The Importance of Learning to Knit a Gauge Square for Correct Size

Essential to knitting items that fit, learn how to knit a gauge swatch

When you are first learning to knit, one of the most important things you need to learn is how to knit a gauge square. Until you do, you will never know what size your finished project will be. So what is a gauge square and how do you knit one? Knitting a gauge square is the key to getting the correct size for your projects. Ever put a lot of work into knitting a sweater or other garment that needs to fit, only to find that it is two sizes too small when finished? Then you understand the gauge square’s importance.

Everyone’s knitting tension is a little different and the tension multiplies with every stitch. The tension is affected by the way you hold the yarn and needles, the type of yarn you use, the size of your needles and the pattern of the stitches.

You’ll find that most patterns have instructions for measuring your gauge or tension. The instructions tell you what size needles to use and what type of yarn should be used to get the desired results. But, don’t think that just because you use the right sized needles and the correct yarn that your project will be the right size.

Remember, you need to take into consideration how tight or loose you make your stitches. I tend to knit very tightly, while some of my friends knit quite loosely.

To knit a gauge square, use your planned yarn, needles and stitch pattern and work a swatch that is at least a 5″ square. Measure 4″ across the middle of the swatch and mark with pins. Count the number of stitches between the two pins. Repeat this process vertically, counting the number of rows.

Now compare your results with the gauge instructions to see how close you are to getting the right size. If you have more rows or stitches in the 4″ area, it means that your gauge is too firm. To correct this, use a larger set of needles and test another swatch.

If you have less rows or stitches in the 4″ area, it means your gauge or tension is too loose. Change to a smaller set of needles and stitch another gauge swatch.

This might seem like a pain, but trust me. It isn’t nearly as painful as completing an entire project and finding that it is too small, and you have no choice but to give it away to a 5-year-old.

When you’re first learning to knit, doing things like this seem tedious, but it is well worth the effort of learning the right way.