Checking gauge and how to count stitches... I know..its a silly one!

Hi I am very new to knitting. I am going to attempt to make a scarf. I am following a pattern. The gauge states 26 sts = 4 inches, 20 rows = 4 inches. I want to check my gauge first.

To begin the scarf it says to cast on 38 sts. Ok where should I start? Do I go ahead at cast on 26 sts , and measure it to see if it is 4 inches? Then do I keep adding rows to it until I get 20 rows then measure it to see if it is a 4in square? Then do I start all over an begin the project from scratch if the guage matches the pattern? Or can I use what I have already made? I cant use what I have already made right, because to begin the scarf it said to cast on 38 sts and if I checked my gauge first I only casted 26 stitches.

Does this make sense? I’m sure I’m making this harder that what it is.

One more silly question. When I count the casted stitches…what am I counting? Am I counting the loops attached to the needle? Or the stitches under the needle…those seem hard count, since it looks a little messy.

Thanks for your time.

The edge stitches can skew your gauge when you’re trying to measure it. What I usually do is add a garter stitch border to my gauge swatch to make it easier to measure. If you knit about 6 rows of garter stitch and put a border of 4 or 5 stitches on either side of your 26 stitches, you can easily measure those 26 stitches.

But since you already knit some, you can use that. All you need to do is count of 26 stitches across. One trick I’ve learned is to put a straight pin down the center of one stitch, then count your 26 stitches, and then place another pin. This helps you to keep track of where to measure.

Also, measuring gauge is really important, and this is good practice, if it’s a bit off for your scarf, I wouldn’t worry about it, because it will still “fit”. :slight_smile:


Sorry I missed your other question.

You count the loops on your needle, but when you are going to measure gauge, make sure your knitting is spaced out evenly, or you might get a wrong gauge. When you make gauge swatches in the future, you might want to bind off before measuring, but it’s not an absolute necessity.

For a scarf, gauge isn’t all that important unless you’re using yarn that’s a lot different thickness from what’s in the pattern which may make it quite a bit wider or narrower. Just go ahead and CO 38 and start the scarf. After you’ve knit a few inches, you can measure 26 sts across the center stitches.

Measuring the stitches that are on your needle is difficult because they might be squished together or stretched out. You can mark off 5 sts in from the edge, count 26 sts along the needle and mark that point. Then drop down several rows and put straight pins in the knitting below where you’ve marked it off on your needle and measure between the pins.

But as I said, for a scarf gauge isn’t as important, so if your 26 sts are a little over or a little less, it’s okay for this project. As long as you’re happy with the overall width of the scarf.

Thanks ladies for your time. Ok let me see if I got this clear. I just go ahead and start knitting casting on 38 sts and follow the pattern, until I complete a few rows (at least 4inches worth) then stop, pin it down and measure to check my gauge. Not counting the edges but measuring somewhere in the middle to get a more accurate count. If I am close to what my gauge should be…then continue with the scarf? So I use what I knitted for my gauge as part of my scarf…I mean after confirming my gauge I DONT put it aside and start all over from scratch with new yarn? Does that make sense? What I have used for my gauge is the start of my scarf, on other words?


Yep, you can start your scarf and use it to measure your gauge, and if you’re pretty close, just keep going.

If it’s quite a bit off, you may want to try a different size needle, mainly because you may not end up with enough yarn. (Unless you’re using yarn that doesn’t have a dye lot. In that case, you could just buy more if you run out.)

If doing a larger piece, you would only need to cast on a few sts more than the gauge calls for and measure to see if you got the same gauge, then start over. But a scarf doesn’t have to be fitted unlike a hat or sweater, so it really doesn’t matter if your gauge isn’t exact and you can just keep knitting. If it turns out to be really off, then you may have to start over again with adjustments.

Seems like a pain to have to start over if the gauge is way off…lol. I guess with experience you tend to usually get it right the first time.

Thanks ladies!

Well if you’ve only knit a couplethree inches, it’s not so bad if you have to start over. But usually in a scarf the gauge isn’t as important, so if you’re off a little, it shouldn’t be a problem.