_Understanding Gauge

Hello loom knitters, today we are going to talk about that boring thing called gauge! Hopefully, I can make it mildly interesting since it's so important in all knitting. I'll go through it as quickly and concisely as possible.

What is gauge and why should I care about it?
Gauge is the number of stitches and rows used per inch. It determines the final size of your knitting. It is also referred to as tension. Although our pegs keep us "locked in", in a sense, each loom knitter works with a different tension, changing the size of our items sometimes dramatically. If you want your project to turn out like the given sample then you must meet gauge. The math doesn't lie!

How do I achieve proper tension?
Practice knitting with a medium tension on most projects. Your stitches should not be loose or tight. If you are having difficulty working your stitches then your tension is too tight. If your stitches are looking loose then you need to apply more tension. The most important thing for nice looking stitches is even tension. In lace, cable, etc. patterns often the designer will tell you to knit loosely for easier movement of the sts. In this case, follow the given directions to achieve proper tension.

How do I achieve the proper gauge of my pattern?
If doing a loom knitting pattern, you will knit a 4 x 4 or 5 x5 inch swatch using the given yarn and loom. If you are not doing a pattern and trying to design your own OR changing something in a designers pattern, then knit a swatch to determine how many stitches/pegs you will need. 

How do I determine how many stitches and rows needed?
Lay a ruler or gauge ruler on your swatch and count the number of sts you have (that's the horizontal row) in the 2-inch window. Then count the number of rows you have in the 2-inch window, this is the vertical row. Double those #'s and you will have the amount you'll need to complete 4 inches of your pattern. Most patterns give gauge in equivalents of 4 inches. 

The Math?? Really, it's not scary.
Example (colors indicate source):  If your gauge is 13 sts and 28 rows = 4" in Stockinette and you want to make a washcloth that is 12" x 12", how would you do that?

  • First divide 12" by 4". The answer is 3.
  • Then multiply 13 x 3. The answer is 39. You need 39 sts to create your width, 12 inches.
  • Now multiply 28 x 3. The answer is 84. You need 84 rows to create your length, 12 inches.
  • Math is power in knitting, once you understand it you can create your own designs or actually make things that fit!
  • Guess who just made these calculations easier with a built in calculator, GoodKnit Kisses, check it out!

Now that I know my gauge, how do I apply this to my pattern?
If you are doing a published pattern and have met gauge then you are ready to knit your project! If your swatch is too large, you may be knitting too loose or using the wrong stitch. If you changed the yarn then the yarn may be too bulky for this project. If your swatch is too small then you may be knitting too tight or using too thin a yarn.

  • If your swatch is way off, your yarn, loom, and project probably don't go together. Don't try to force it.

Can I use a different loom and yarn to complete my pattern?
It depends. You can knit a swatch on your chosen loom and determine how many stitches/rows you would need to achieve the desired measurements of the finished object.
Things to keep in mind...

  • Stitch counts are very important. Most patterns have repeats so the number of sts used will have to fit into the repeat. More than likely you'll have to compromise on the size to achieve the proper stitch count.
  • Some objects have a necessary drape and won't have desirable results if made with lighter or heavier yarn to accommodate a different loom. Knit your swatch and see if you like the result.
  • Yarns knit very differently even if they are of the same fiber, ply and weight. 
  • The math does not lie so rely on it.
  • In loom knitting we talk a lot about pegs, each peg equals 1 stitch.
  • Complex shaped patterns are more difficult to change such as boots, slippers, lace shawls, etc. Make sure you have a clear understanding of gauge before attempting this.
  • Links to helpful information:  Converting Needle Knitting Patterns To The Loom and Converting Loom Patterns To Different Looms

Do I always have to worry about gauge?
No, sort of. Many of my earlier patterns do not even include gauge since they were written for a specific loom and yarn. This was done because the size wasn't crucial. Patterns that contain gauge usually expect you to knit a swatch and meet gauge. Items that don't require a specific fit, baby blankets, scarves, Christmas stockings, craft items, etc. can often be knit without worrying too much about gauge.

Thank you for reading and don't forget to check out our shop for beautiful loom knitting patterns and gifts for loom knitters!-Nicole

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