Felting a gauge swatch

I have a pattern to make a pair of felted bunny slippers. Tonight I decided to start working through the gauge and make some swatches.
The pattern says for the gauge to “work 12 stitches and 16 rows to measure 4x4” in stockinette stitch using US 11 needles with DK wool held doubled."

So I casted on 12 and knit 16 rows. It didn’t come close to 4 inches. I watched a video about how to do gauge, it wasn’t very helpful but it said that if you are going to be felting your project then you have to felt your gauge swatch and then measure the gauge. Is that true? It didn’t say anything about this in the pattern I have. I’m really confused with this. I even used size 15 needles but that didn’t come to 4x4 either.

Can someone please explain, step by step, what I have to do?

Did you have 2 strands of the yarn like it says to? I believe the gauge for felting gives it before felting and I think that is what your gauge is for. Sometimes, perhaps, they give before and after gauge, but the patterns I’ve seen only give a before felting gauge. Knitting that is to be felted is supposed to be worked very loosely. But that having been said, different wools give different results when they are felted, so unless you use the very wool the pattern suggests it may not felt to size. But…felting can be watched and you can stop felting or felt more to vary the size.

If I were you I’d make sure I have the right weight yarn to start with and then hold 2 strands to knit with. I would also cast on a few more than 12, 18 might be plenty, but the edges tend to not measure accurately so you want more than just 12. Then measure a section off in the middle of what you knit. Measure off 4" and count how many stitches you have in that 4".

To measure a gauge swatch right, you need more sts than it says; for this one cast on about 16-20 sts and measure over the middle 4". You’re trying to determine how many sts per inch, not make a 4" square. The edge sts are different and curl under so shouldn’t be used to measure. The 2 strands of DK would be bulky weight yarn so you could sub that instead.

I think the easiest way to make a swatch is to cast on 26 stitches, knit for 3 rows, then keep the first and last 3 stitches in garter stitch while doing stockinette on the middle 20… for about 20ish rows, then 3 more rows of plain garter. Then, you measure how wide the middle 20 stitches are, and divide 20 (your number of stitches) by the width, to get your gauge.

In theory, your 20 stitches could be 30 or 50 or whatever, as long as you divide the number of stitches by the width (and you’ll need to know the decimals for fractions…for instance if your measurement is 3 and 7/8ths of an inch, you would divide by 3.875).

As long as your measurement is accurate, you will be able to determine gauge.

ALSO, if the pattern tells you to felt your gauge swatch, then you should… if it doesn’t, assume the measurement is unfelted.

You CAN measure guage on a felted swatch, but you’d have to do some pre-planning before felting. The felting process will/should eliminate the stitch definition, and then you wouldn’t be able to count the stitches. You’d need to mark off a square of x number of stitches by tying a contrasting non-feltable yarn to the swatch (cotton, acrylic, something non-animal fiber); then felt, and measure the distance between the markers.