Gauge issues


Seriously, am I the only knitter in the world that can never achieve the proper gauge? Using the suggested needle size, I can usually get the stitches per inch just fine, but rows per inch, I can be as much as 7 rows off. The swatch I just completed is supposed to be 18 STS., 28 rows for 4 inches. I have the 18 stitches, but only 21 rows. I don’t see how changing needle size is going to help me. Any suggestions?


Everyone is different. The gauge in the patterns are done by master knitters. They go through a lot of training and their gauge is perfect. Not like mine. Gauge is important in fitted things like hats, mittens, and sweaters. Not so much for blankets, dish towels, or scarves so don’t sweat those. I know the mistake I made as a beginning knitter was to substitute a different yarn than what was called for in the pattern and expecting something to fit. Or worse yet, just cast on with the recommended needle and hope for the best. I’ll admit, I’m lazy and don’t like to do a swatch. As you get more experienced, you will have your favorite yarn, favorite needle sizes, and favorite tried and true patterns. In the meantime, get a scrap ball of yarn and your favorite needles and just practice your tension. Knit the stockinette stitch over and over. Tear it out, wind the ball back up, and do it again. Practice makes perfect. I often do this to practice a new technique or to perfect a short row sock heel. It does help.


I should add that it’s advisable to knit the pattern with the same yarn or type. You will get different gauge with cotton, acrylic, and wool. Not everyone can afford $50 a skein. But you can substitute something similar. It depends on availability in your area. For me, the only yarn shop in town closed. I’m having to buy from the chain hobby stores or online. I can’t always see it. Read the labels but beware of certain types. Red Heart and Caron Simply Soft both are listed on the label as a #4 worsted weight. However, Caron SS is thinner. I would say it’s more like a #3 sport weight. Which means you would have to cast on more stitches and adjust the pattern. Some are listed as “light worsted weight”, whatever that is. Maybe the moderators can explain to me why this is. Type of yarn will affect gauge big time.


You’re not alone, Mississuz. I very seldom get row gauge on my swatches. For most patterns, it doesn’t matter since since the length of the knitted piece is often given in inches or cm rather than rows. Even if a number or rows is specified you can use the pattern’s row gauge to convert that to a length measurement.
The only instances I can think of where row gauge is important is in raglan sweaters or in sweaters knit side to side. In side to side sweaters, row gauge determines the width and becomes more important than stitch gauge.


No, you are most definitely not alone! I’m going through a most aggravating spell where I can’t seem to get SPI gauge for anything!


You might try using a different material needle to acheive row gauge. Metal, wood, bamboo…can effect your row gauge. So does the way you pull your yarn; from the outside or inside of the skein/ball


Good you brought up the # issue; so many people don’t realize that. I think someone (Craft Yarn Council) decided to make things “simple” by having only a few categories. (Then I believe they had to add more as bulkier yarns became popular. :wink: ) I always look at the chart on Ravelry for yarns; it gives you more categories, and detail to compare against. Specific detailed suggestions for yarn substitution can be found at (You don’t need to subscribe to use the site; you can go directly to their different topics for info. And they’ll automatically come up frequently if you just run a search for comparable yarns for whatever yarn you’re using.) You may want to look at for some detail about yarn weights, too.


Thank you, all, for your responses!


I am with you! I usually adjust the number of rows or avoid some patterns/garments. My biggest problem is that my gauge can be spot on but the finished item is way off. That’s very frustrating. I just crocheted a cardigan for myself and am adding a shawl collar to make it wide enough. Very frustrating to make something that doesn’t turn out correctly!