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Pattern Abbreviations and Knitting Gauge
with bekathwia

Hey hot-shot, you've got your basics down! With this knowledge, you can make a lot of things! In this lesson, you'll be introduced to common knitting terminology used in patterns, and learn to make garments fit properly by measuring and adjusting the gauge of your knitting. With this info, you'll be able to follow knitting patterns you find in books and online! Additional terms are defined in the Knitting Glossary for this class.


Knitting Pattern Abbreviations

You'll find terms abbreviated in knitting patterns very frequently. The patterns turn out looking like some kind of cryptic message, but not once you know what the abbreviations mean!

Abbreviations for things you've already used:

  • co - cast on
  • K - knit
  • P - purl
  • st(s) - stitches
  • bind off - also called "cast off"
  • in - inches
  • cm - centimeters
  • mm - millimeters
  • oz - ounces
  • g - grams

Abbreviations used to complete the rest of the projects in this class (you haven't learned all of them yet):

  • alt - alternate
  • beg - beginning
  • DPN(s) - double pointed needle(s)
  • pat - pattern
  • rem - remain(ing)
  • rep - repeat
  • rnd(s) - round(s)
  • dec - decrease
  • tog - together
  • k2tog - knit two together (decrease)
  • p2tog - purl two together (decrease)
  • PM - place marker
  • SM - slip marker
  • st st - stockinette stitch
  • ssk - slip two knitwise, pass back to left needle and knit together through back loops (decrease)
  • m1 - make one stitch (increase)

Establishing Gauge

Yarn gauge is a funny thing (called "tension" in the UK and Canada). It's dependent on three main variables: yarn size, needle size, and how tightly you knit. That third one varies from person to person, which is why it's important to have a target gauge (tension) when creating a project. Without it, your hat or mittens may turn out too big or two small, even if you followed the pattern exactly!

A dedicated gauge checker is a handy tool, but not strictly necessary. Instead you can use any ruler or tape measure. You'll also need a sample swatch of work on your target sized needles.

To create the swatch, read the pattern's description of your target gauge. For instance, it might say "17 stitches and 23 rows = 10cms square in st st" or "4.5 stitches/6 rows per inch." Cast on four more stitches than described, and then purl all stitches in the first row. Knit all stitches in the second row. Alternate purl and knit rows. This is called stockinette stitch (also called stocking stitch), and it might look familiar if you've ever looked closely at the fabric of your t-shirts or hosiery. Create four more rows than described in your pattern's target gauge, then bind off. It's important that the stitches are off the needles to get an accurate measurement.

Set your measuring device across the inner stitches (each stitch looks like a V) to calculate your gauge. If it doesn't match your pattern, the project won't turn out the right size-- go up a needle size if stitches per unit are higher than target, and go down a needle size if the stitches per unit are too low.

This might seem like a lot of work, but it's not a waste! Taking time now will guarantee a proper fit later. Label your swatches and store them with your yarn so you can save this step on future projects made with that yarn.


Quiz

{
    "id": "quiz-1",
    "question": "Your gauge is off from what the pattern describes. What do you do?",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "change the needle size",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "knit in garter stitch",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "adjust your yarn tension",
            "correct": false
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct!",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect. Gauge refers to stitches per unit measure, and varies based on needle size, fiber size, and your unique yarn tension."
}
{
    "id": "quiz-2",
    "question": "The small sample used to establish gauge is called a:",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "swath",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "swatch",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "switch",
            "correct": false
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct!",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect. The correct answer is swatch."
}
{
    "id": "quiz-3",
    "question": "When knitting a sample for establishing gauge, the alternating rows of knit stitches and purls stitches create a fabric known as:",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "garter stitch",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "stockinette stitch",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "seed stitch",
            "correct": false
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct!",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect. Stockinette stitch is used for swatches."
}

CLASS PROJECT

Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project