Swatching and measuring gauge
Take time to swatch for gauge. Knitting patterns have a set gauge for the stitch count and row count. Correct gauge gives the knitter results like those in the photos. Going up or down needle sizes from what's stated in the pattern is a way to affect knitting tension. Remember to work the swatch in the round since the pattern is in the round. Need help with swatching or with the gauge? I am happy to help!
How to swatch:
A minimum of 4" x 4" of interior stitch pattern bordered with a few rows or side stitches of garter stitch works best. Start by calculating how many stitches to cast on for the swatch. See the yarns label or the pattern instructions for how many stitches it takes to create 4". Example: 22 stitches. Add a minimum of 25 percent of this st count in stitches to give enough space to measure. Use some of these extra stitches to create a garter stitch edge on each side of the pattern stitches. Make a bottom garter stitch border of about five rows. Work the stitch pattern with the garter stitch edges until the piece measures at least 4" in rows. (Swatching in the round: Knit across to end of row. Slide the stitches down the needle to the other end. Float the yarn across the wrong side of the work, taking care that the float is long enough for the swatch to lay flat without the sides pulling in.) Finish the swatch with several rows of garter stitch, bind off loosely and cut the yarn. Slightly dampen the swatch, and pin onto a surface. Take care that the rows and st columns are straight. Let dry. Take measurements after blocking!
Place a ruler along a straight row and count how many stitches there are within 4". If half a stitch is within the 4", make sure to count it! Example: 22 stitches and one half. Use 22.5 stitches in the calculations. Measure at least two different rows up the swatch and calculate the average of stitches per 4". Example: 3 rows measured. Bottom, middle and close to the top of the swatch. 22.5 stitches, 24 stitches, and 23 stitches. Add these numbers together and divide the total by 3. The average stitch count per 4" is 23.1 stitches per 4", so round down to 23 stitches. Measure the stitch columns the same way to calculate how many rows fit in 4". Compare these numbers to the pattern gauge. Do they correlate?
- If your gauge has fewer stitches than the gauge in the pattern, try swatching again with smaller needles.
- If your gauge has more stitches than the gauge in the pattern, try swatching again with larger needles. Once the gauge is exact or extremely close, start the pattern!