We’ve all seen the portion of the crochet pattern where it says stitch gauge, right? Well, how many of you have ignored it? How many of you have also ended up with a project that is either way too small, or large? Today we’ll be talking about why stitch gauge is important, and why you shouldn’t ignore this piece of the pattern.
As a new crocheter, I often spent time crocheting swatches to perfect my tension. This is definitely an area where lots of practice is required to really begin to feel comfortable with moving on to making wearable items, or even items that I felt comfortable displaying in my home. When you crochet afghan blocks, you want them all to be relatively the same size so that you can join them together easily. This is why following gauge is important.
The term stitch gauge in crochet refers to the number of stitches and rows within a specified block of measurement (normally 4″x4″), crocheted with a specified hook size and yarn weight.
Let’s break it down.
Crochet hook size F/5 – 4.00mm, yarn weight = 4 Medium, 13 sts = 4 inches, 10 rows = 4 inches in hdc.
This means if you examine a square that is 4 inches in width and 4 inches in height with this crochet hook (size F), then you should end up with a stitch count of 13 stitches across, and 10 rows tall.
What happens if you have more stitches per 4 inches, or more rows?
If you have more than the specified amount should be, then that means that your tension is a bit too tight. Try making the swatch again with a larger crochet hook. The goal is to get the correct gauge so that your pattern will be the same in size as written. If you have more stitches per row, or more rows when you are testing your gauge, then your project is going to be smaller than the intended size.
Same goes for it you have more stitches or rows per gauge. Try downsizing in hook size.
How to crochet a swatch for stitch gauge
If you will be crocheting a swatch to measure gauge, crochet your swatch to be 5-6 inches in height and width. This will allow you to measure the interior and the start and changing rows won’t interfere with your stitch count.
Also ensure to use the same yarn that you will be using for your project. This will help you to adjust your hook size to the yarn you’ve already purchased. Not all yarn is created equal. On the yarn label there is weight listed. 4 is medium weight, and is the type recommended in the pattern example above.
How to measure stitch gauge
Stitch gauge can be measured in one of two ways: using a tape measure to measure out a 4″x4″ swatch, or by using a stitch gauge tool. The Knit Chek tool by Susan Bates allows you to place the tool over your project and count the stitches and rows displayed through the pre-defined cut outs in the tool. The Boye Count 10 Plus has a slider where you can easily measure stitches per inch.
I hope you were able to learn a little more about why stitch gauge is important today, and I hope that this helps you to accurately gauge your projects so that they come out the intended size.