Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thoughts on Gauge & Gauge Conversions

What is more dismaying than making a whole project only to find that the fit is terrible?  If your gauge is off even a quarter stitch in an inch, you get that "shock and awe" moment when you realize that your project is ruined.

We machine knitters have a fantastic advantage when it comes to fitting our garments because we can very quickly knit a nice, big gauge swatch.  You see, the bigger the swatch, the more accurate the measurement.

If a pattern gives the gauge in stitches per inch, or even stitches in 10 centimeters (common in international patterns), whether you're hand knitting or machine knitting, you want to measure a larger area than just a few inches (10 cm is roughly 4 inches, by the way).   Our typical swatch size in machine knitting is 40 stitches by 60 rows, and in fact, we knit the swatch bigger than that and mark a center area to make it easy to measure that size rectangle. 

Here's a video showing how to make a good gauge swatch:

Lesson 28 Gauge Swatch

The eyelet holes mark the tension setting, and the colors mark the block to measure.  You'll be able to measure in several places and you won't have to try to count individual stitches.

If you are working on a bulky machine, you can knit your swatch 20 stitches and 30 rows.  Go ahead and block and launder your gauge swatch in the same way you plan to block and launder your garment, as those processes will change the size of the stitches. 

Still, bigger is better!  Waste a little yarn to make the whole project turn out much better. 

Now, to move from inches to centimeters, just multiply by the number of inches by 2.54.  If you would rather use a conversion table, here are a couple of them -

And rows...

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