What is a Gauge?
“Gauge Swatch” is a small piece of fabric that you create using a certain type of yarn and hook. You make a gauge swatch at the beginning of a project to test your gauge and see if your gauge meets the designers gauge! (This is an essential part of making from a pattern). A gauge swatch is normally a 4X4 inch square.
Normally, a gauge swatch will be specified in each pattern that you purchase or find for free online. If there is not a gauge swatch, it typically means that size doesn’t matter for the finished item. Most patterns will include a gauge swatch however because size normally matters.
If you are making a sweater for instance, you will want to gauge swatch. This gauge will ensure that your sweater fits! (See more on why you should swatch below). If you gauge swatch turns out bigger than the designer specified, move down a hook size and try again! If your gauge swatch turned out smaller than the designer specified, move up a hook size and try again!
Word to the Wise: Even if you are 1/8th of an inch off in your swatch, you should try to adjust either your tension or your hook size because 1/8th of an inch off in an entire sweater could mean multiple size differences between the product you are creating and the product you are trying to create.
It takes some time, especially if you are knitting or crocheting with a smaller yarn weight. BUT! It is totally worth it because; It guarantees your finished make will either fit or be the size it was intended to be, it reduces stress when you are making the item itself because you have the size guarantee, AND it brings you credibility as a maker!
Guarantees A Fit:
If you are making something, (especially a garment!) you want the finished project to fit or be true to size. I am preaching to the choir folks because I have more than once not bothered to gauge and ended up with a giant hat, a giant sweater, a tiny sweater and probably others that I have blocked out of my memory!
If you gauge swatch, you will assure that you end up with a project that the designer intended to be that size!
This process is supposed to be fun, right?? Crocheting and Knitting is no fun at all when you find yourself constantly measuring, trying on, or just plain stressing about your current work in progress! If you match gauge before you begin, you will not have to worry while you are making the item that it will be what it is supposed to be! (See Tips and Tricks below for further information on this). It also allows room for joy in the process! We as makers create because of the joy and happiness we find in the art of making! This is even more amplified when we can fully enjoy the process and relax!
Credibility as a Maker:
As a pattern designer, when I am working with pattern testers, the most frustrating thing to me is when the maker does not bother to match gauge. The whole point of having a pattern tester is to find out if the pattern I wrote is going to work out in real life! If a gauge is not met when testing, nobody wins and everyone ends up a little disappointed. If you want to gain credibility as a maker, ensure that you gauge swatch! It shows that you care and value the pattern you are testing and the designer that wrote it! Gauge swatching is the first step to becoming a good pattern tester.
Tips and Tricks!
TIP #2: Block your swatch!!
I know this sounds odd, but a few times, when I was in the early stages of designing and making, I didn’t know what drape a fabric would have when it worked up. If you block your swatch after you finish it, you can see the drape of the specific yarn you are using, and you can see how much or little your finished project will stretch when blocked! One time I was testing a pattern that called for cotton yarn. Having never worked with cotton yarn before, I didn’t realize that it was super stretchy when weighted down. I ended up having to take out my entire sweater and begin again! Blocking your swatch also helps you to make the right decision on which yarn you will use! If you find that a yarn is super stretchy and thats not what you wanted, you can simply switch yarns to ensure your project turns out the way you want it to!
TIP #3: Utilize your Swatch!!
If you have gotten to the end of this blog post and still hate me for writing all of this logical information down, read this one last tip! Swatching time doesn’t have to be wasted time! If you want to use your swatch instead of frogging it when you are done, consider the following options:
1) Make a patchwork blanket from all of your swatches! How fun would this be?? Not only would you end up with a cozy blanket, you would also be creating a useful memoir of your past projects that you MADE RESPONSIBLY BY GAUGE SWATCHING!! 😉
2) Add a pocket to your project! How cute would 4X4 inch pocket look on the front of your sweater??
(If you use any of the “utilizing tips” please tag me and use #iusedmyswatch so I can see your fun projects!!
Thats all for today folks! Thanks for stopping by!