would be immensely long and you might fall asleep. We don’t want that!
Be sure to keep checking back in to learn more! Feel free to leave a comment or question about gauge as well. I will respond and possibly add more info regarding your questions into future posts.
—Britt Schmiesing, editor