Introduction: How to Make, & Measure a Knitting Gauge Swatch!

Picture of How to Make, & Measure a Knitting Gauge Swatch!

If making a gauge swatch before a project puts you in a panic…don’t worry, gauge is your friend! It will help you make all your knit projects the right size!

Simply put…a gauge swatch is a square you knit, so that you can measure your stitches, that’s it!

You might have seen a gauge requirement listed on patterns…this is very important! Every Knitter has their own style, and yarn tension. A gauge swatch lets you check if your stitches match up to the pattern’s gauge. If not, then you can correct it by going up or down a needle/hook size.

Different needle/hook sizes & yarn will give you smaller or bigger stitches = giving you a different stitch count depending on what you are using.

Did you ever make a knit project, only to find out that it was too small…or way too big?!

Making a gauge swatch will prevent this, and never again will you have to “frog“(rip out) a project and start over!

I would love to show you just how easy making one can be! You can watch the video above, or see the step by step photo tutorial as well.

Like the crochet hook used in this tutorial? Get your own customizable hook here!

Step 1: How to Start, and What You'll Need

Picture of How to Start, and What You'll Need

To make a knit gauge swatch, begin by checking what the pattern you are following requires for gauge. For example let’s say the pattern requires Super Bulky weight yarn & the gauge reads: 10 stitches = 4 inches on US13 needles in stockinette stitch… Then you want to start using US13 knitting needles & Super Bulky yarn…and knit your swatch in stockinette stitch. This will give you a starting point to begin measuring.

You'll need a ruler and 2 pins.

Cast on enough stitches to make at least a 6″ x 6″ square or bigger. You don’t want to make it too small, because you won’t have enough space to get an accurate measurement. Work enough rows until it is at least 6″ tall from cast on edge. Bind off & get ready to measure!

Step 2: We Are Going to Measure Stitches & Rows. Let’s Start With Stitches

Picture of We Are Going to Measure Stitches & Rows.  Let’s Start With Stitches

Find the outer edge of the first stitch you want to measure by.

Step 3: Place the Beginning of Your Ruler Measurement at the Outer Edge of the First Stitch

Picture of Place the Beginning of Your Ruler Measurement at the Outer Edge of the First Stitch

Step 4: Place a Pin at the Beginning Mark of Ruler and Outer Edge of Stitch

Picture of Place a Pin at the Beginning Mark of Ruler and Outer Edge of Stitch

Step 5: Now, Holding Your Ruler in Place, Place a Pin at the 4″ Measurement

Picture of Now, Holding Your Ruler in Place, Place a Pin at the 4″ Measurement

You can measure at the 1 inch or 2 inch mark, but I feel like measuring at 4″ gives me a bigger & more accurate area to measure.

Step 6: ​Remove Your Ruler and Count How Many Stitches You Have Between the Pins

Picture of ​Remove Your Ruler and Count How Many Stitches You Have Between the Pins

This will tell you how many stitches you get in a 4″ measurement.

(10 stitches = 4 inches on US13 knitting needles in stockinette stitch)

Step 7: Now Let's Measure Rows

Picture of Now Let's Measure Rows

Place the beginning mark of your ruler at the top edge of the 1st stitch you want to begin measuring by.

Step 8: Place a Pin at the Top Edge of This Stitch and at Beginning Measurement on Ruler

Picture of Place a Pin at the Top Edge of This Stitch and at Beginning Measurement on Ruler

Step 9: Holding Your Ruler, Place a Pin at the 4″ Measurement

Picture of Holding Your Ruler, Place a Pin at the 4″ Measurement

Step 10: Count the Number of Rows You Have Between the Pins

Picture of Count the Number of Rows You Have Between the Pins

(14 rows = 4 inches on US13 knitting needles in stockinette stitch)

Step 11: What If Your Gauge Doesn't Match Your Pattern?!

Picture of What If Your Gauge Doesn't Match Your Pattern?!

Not to worry!
If you got more stitches than what the pattern’s gauge called for…that means your yarn tension is tighter than what is necessary. Go to a larger size needle/hook and make another swatch. Check your gauge again, and if you still get more stitches, keep going up in needle/hook size until the swatch you make reads as close as possible to the gauge required.

If you get less stitches…then your yarn tension is looser than the pattern’s required gauge. Go to a smaller needle/hook size and make another swatch. Measure your swatch again, and if you are still getting less stitches, keep going down a needle/hook size until your swatch measures as closely as possible to the gauge required.

I hope this helps makes sense of what a gauge swatch is and why it is used! And, don’t worry about having to spend time making one…they go by quickly when watching your favorite series!

Happy Gauge Making!

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Bio: Creatiknit.com ♥ Knit & Crochet designer ♥ Blogger ♥ Mom ♥ Tea drinker with a flair for all things whimsical & woodland ♥ Hi, I'm Angela, and I am the ... More »
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