Okay, So How Do You Really Use A Gauge?

I know how to make a swatch, and count the stitches and the rows, so that's not a problem.

My question is, how do you adjust your pattern for your gauge? I just started knitting, and there are patterns that call for a different needle size and different yarn weights than what I have. What do you do to adapt what you have to match the pattern for the garment that you have?

Thanks for the input!

Celowin's picture

Usually, you match the yarn weight given in the pattern. If the yarn lists a "gauge range," then anything you can find that accomodates the gauge in the pattern should be ok.

The needles listed on a pattern, though, are just a starting point. The idea is to knit a swatch using that size needle, and then change needle size up or down until you match the gauge listed on the pattern.

wow, i'm glad i asked first then, before starting on a size sensitive project. i thought you can just use whatever you got and adjust the knitting pattern according to your gauge. i didn't know you have to have the same number of stitches and it's the needle size that change the number of stitches.

YarnGuy716's picture

First off, congratulations on realizing the importance of gauge and making a swatch. You are starting out on the right foot to successful knitting.

For yarn choices, it's best to use a similar weight yarn to what the pattern calls for. So if the pattern uses a DK weight yarn, then that is the weight yarn you should use. If you try to make it with say a bulky yarn, you will either have to recalculate the stitch counts which will give you a similar finished piece in a heavier weight. If you just work with a needle small enough to give you the correct stitch count you will have a piece that is as stiff as card board.

Needle size is a recommended starting point, as everyone knits differently. I tend to knit loosely, so I always start 1 size smaller and can go 2 or 3 sizes smaller to get the gauge I want.

So let's say you have a pattern using worsted weight and US8 needles. Make your swatch using worsted weight yarn and US8 needles. If your swatch measures the given gauge, then you are good. Otherwise you will need to go up or down a needle size. There is lots of info online that can help you with this and most every knitting book out there covers gauge.

Just remember that like with most anything, you need the right tools to do the job right. If you substitute yarn or needles because you don't have what they call for, then you are heading for problems. Especially if you don't know how to adjust for those substitutions from the start.