Crochet Gauge – A Step by Step Guide
Checking your gauge is a critical step when following a crochet pattern that can make all the difference for your final product. Here you will learn what crochet gauge is, why it’s important, how to read and understand crochet gauge instructions (on a yarn label and in patterns) as well as how to measure gauge, how to check gauge, and how to adjust it so that your final product will be the size it’s meant to be.
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For years I ignored this step. I didn’t do it on purpose. It was if my mind automatically just skipped it over the gauge section for every pattern saying “just don’t make eye contact and it will go away.” I can’t tell you how many crochet hats I have completed that turned out to be either for a mouse or a giant!
So I’ll try to make this as simple as possible so you don’t dread this step as much as I did. For additional information, Interweave is an excellent resource.
What is a Crochet Gauge?
I first thought maybe it was a secret code that designers put on their patterns!
It’s actually how many stitches and rows are in a specified area.
Why Measure and Check Crochet Gauge?
The reason for checking and measuring gauge is because we all crochet with different tensions. If you want your project to match the designer’s final product size, you’ll want to ensure you crochet the same tension as the designer. Every single person crochets with a different tension.
In fact, even our own tension will be different depending on our mood. When we’re stressed, our stitches tend to be tighter.
You also might be using a different yarn than the yarn the designer used.
For things like scarves and blankets where the size isn’t as important, you can skip this step but if you want your final product to be the size it was meant to be, check your gauge.
The goal of checking the gauge is to see if your stitches, using the yarn you selected and hook size, match the designers.
We do this first, before starting a project, to save you from making your project too big (my husbands head is big but not THAT big) or too small (like when my perfect newborn baby hat was way too small for my newborn baby!)
All you need to do is make a little sample of the pattern and then count how many stitches and rows are in that sample. Then check to see if it matches the pattern. If it doesn’t, change hook sizes
That’s it! It’s really not too hard and is so important.
How to Read the Pattern Gauge
Example: 13 stitches and 14 rows = 4”
What this means: when the pattern designer is crocheting a row of the pattern stitches, there are 13 stitches within a 4 inch area.
It also means that when you measure the piece/sample/swatch vertically, the pattern designer has made 14 rows within a 4 inch area.
How to Understand Crochet Gauge on a Yarn Label
That little square on a yarn label actually has a ton of useful information on it! I’ll tell you the top secret designer code for what it actually means.
Here is what will be on your yarn label:
What Crochet Gauge on a Yarn Label Means:
- The hook = this is the Crochet Gauge information (not the knitting gauge information)
- H-8 = the best crochet hook to use for this yarn is, in this example, a size H-8 crochet hook
- 5.00 mm = same as above just in metric format (the best size hook to use is a 5.00 mm hook)
- 4 x 4 in = To measure and check the gauge, make a sample or a swatch that is at least 4 inches long and 4 inches tall.
- 10 x 10 cm = Same directions as above just in metric format (4 inches = 10 cm)
- 14 R = When you make your swatch, there will be 14 rows in a 4 inch area
- 13 sc = When you make your swatch, there will be 13 single crochet stitches in a 4 inch area
How to Measure and Check Crochet Gauge
1. Create a swatch/sample of the pattern
- Find what stitches to use in your swatch
- See how many stitches are listed in the gauge
- Slip knot and chain the number of stitches listed + a few more (in the example of 13 stitches in a row, I would make a 17 chains)
- Stitch into each chain and across
- Turn work and stitch across
- Continue crocheting across the rows until you have the number of rows specified in the gauge (in the example of 14 rows, I would make 17 rows.
2. Measure your gauge
- With your ruler or measuring tape, measure the area stated in the gauge across the row
- Count how many stitches are in that area (the example said 4” so we will measure 4” and count how many stitches are in 4”
- Now meausure vertically the number of rows in the area stated the example said 4” so we will measure 4” and count how many rows are in 4”
3. Check your gauge
Now compare the number of rows and stitches from your swatch to what’s listed in the pattern. Does it match?
- If it matches, great! You can now start the pattern.
- If you have more stitches than what the pattern says, make your sample (called a swatch) again with a smaller hook.
- If you have less stitches than what the pattern says, make your swatch again with a larger hook.
I hope this helps you make the perfect fitting crochet item.
Interested in more articles like this? Check out the Tips & Tools page for handy charts, step by step guides and other useful crochet resources.
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