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How to Measure Gauge in Knitting

Learn how to measure gauge in this knitting tutorial from Howcast.


Almost every pattern talks about getting the right gauge. It's really important to understand what 'gauge' means, so in this video I'm going to tell you a little bit about what gauge is and then actually show you how to find it yourself using a few simple tools.

Depending on what size yarn and what size needle you are getting, you're making different sized loops and the number of stitches per inch that you are making is your gauge. So, if you are using a really fine yarn like this fingering weight yarn, I'm getting somewhere around seven and a half or eight stitches to the inch on this I think. Whereas a huge bulky yarn like this, I'm getting about two stitches to the inch. There's a huge difference in, if a pattern says to cast on 30 stitches, with this yarn you would get something much different, than if you cast on 30 stitches with this yarn.

That seems like a really obvious example but when you get down to the finer things, like fractions of stitches per inch, it really does make a difference in how your garment fits.

So, you're going to use this little thing called a 'knit check'. This is one example of something you can use to measure gauge. In a pinch, you could just use a ruler but lots of different companies make different versions of this. However, I find this one to be the more readily available and the cheaper version, just this little metal one.

It has a window here to measure your stitch gauge and your row gauge. I'm going to be showing you how to measure your stitch gauge because that is the most important thing I do. This is the most important measurement to get, before you worry about getting this.

So what you are going to do is you are going to have your knitted sample. For example, if I wanted to make this hat, the responsible thing to do to get a great fitting hat would be to knit a little swatch first. So I would use the stitch pattern that's called for in the hat and I would make a tiny sample and I would measure that.

So here I am placing the knit check with the little window over a clear row of stitches the first thing I am going to do is I'm going to line up this left hand row with the edge of one row of stitches. You can see I'm pushing it down to highlight that this little column here is one column of stitches. So that's a great use for this left hand side, is to line up with the stitch.

Now I'm going to be looking down here. I'm going to count the number of stitches that I can see in this two inch window. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. It's just a touch under eight. So I'm going to say that I - I'm going to estimate and say that I'm getting four stitches to the inch with this yarn. So that would help me know if I wanted to cast on a child's hat that was 20 inches around. If I was getting four stitches to the inch, then I would want to cast on 80 stitches to fit that child's head.

So that's just an example of how to find your gauge and do a simple gauge calculation to find out how many stitches per inch you need to get for the yarn that you are using. And when you start using a different yarn or a different needle combination, always make a swatch and check your gauge again, because it can change.

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