New Here and Have Gauge Question


Hello Everyone,

I’m new to the forum and somewhat new to knitting (have only been doing so since mid-September). That being said, I knit three projects last month: a scarf, a hat, and a shawl/afghan combo (all out of Estelle Woolly Bully yarn- thick and thin yarn for those unfamiliar with it). Anyhow, the hat turned out okay, but is a bit loose on me, likely because I did not measure the gauge correctly. I am now planning on trying to knit a simple tank top. Its gauge is: 16 st. and 22 rows (to make a 4x4 in square). Here is the thing, though: I’ve never performed the vertical measure before. Why? Because my knitting instructor told me it was not necessary.

Yes, that is correct. The instructor who gave the knitting class I attended has been knitting for many decades, and she told me that only the horizontal measure is crucial when measuring gauge. She also seemed to have no issue with measuring from the edge. But again, here too, I’m not sure on is suppose to measure edge stitches, because they are distorted (stitches in the middle of the fabric are less so).

So what I’d like to know are these things:

  1. Should I go against my instructor’s advice and do a vertical measure when making a gauge swatch? What does the vertical measure achieve, exactly? I can understand the horizontal measure, but not the vertical one. That being said, everything else I read says to measure vertically as well as horizontally.

  2. Is it bad to measure from the edge when measuring gauge? I watched an informative vid on youtube from theknitwitch on this topic, and she said not to measure from the edge, as these edges are distorted, and your measurement is less accurate. Makes sense to me.

  3. What should you do if your 4x4 square ends up containing a couple less rows than the pattern recommends? How problematic is this, and how would you adjust for this? This is a case where the horizontal measure is the required four inches.

Also, I may be encountering some issues because I picked a yarn that has a gauge different from the one my pattern suggests. I imagine one can make some type of adjustment for this. Suggested gauge on the yarn is: 18 st., 26 rows on a 5 mm needle (I’m Canadian, don’t know what U.S. size this is). My instructor felt this should be no problem. And when I was only doing the horizontal measure, I could see how I could adjust. But if I must do the vertical measure after all, than this will create some confusion to my somewhat novice-like brain.

Sorry for the very long first post. Any insights anyone could give would be great. Hope to get to know all of you as well.

Best Wishes,



just quickly, sorry, have to rush a bit.

  • do not measure the edge stitches, knit your swatch wider and measure some out of the middle. More acurate, you are right.

  • the vertical is much less important.
    when you try to achive gauge, you change yarns and needle sizes if necessary to get to the desired stitch count. Hardly ever then you get the desired row / round count. It is good to check, but often it will fail.

Most patterns therefore do give a gauge for both, but MOST parts of the instruction concerning vertical parts are given in inch or cm, not in rows. (like: “start armhole shaping after 10 inches from the bottom” or somethin like that…) Very few patterns depend on rows alone.

so make your swatch. Measure. If you get what the pattern tells you in both directions: great. If your rows fall short or are longer, then remember by how much (10 % or 1/4 or anything like that). IF your pattern should call for a row count anywhere, you know what you have to add or substract. But that is all, really.

Knit your swatch and see if you can get close to the 16 stitches in 4 inches (18 is just written on the wrapper, that is not a definite measure of your own, just a basic idea). if you would come out with 18 stitches to the 4-inch, try needles a bit bigger (5.5 mm maybe) to come out with less stitches (because they are bigger).

You can also change the count in your pattern. Say you would have 160 stitches across in something (40 inches with 16 stitches to the 4 inch) then you would now need 180 stitches across. But that requires changes in all parts that have shaping.

On the other hand… how wide is a piece of knitting that style? a tank top? maybe 30 cm (German, metric is more my thing, you may agree…) so 16 stitches on 10 cm (the equivalent gauge to 4 inch) makes 48 stitches across. If there were 18 stitches to 10 cm now that would mean, your piece is 48 / 18 = 26,6 cm wide… that can be taken into consideration. Is the fit lose enough?

with 16 stitches, every stitch is 0.625 cm wide, with 18 stitches it is 0.56 cm wide. on my example of 48 stitches that makes aproxx 3.6 cm less. But you see, due to aproximation my samples do not quite line up.

Also maybe you want to follow the instruction for a different size (one bigger) and calculate how wide the piece will be then with YOUR stitch count.

I hope, I could help! Happy knitting!


Every knitter’s tension is slightly different, so it is very unlikely that you will be able to match both the stitch gauge (horizontal) and the row gauge (vertical) that is given in your pattern. Personally, I do not worry about row gauge … I just make sure that I am getting the correct number of stitches per inch. Most patterns give directions in terms of inches anyways (eg. “knit until piece measures 5” from cast on edge"), so it won’t really matter whether it takes you more or less rows than the pattern creator to get the correct size.

I would just take the yarn that you’ve chosen and experiment with different needle sizes until you find one that gives you the same number of stitches per inch as indicated in your pattern. Keep in mind that this may be difficult if you’ve chosen a yarn that is significantly different in weight than what the pattern was designed for.

I agree with Hyperactive about measuring your swatch … I usually take my measurement from the centre of the swatch so as to not include the edge stitches since they tend to be a little looser.

Give it a shot, and if you’re having trouble be sure to post again … everyone here is really helpful! :thumbsup:


No she’s actually right. For most patterns the stitch gauge is the most important; the length is usually given in inches not rows, so you just knit to the correct length. Very few knitters get both stitch and row gauge, but the row gauge is much easier to fudge because of the measurement thing.

Theoretically your yarn should be able to make the pattern gauge, you didn’t say what size needles it takes to get the 16 sts/4", but try out the ones in the pattern and also a larger and smaller size to match that 16 sts.

Defintely cast on more sts, for your swatch on this pattern at least 20, maybe 24 because you don’t want to include the edge sts in the measurement.


Thanks for the responses everyone.

I will definitely make a larger swatch. No edge stitches to be included in measurement. Got it.

Based on what everyone has said here, it seems impossible to match stitch and row gauge. So should I not bother with row gauge at all, then.

As for needle size, it is looking like I’ll need 6.5 mm needles. A preliminary measurement pointed me in this direction, but of course, I need to take a more accurate measurement. Smaller needle sizes led to swatches smaller than 4 in. horizontally (oh- and I learned to never stretch the fabric. Good thing to know).

suzeeq, what did you mean when you said this: [COLOR=“DarkSlateBlue”]the length is usually given in inches not rows, so you just knit to the correct length.[/COLOR] Does this simply mean knit the number of inches the pattern tells you to?


Yes, a pattern will tell you at various points ‘knit for x inches’ and only rarely ‘knit for y rows’. If a length is given in rows, you can convert the rows to inches going by the pattern gauge, then knit those inches.


Okay, I am continuing to make swatches that just don’t measure up to the gauge I need. I’ve also noticed an additional problem: when I take a sample from the middle of the fabric, and then try to knit up a 4in square to see if the measurement was correct (kinda like double checking), then I realize I was completely off. I think my measurements are inaccurate because the stockinette stitch rolls up so much (esp on larger swatches), and I end up measuring on a slant (which is likely leading to inaccurate measurements).

I need to straighten my square up and have heard of something called selvage stitches. My understanding is that for the top and bottom, you do two rows of garter stitch. However, I don’t know how to knit on the sides. Am I supposed to sew fabric onto them? Slip stitches somewhere? I wasn’t taught this in knitting class so I don’t know. I did as swatch with just the top and bottom selvage stitches, and it only causes more curling :(. If anyone could tell me how you’re supposed to do the sides, or if there’s a way to measure on a smaller scale, that would be great. I am really sick of making swatches that don’t come anywhere near working out. :frowning:


Your aim is [I]not[/I] to make a 4" square, but to determine [I]how many [B]sts[/B] in 4"[/I] of knitting. It’s because the edges curl and aren’t the same size as the middle sts that you use enough sts to make a 5 or 6" piece, then measure the sts in the center. Your item isn’t going to be only 4" wide unless making a skinny scarf and you really don’t need to be on gauge for that anyway.

So yep, use about 24 sts, knit 3 or 4 rows in garter, work 3 sts at the beginning and end of the row in garter st, knit about 3" then 3 or 4 rows of garter. That will put a ‘border edge’ around all sides of it and flatten it out some. It’s also advisable to wash the swatch the same way you’re going to wash the finished item. You don’t have to cut your yarn for this in case you need to use the swatch yarn on your item. The reason for washing it is because some yarns do weird things when they get wet - grow and stretch or shrink up - so you want to know that ahead of time so you can adjust. Measure your sts before you wash them, then after to see if there’s a change.

There’s some new information and videos on gauge on the Getting Started page that may also be of help.


Hi suzeeq, thanks for the helpful advice. Washing the swatch is probably a good idea. So when you say to work 3 sts. at the beg. and end of a row in garter, that means do 3 knit sts., correct. Another thing I noticed: I tried knitting a couple of rows in garter and it made my stockinette stitches curl more. Granted, I had only knitted a few rows. Is this only a temporary effect that will remedy itself once I’ve knitted a few inches? I hope so. I’ve read about this technique, but it seemed to be making my stiches curl more when I tried it. Maybe I should go the long haul, though, and see what comes out of it. I’m persistent, so I’ll find some way to work this out.


Exactly. You would knit these 3 end stitches on every row (as opposed to knitting on the RS and purling on the WS to create stockinette). :thumbsup:

Creating this garter stitch border won’t completely eliminate the curling effect that stockinette has, but it will help greatly. Follow Suzeeq’s instructions and you should have much better results.

Good luck! :knitting:


Yes 3 sts at the beg and end of both the RS and WS rows, keeping the main part in stockinette if that’s what the gauge is knit in. Two rows of garter probably isn’t enough, so do 3 or 4 rows to begin and end with. The garter rows may flip up, but if you block or lay the swatch out flat when it’s wet, that should settle down.


Selvage on fabric is the tightly woven edges along the sides of the fabric yardage. Selvage in a knitting swatch is just the 2-4 stitches you knit in garter stitch on the sides of your swatch. (Just knitting).

Often the pattern will direct to knit for your swatch in a particular stitch. It could be garter stitch (every row knit), stockinet (knit one row, purl the next. Except for your selvage on your gauge swatch). You could also be directed to knit your swatch in the pattern.
Pattern meaning the directed stitches you are using for your sweater, or whatever you are making. You might be knitting a lace pattern with yarn overs and knitting stitches together. A gauge swatch will depend on what you are making. Usually they are knit in either stockinette or garter, but sometimes they are knit in the pattern for your project.
Hope this isn’t insulting, but sometimes it helps to have even the basics explained.
Good luck, you have lots of years of pleasure ahead of you. :blush: