Monday, March 12, 2012

Gauge and Consistency

Gauge, oh how I dread that word. I hate making gauge swatches and I hate counting gauge even more. I dislike it so much that I usually have someone at my LYS count mine. Now, why do I feel this way? I don’t know. Maybe it is because I never really understood gauge. My lesson last week in Knitting Boot Camp (KBC) was about gauge and blocking.

So, what did I learn about gauge? Knitting gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows in a given area of knitting. To obtain the correct measurements for a garment, you need to obtain the exact number of stitches and rows stated in your pattern. The needle size indicated in the pattern is the one which most knitters use to achieve this gauge with the recommended yarn. However, every knitter knits a little differently and sometimes, even the type of needles, e.g., plastic, wooden, bamboo, or metal, you use can affect your gauge. Ok, I knew that.


So, how do I know what my gauge is? Make a gauge sample starting with the needle size suggested on your yarn label or band. Cast on enough stitches to work a sample at least 5 inches in width. For my samples I cast on 20 stitches and worked in pattern for 5 inches. I made four swatches, stockinette,  garter, 2x2 rib, and a seed stitch. I know that some knitting experts tell you not to bind off or measure while the swatch is still on the needles because your stitches can become distorted. Don’t tell anyone but we did bind off and blocked our swatches before measuring. (Don’t report us, please!)

For our stitch gauge, we used a ruler (not a measuring tape) and align it along the left side of a column of stitches in the center portion of your gauge sample. Measure horizontally across by counting the number of stitches across two (if counting two inches you have to double the stitch count) or four inches. Is the number of stitches per inch exactly the same as the stitch gauge specified in your pattern instructions?

For your row gauge, (have never heard of that) we counted the number of rows along two (double again) or four inches vertically down the center of our swatch. Typically, obtaining your row gauge is less important than obtaining the exact stitch gauge since lengthwise portion of garments are usually given as a measurement.

Is your gauge off? What to do?

If you have more stitches than your pattern instructions require then, your knitting is too tight and you need to adjust to larger sized needles. You should work another gauge swatch using the larger sized needles and take another measurement.

If you have fewer stitches than your pattern instructions require then, your knitting is too loose and you need to adjust to smaller sized needles. Again, you should work another gauge swatch using the smaller sized needles and take another measurement.

Keep adjusting your needle size until you’ve achieved the gauge specified in your pattern instructions. In general, changing your needle by 2 sizes adjusts your gauge by 1 stitch. When you’ve obtained the gauge specified in your pattern instructions, write down your needle size you used for reference.

( I got my images from the Internet because my pics look like crap)

Monday, March 5, 2012


What should you do when you want to take your knitting to the next level? Enroll in Knitting Boot Camp! Knitting Boot Camp (KBC) is a swatch-based workshop where knitters can gain hands-on experience to improve your knitting skills. Well, I couldn’t wait to join. One of the things that I like about the workshop is that it is not for beginners but for advanced beginners or intermediate knitters (I believe that I’m at the intermediate level). The workshop covers casting on and binding off, increases, decreases, seams, pockets, buttonholes, tension gauge, short rows, fitting garments, reading patterns, and more. The curriculum was written by Joan M. Sheridan.
Know I know how to do and have done all of the things that I listed above but just because I know how to do them doesn’t mean that I truly understand them. I can read and follow a pattern or chart but I want to understand why the pattern is written that way it is or how to change it if I want. I also want to start writing my own patterns.
The workshop’s goals are:
·         for participants to build their very own swatch library
·         for participants to become confident knitters
·         for participants to learn to read their knitting
·         for participants to to be able to make better decisions when reading patterns
For each lesson there is homework! Yes, homework. The homework that I had to do before lesson one were four basic swatches. We will be using these swatches in lesson one.



I know that I’m a blogger that is not consistent with my posting but I want to share my progress with those who want to read about them. I’ll see you next week.

Did I mention that I got this sweet knitting bag from my LYS? Score!!