Don’t ask me why, but I hate gauge swatches, even though I have learned the hard way (more times than I care to admit) how important it is.
The Sterling Peplum pattern that became available yesterday was the last straw for me. As I had previously mentioned in a post while in Belize, I had to restart the top as it was much, much too big! The original design concept was for it to be knit from the bottom up, completely seamless worked on circular needles. But as I made headway on the peplum part, I quickly realized my math had led me astray. (Turns out, my original gauge swatch was worked on with size 2 US needles, but I was now knitting the top on size 3 US!)
I quickly changed the design to be worked flat from the waist up, seamed, then have the peplum worked from the waist down in the round. And I swore that my new goal for 2014 is to ALWAYS knit a gauge swatch. I know I say this all the time, but now I really, really mean it, but I am going to need you to help hold me to that!
So in an effort to be a good influence, here is everything you ever needed, or wanted, to know about gauge!
Needles – always use the needles for the gauge swatch that you are using for the project. If’ your item is going to be knit in the round on circular needles, do so for your gauge swatch as well.
Size – at minimum, your gauge swatch should be a 5″ by 5″ square. Most patterns give gauge calculations in 4″ by 4″ squares but it can be handy to have the extra inch at each end to account for any selvage stitches.
Blocking – Block the swatch the same way you plan to block your finished garment, since your swatch is essentially there to help you visual what your finished piece will look like, as well as what the finished measurements will be. See this amazing post on all the various ways to block your garment.
Measuring – My advice is to use a fabric tape measure, since it will be fluid, like your garment will be.
Now for the details:
Stitch Gauge -
Place your tape measure on your swatch, and place pins to mark a distance of 4 inches. (I usually use the 1″ and 5″ placement since the end of my tape measure is a little wonky). Then simply count the number of stitches in between. This piece has 21 sts in the 4″ section.
Row gauge is similar. Place your tape measure on your swatch, and place pins to mark a distance of 4 inches. Then simply count the number of rows in between. This piece has 28 rows in the 4″ section.
If you have any specific questions about gauge, ask me and I’ll do what I can to research an answer for you!