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Yarn Gauge, What's it about and is it really important?

Crochet Swatch and Needle
Crochet Swatch

Are you new to world of yarn? Experienced? I held a crocheting class with a group of friends and we brought up the topic of yard gauge, mystifying as it was to the newbies, my good friend, Liliana, who is an experienced knitter, has not checked gauge. Now I have seen clothing she has made and they have turned out fantastic and spot on.

While all of us cannot be blessed with the gift "gauge sense" like Liliana and my Mom there are tools and tips to help us!

Tip #1 - What is Gauge Anyway?

Gauge is simply the number of stitches and row per inch/cm that is indicated in a pattern. If the gauge is not correct, your project may not come out as it is shown on the pattern's picture or the pattern may not the correct size.

Pro Tip! Gauge is not important to all patterns out there, make sure you read your patten first as it will indicate if it is not!

The pictures below come from a couple patterns I purchase from Lion Brand Yarn, as you see gauge is dependent on project:

Tip #2 - Knowledge is power..uh how do we measure?

Let's get back to the class I was teaching. Part of the basics is to learn to crochet a 5in x 5in (127mmx127mm) swatch, why you ask? Let's break it out.

  • We want to measure our gauge in at least a 4in x 4in square

  • We don't want to measure on the outsides or close to the foundation row

    • Too close to the foundation row the stitches can be tight

    • The edge of the square can be looser

Now that we our swatch, lay it flat and grab your ruler or knit checker (shown below) and count the number of rows and stitches in the number of inches given in the pattern gauge.

  • If you look at the Gauge picture above its says "12st + 10 rows = 4in (10cm) over (sc, dc) of Row 2

    • That means when measuring your gauge there should be:

      • 4inches across: 12 stitches of single crochet over double crochet that started in row two

      • 4inches down: of single crochet over double crochet

Below is a Susan Bates Knit Check you can pick up from a local craft store or you can use any ruler to measure gauge!

Yarn Gauge
Susan Bates Yarn Gauge

Tip #3 - Something's Amiss! I followed instructions and my Gauge does not match!

Gauge is largely dependent on your tension and the tension of the designer. If it doesn't match don't worry!

  1. If you measure more stitches and rows per inch than the pattern calls for, go up a hook size

  2. If you are measuring fewer stitches and rows per inch than the pattern calls for, go down a hook size!

Tip #4 - Tada! I'm Gauged

Now that you have your gauge, if you are making a wearable item, trying washing your swatch and see if it changes for size reference. This can be done for blankets as well. I tend to skip this step when making amigurumi.

Tip #5 - What to do with the Gauge Swatches?

There are many things you can do with the swatches! You can keep them as a reference for future projects or put them together and make a custom project. Just be sure to keep note of the type of yarn you used for each swatch! Do you have a project you made out of your Gauge Swatches? Feel free share in the comments below!

Now that you know all about Yarn Gauge you are all set to start on your projects! This guideline applies to both crochet and knitting. So pick up those needles and get your gauge on!

Stay Creative!


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