Are gauge rows so important?

Good morning everyone!
As I’m new to the site, I’m not sure if this is the right forum for my question, so please let me know if I’m wrong.
I have just started a new Icelandic Lopi sweater, but my gauge is miles out with regard to the rows. It should be 13st x 18 rows per 4x4 inch on 6 mm in Alafoss Lopi. I have the exact wool from the company and pattern on 6 mm needles, but my gauge (which looks fine to me) comes out at 13st x 13 rows. As it is already reasonably tightly knit, I can’t see how I could possibly squeeze 5 more rows in unless I knit it incredibly tightly. I checked out some more Lopi patterns and most of them also give 13x18 as the gauge. Does anyone have any advice? As my stitch count is spot on, should I just go ahead with it and see what happens? The first fair isle jumper I did knit up in just a few days (I skipped the gauge and it came out a little tight, but blocked okay), so it wouldn’t be the end of the world to frog it and start again, or should I drop down a needle size to get more rows and risk messing up the correct stitch count? A couple of blog articles I have read say that the stitches per inch are much more important for sizing than the rows. Before I do anything else, I thought I’d ask the experts. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance,

ravelry’s page on the yarn ( lists the recommended needles as either 10 or 10.5 US (6 or 6.5 mm)… so you might try using 6.5 mm instead, which shouldn’t affect your stitches per inch, but could help with your rows per inch. a gauge swatch would be helpful…

ETA, you might even consider swatching with 7 mm, just to see how that affects your stitches per inch and rows per inch. as a tight knitter myself, i’m often going up 1, 2, even 3 sizes in needles on patterns.

Thanks for your quick reply! Would choosing a larger needle not result in even fewer lines per inch though? I thought (maybe incorrectly) I would need to drop sizes for the row height to decrease and fit more rows in the same space. My problem is that I have too few rows compared with the recommended gauge. I was thinking of doing a second swatch in 5 mm or 5.5 mm.

Yes - you would want to try some smaller needles to see if you can get closer to row gauge without impacting stitch gauge too much. That is way off on rows. Can we assume you’re making a large gauge swatch, washed and blocked it before measuring or are you just knitting a few rounds and measuring? Since these sweaters are bottom up as a general rule, it’s a great place for a sleeve to serve as your swatch.

Row gauge isn’t always that important as many patterns these days give dimensions to knit instead of rows - knit for 2" rather than 10 rounds, for example. However, the top of your sweater is a potential issue. The same number of rows at 18 rows per inch would give you 8" of yoke, but at 13rpi would give you 11". Altering for the new gauge would drastically change your increase rate, not to mention requiring changes to the fair isle patterning.

Thank you for your reply too, Lewister. I made a swatch with 30 stitches over 25 rows and then took my 4x4 measurements from the centre of the piece to avoid the effect of bunching at the cast ons/offs and the edges. I haven’t washed or blocked it yet as it was clear to me straightaway that I had far too many rows for the specified size and I don’t think it would help that much. I think I’ll undo it and try again with 5.5 mm needles (and maybe even 5 mm) to see if I can get closer to it. As you mentioned, the instructions for the body of the jumper and the sleeves are “knit until piece measures X cm”, but the yoke pattern is based on rows, so that might turn out to be a problem.
Thanks again for your advice. Wish me luck :slight_smile:

Welcome to KnittingHelp!
The smaller needles are worth a try. You can even continue the current swatch by marking the point where you switched needles with a few purl sts and continuing to knit.
What Lopi pattern are you making? If you can’t get closer to the given row.gauge without throwing off the stitch gauge, you can modify the yoke decreases to fit into the necessary measurement.

Isn’t it really unusual in stockinette to get the same number of stitches and rows per inch? Maybe I’m misreading something. I always have more rows per inch than stitches.

All I can think is, check for errata.

Thank you all for your comments. I ended up being busy this evening so I haven’t got any further with the project, but when I got in from work, after spending most of the day researching instead of working, I did make a discovery: I thought it was really strange to have a 1:1 stitch/ratio too, so I decided to re-count. There is a chance looks sheepish that I may have misread the tape measure I had handy last night and the swatch I have is actually 13x16, which, although not correct, is still much closer to what I should be aiming for. I did check multiple times last night, but must have been reading off the wrong mark. I have also studied the wrong side of the work a bit and have noticed that some of my purl rows are not quite as even as my knit rows. The jumper will be knit in the round, so it will all be knit rows and if I intentionally work a little tighter than usual that might give me the 0.5 rows per inch. As tomorrow is a holiday here in Germany, I have decided to do a 5.5-needle swatch tomorrow anyway and see if that gets me where I need to be, but otherwise I might just stick to the 6 mm and learn to read the tape measure properly.

Just for info: I am working on órói, pg 179 in Knitting with Icelandic Wool. I have a couple of the patterns in the book lined up, and this is my least favourite, which is why I chose it as my starter project. If necessary, I’m sure I could tweak the yoke pattern a bit, but I’m also tall, so it might even work out fine to have a little extra length :wink:

P.S. The tip about switching needles mid-swatch is a great idea for next time. This time I have already cast off, so it’s just as simple to restart, but I’ll bear it in mind. Have a good day, everyone!

That all sounds much better. One thing though, don’t try to intentionally knit tighter. Inevitably you’ll relax as you knit and forget to hold a bit more tension. Oh, one more thing to try is to knit your swatch in the round so that you measure only knit sts. There are directions for an easy way to do this on the Free Videos tab at the top of the page, under Getting Started.

Thanks, Salmonmac! I did a new swatch in 5.5 this morning and it turned out (knit tightly) as 15x20, so I think if I work that at my normal tension it should be okay and even out the difference. I think i might start with a sleeve as well to make sure. I had a look at the circular video too and it seems like a good plan. I had considered that but the dangling loops at the back put me off initially.

Glad you got it figured out! :cheering: