I'm totally baffled by gauge

This happens every single time I start a major project. First of all, fo the life of me, I do not understand why my swatch needs to be 4x4 inches. Four inches wide, sure, my sides curl, i may have a little uneven tension, whatever. But why 4 inches tall? Can’t I get a good idea in 2-3 inches? unless row gauge is important, which is usually isn’t.

And here’s the thing making me nuts! :wall: How is it humanly possible to knit the same exact yarn on an 8, 9, and 10 and get more or less the same gauge every time (as in less than a half inch difference)? The stitches look tighter/smaller on the 8, and feel drapier on the 10, but they measure more or less the same? I’m supposed to get 4.5 stitches to the inch. I got 5, possibly a little more on the 8’s. Five for sure on the 9’s. Five on the 10’s. If I go up to 10.5’s, I think it won’t feel sturdy enough for a sweater. This is a worsted weight, btw, the label suggests 4.5-5 stitches to the inch on 6-9’s. :??

unless row gauge is important, which is usually isn’t.

…well, it’s very important, if you want your sweater to fit and not be a potato sack.

Knitting tends to even its tension out after you have knitted quite a few rows, so i usually make my guage swatches 15 x 15 and measure the inner 10 x 10 section… if this doesn’t match up with the recommended guage of the pattern, then you change you needle sizes up or down depending on whether your knitting was looser or tighter.

How is it humanly possible to knit the same exact yarn on an 8, 9, and 10 and get more or less the same gauge every time (as in less than a half inch difference)?

in my experience, it isn’t really… if you were doing a ‘proper’ size swatch you might notice more of a difference - and if you multiply a half an inch by the number of stitches required for the sweater, you might find it makes a huge difference in size by the end - hence potato sack!

4.5 stitches to the inch will equal 22.2 inches over 100 stitches.
5 stitches to the inch will equal 20 inches over 100 stitches.

So a half a stitch does make a difference. :shrug:

I don’t think I’ve ever made a gauge swatch longer than a couple of inches, sacreligious as that may be. You should, however, make one wider than 4 inches so you can measure the stitches between the edges and not include the edge stitches in your count.

By row gauge, I mean number of rows/inch, not stitches/inch. Usually not as important because they rarely tell you to knit 27 rows, they just say knit until it measure 17’’, kwim? As far as stitches/inch, this is why I’m going crazy! I know from experience that if i’m using a new yarn (my old standbys I have figured out) I will have a gauge nightmare if I make a mistake.

And I meant to say less than half a stitch difference! What is going on?

I guess i should try again with the size 10 needles, and knit a 4x4 swatch…sigh.

I agree–row gauge is usually irrelevant–which is why I don’t go the entire 4 inches. Stitch gauge, however, is tricker–half a stitch can make a difference in the overall pattern. I’m like you with old standbys, but with new yarns I knit a couple of inches and then measure again when I start the pattern.

Yeah, I think this is probably the best bet. I’m amkign a larger swatch, more like 5x5 and then if it seems about right, I’ll cast on and keep my fingers crossed, lol.

Thanks for your help!

I’m with you on the gauge problem. Although, I did figure out that the height of the stitch does make a difference as well. I just finished the sweater bag I’ve been working on for quite some time (I’m still kind of new at this), and it’s GIGANTIC!!! I had to go up two or three needle sizes to get my horizontal gauge right, but my stitches must have loosened up over the course of the project because the darned thing is so tall that it could almost be an overnight bag. :pout:

Hang in there! I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it sooner or later!!!

I’ve found too that going up or down a needle size generally doesn’t affect the stitch gauge that much, but may make the stitches longer, affecting row gauge. But since I’ve always knit patterns by inches I don’t pay a lot of attention. If I run into a pattern that says to knit for x rows, I figure out how much that is in inches and knit accordingly.


Unfortunately, for me, my pattern was a cable pattern that would have been difficult to cut short…especially being so new at this. Someone more experienced would have known what to do.

The bag is hanging in the closet. Who knows, if I ever need Wool-Ease, I could always unravel it. :frog: