Right Gauge, Wrong Gauge

I’ve been knitting for several years now and have yet to solve this problem. When I knit a gauge swatch, I will get it right on. Then I knit the whole piece and for whatever reason it ends up being a little big. I do check my gauge to make sure I am right on while knitting the piece, and if I’m off its on the row count (something that can easily be compensated for).
Any hints? Tips of advice? I’ve considered knitting one size smaller with the hope that it will be just right!
Or maybe I don’t know how to measure myself.

My knitting tend to relax as I go, so my swatch tends to be tighter than my actual garment. Frustrating, yes! I’m LEARNING to adjust what pattern size I choose, or needle size or whatever.

I consider myself an experienced knitter and I happen to have the same problem, but only going the other direction, knitting more tightly on my project than on the swatch. So, I often switch over to a slightly larger needle than what I used for the swatch. In your case, you might try using a needle one or two sizes smaller than what you swatched with to attain guage. In any case, you need to measure your knitting every couple of inches as you go along to make sure that you are not off. If the gauge gets too loose, use smaller needles. I might start with knitting a front or a sleeve, so there won’t be so much knitting to rip back if the gauge is off. One more thing, try making larger swatches. This might better show your real gauge than a teeny piece. I hope that helps.


Generally our knitting relaxes when we work on an item, or a piece larger than a swatch. Also, we might be really intent on trying to get gauge and unconsciously knit tighter. If it’s a sweater, just start a sleeve and see if you get gauge on that. If it’s wrong, you’ll know in about the same amount of knitting as a swatch.

I often tend to loosen up knitting on the larger item as well and so
I always do as suzeeq suggested and start my sweaters with the
sleeves. If the sleeves are a bit loose it doesn’t matter (at least
not on the patterns I’ve done so far) and then I can adjust my needle
size if necessary when doing the body of the sweater.

Libbie :slight_smile:

I’ve found that if i just start out knitting something, after about 30 minutes my gauge relaxes. Since that’s about how long it takes me to make a swatch, I don’t swatch for something important until after I’ve already been knitting something for a while… then, I make sure to start working on the garment after I’ve had some warm up knitting, as well. We need to warm up a little… Michael Phelps doesn’t jump right in the pool, does he?

thanks everyone for your suggestions. Right now I am on an afghan kick so I don’t care about gauge, but I do have some sweaters planned so will try out your suggestions!

That’s a really good idea!

Swatches? We don’t need no steenkin swatches!

Yeah, sometimes they lie…


Watch this clip from the YH she has a get opinion on swatches.

Yeah…I have Sweater Wizard…and I always find it is way to big…

Problem…small swatch…the gauge gets more and more inaccurate as you go.

They really need to make those tool doohickies bigger…2 inches does not get you an accurate count…4 inches is better…

Either way…it is the fractions that count…they really do…and you just can’t get that on a swatch!

One suggestion is to make your swatch about 6" and even 8" so you can measure gauge in several places. And knit something else for a few minutes before you start a swatch so you’re a bit more relaxed.


I don’t know if this applies, but it was a wall I ran into and had to velcro myself off of! :slight_smile:

I would knit flat swatches to get gauge for circular pieces and ended up being very “off” in my calculations. Evidently, knitting in the round produces a different sized swatch because all the stitches are knit stitches to do stockinette with no balancing of a possibly larger/smaller purl stitch.

Amy has a paragraph on how to do a flat swatch for gauge for a circular project. I think it’s in the advanced tips section of the KH site. Hope this helps! :waving: