Gauge—- What is it & do you really need it?

The Dictionary definition is “a standard measure or scale of measurement” but if you are working on a sweater it’s definition could mean disaster! When I first started to crochet, gauge meant nothing at all to me until I made a sweater jacket that wasn’t quite right. I will admit that I didn’t figure it out for another 2 – 3 years later what was wrong. I had used the exact same color, yarn, and hook. Followed the directions very carefully and ended up with a nice surprise for my little sister.

We need Gauge. Crochet gauge definition – stitches per inch and rows per inch. If you are having trouble with it…don’t worry, there are a few tricks to get it correct. Taking a few minutes to make a gauge swatch can save you hours of frogging (ripping out stitches, maybe even rows) and frustration.

1. To get a good swatch it should be no less than 2 inches square (2 x 2). I always use 3 inches but you can do 2 inches to save a little time.

2. Always make a square swatch. By doing the square you will get an accurate count for your stitches per inch and your rows per inch.

3. Try not to “Force” your tension. What I mean by that is to crochet just like you always do. It is perfectly fine/OK if you are not getting the same gauge that the pattern calls for.

4. If you naturally crochet tightly, use a size larger than what is being recommended for your swatch.

5. If you naturally crochet loosely, use a size smaller than what is being recommended for your swatch.

6. If your foundation chain is too tight or too loose use #4 & #5 above then begin pattern with another size hook. Example: use size H hook for foundation chain, switch to size G hook to begin pattern.

7. Always measure the swatch on a HARD FLAT surface.

I have experienced times when I haven’t been able to get the correct exact gauge that a pattern calls for and usually use the hook that gives me the closest results. Example: My sample swatch is 5 3/4 stitches = 3 inches pattern needs 6 stitches = 3 inches.

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