What’s your gauge?

Make a swatch to get the gauge right

We love seeing all your beautiful knitted projects live, when we meet you at trade shows or in our showroom in Copenhagen. BUT… we also regularly meet the stories of the projects that just did not end up as intended. Either the result has become too big or small, or maybe it just has a completely different fit than intended. Most often it is the gauge that create problems. That's why we've created this short guide for you, so you can get the gauge right for your next project.

You just bought your yarn for your next project. You hurry home and you can hardly wait to cast on for the Coco mohair slipover (or any other project of course).. The small voice in the back of your head says, "Remember to make a gauge swatch”... but surely, it’ll be fine if I drop it, you think… It is only when you have knitted half or more of your project that you realize something is wrong. It looks too big or too small, and perhaps you only measure at this point, whether your gauge matches the pattern. It didn’t, and that’s a bummer. A real bummer.

It really pays off to spend the time and energy on making that gauge swatch before you start knitting. It saves you from a lot of frustration and unraveling. Trust us, we speak from experience.

So, what is gauge really?

The gauge is always indicated in the pattern. It is a unit of measurement that indicates how many stitches and needles are needed to make a square piece of 10x10 cm. At the same time, the gauge is a key element in the design process behind a pattern. Many swatches are knitted to find the right expression for the design.

Let's take the Coco Mohair slipover as an example; it has a gauge of: "19 sts and 25 needles in garter stitches on needle # 5 = 10 x 10 cm". So if you knit 19 stitches on needle # 5, you will have knitted 10 cm of your project. The gauge is normally calculated in garter stitches, unless otherwise stated in the pattern.

If you knit just a little tighter than the pattern indicates, your project will be too small, while it will be too big if you knit looser.  And this is exactly what a gauge swatch will reveal, if you take the time to produce one.

How to make a good gauge swatch:

Your gauge swatch is a square piece of approximately 15x15 cm – this size will give you enough material to measure both the number of stiches and the needle count:

- Find the gauge of your pattern.
- Cast on the number of stitches that the gauge indicates in the pattern + 10 sts on your needle
- Knit the number of rows that the gauge of your pattern indicates + 10 needles in garter stitches. If the knitting strength is indicated in pattern, then knit in pattern and not garter stitches.
- Bind off in garter stitches.
- Wash and dry your swatch. 

    If you were to make a gauge swatch for the Coco mohair slipover, the above means that you would need to cast on 29 stitches and knit 35 rows.

    Now you can measure your gauge

    Now measure and count how many stitches and rows you have on a 10x10cm swatch. Consider marking the 10 cm with pins and counting the stitches with the tip of your needle.

    If you have more stitches on your 10x10 cm swatch than indicated in the pattern, you knit tighter than the pattern and you should go up in needle size. If you have fewer stitches than indicated in the pattern, you knit looser than the pattern, and therefore you should go down in needle size.

    Now make a new gauge swatch with the new needle size, according to the instructions above, and measure your gauge again. Sometimes several swatches are required in order to get the gauge exactly right.

    Tip: We find that the gauge sometimes vary with varying types of needles, so if you keep being unable to get the gauge right, try changing to needles in other materials.

    Yes, we know. Making gauge swatches is not the most interesting of tasks, but we promise you it's worth the effort.

    With love 

    Team Önling

    The cute measurement tapes can be purchased here.