TKGA Master Hand Knitter 1 – Gauge

Week: 5

Currently Working On: Swatch # 1-3 Questions


I was quite lazy this past week as evident by my late post.  However, I did start going back to answer the questions for the first three swatches I’ve already knit.  This week I focused on gauge. Gauge, and more specifically the gauge swatch, is known as a sort of bad word to some knitters.  It’s a pain.  Prepping for a pattern can be excruciating when all you want to do is jump in and knit.  Unfortunately as I have read several times this week:

There is nothing more important to the fit of any garment you knit than an accurate stitch gauge

From my reading I found there are five variables that determine gauge: your hands, needles, knitting method, yarn, and pattern.  My experience has shown me that the easiest variable to change is the needles and then the yarn.  Changing to a new needle size is a very easy and quick way to adjust your gauge.  If you gauge is too tight, meaning you have more stitches than the gauge called for, you can try a size or two bigger needle.  If your gauge is too loose, meaning you have less stitches than the gauge called for, you can try a size or two smaller needle.

If you still can’t get quite the right gauge it’s entirely possible that trying a different needle type as well as size can get you to the proper gauge.  A knitters gauge will be different on circular needles, dpns, and straight needles.  You can also try different needle materials such as bamboo or metal to get different gauges.

Personally I tend to go straight for altering the pattern to fit my gauge whenever possible but I’m one of the rare people who enjoy the math of pattern alterations.  I’ve always looked at patterns as more of a template than anything.  Gauge can be a very powerful thing.  When I wanted to make the Esme hat for an 18″ doll I wasn’t in the mood to recalculate the entire pattern so I simply changed the gauge with different needles and yarn.  It still took some math and wasn’t quite perfect but it was a 5 minute alteration for me.

The last thing I want to mention is that there are two measurements and I find them equally important; these are the stitch gauge and the row gauge.  In the right circumstances both are easy to adjust but in the wrong circumstances both are almost impossible to adjust for.  Stitch gauge equals width while row gauge equals length.  In stockinette removing/adding a stitch or an entire row is easy.  However, once stitch patterns, cabling, fair isle, etc come into play both gauge measures become crucial. Can you imagine removing the row of a snowflake fair isle pattern to get the proper length?  I don’t think you would have a very pretty snowflake after that.


Schwan, Binka, “On Your Way To The Masters  – Gauge.” Cast On Magazine, February – April 2009 p. 64-65.

Hiatt, June Hemmons, The Principles of Knitting, Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Gauge: ch. 23 pgs 455-457

Leave a Reply