Knitter's Log Day 1 Part 3: How to Measure True Gauge

Whew! Almost through Day One

This is the last (but by no means least) post on gauge swatching. I decided to break it off into three parts because there is so much important info to digest. Also, It will make it easier for you to refer to if you run into a question while working on your own gauge swatches.

After washing your gauge swatches

Both swatches are finally dried and ready to really "get gauge." Before you grab those t-pins, stop and check to make sure your swatches are entirely dry. Not sort of dry, but all the way, as in "doesn't smell like a wet sheepdog" dry!  

For good measure

Now it was time to measure the stitches on the swatch. First, I found an additional reason for why they requested the really big swatches. The guide instructed me to measure the swatch in three places horizontally. The also made a point of having me use a ruler, not a tape measure.  

Traditionally, what I would do is take one measurement and get started on my project. Instead they recommended I take 3 separate measurements in various spots on the swatch.

The results

- Measuring over 4" - I got 11.5 stitches in one spot, 11.5 in another and 11 in a third!? Huh? Apparently, varying gauge results are common - read the next step to find out what to do about it.

How to get the most accurate gauge, also known as "TRUE GAUGE"

Add those stitch results together and divide by three to come up with your overall average.  

Ok, 34 stitches divided by my 3 measures gives me 11.33 which I rounded to the next quarter. That makes my final number is 11.5. 

The last step was to divide that number by the 4 inches I measured and my true gauge is 2.87 stitches per inch. I rounded up and that puts me at 3.00 sts per inch -  just like it says on the Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande label.

Measure row gauge

The last step was to turn my swatch and measure vertically to get my rows per inch.  I only had to measure in one spot then divide by 4.  For the 30 Day Sweater project it's not an issue, but that is awfully handy to know.

Why "True Gauge" is important

It may not seem like a big deal to have an inaccurate gauge over a 4" span. However, when you knitting an entire garment being off by just one stitch on gauge has a huge impact. 

Let's say you are knitting a 40" sweater and you think your gauge is 10 stitches over 4", but in actuality it's 11 stitches. The overall result would mean your sweater is 4" wider than what you had expected! I also think measuring for "true gauge" would be hugely helpful in measuring gauge on a complex pattern.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing how your gauge and neck measurement determine the amount of stitches for your cast on!