In her presentation, designer Debbi Stone of Stitches of My Life Designs discussed gauge: what is it, what determines it, and what is the role of gauge in the success of your final project.
Like many beginning knitters, Debbi was never taught about gauge and how it can affect your knitted item, and this led to many project failures where things just didn’t fit right. Luckily, once you master gauge you can prevent these things from happening.
Gauge is defined as the number of stitches per inch, in both stitches across (stitch gauge) and stitches vertically (row gauge). Gauge can be affected by the yarn, the needles, the knitting style, the knitter, and the situations of the day; therefore it’s important to always check gauge if you want your project to come out as expected. An additional consideration with gauge is the desired overall structure or drape of the finished fabric. Before making anything, Debbi recommends knitting a gauge swatch. If this matches the gauge listed in a pattern, then your project will match the design as written. If it doesn’t, it will not and you will need to make changes (different needles or yarn are the easiest things to switch out).
When swatching, you will be able to find out how you like the fabric, how the yarn looks, how the pattern or colorwork look, how the fabric flows/drapes and generally how you like it, in addition to the gauge you get. Some swatching tips Debbi had were to be sure to stick to the same situation as the pattern calls for as much as possible. For example, use the same yarn, and the same needles; if the pattern is knit in the round; knit the swatch in the round; swatch all of the knitted patterns you will be making in the project; and be sure to knit onto the full shaft of the needle (not just the tip of the needle) even though it’s a small swatch. By following these steps, you will get a swatch that is representative of the gauge you will get with the project. To make a useful swatch, Debbi suggests always including a garter edge so as to more easily see the edges of what you’ve made without curling. Finally, Debbi insists that if you don’t block your swatch, you shouldn’t even bother knitting it, as you will have no idea of what happens to the yarn/fabric once blocked. When blocking, she recommends following the ball band regarding temperature, but then simply laying out the swatch to dry (without pins) in order to see what it does naturally.
Thank you, Debbi!
Show and Tell
Missives from the fabulous women who got the ball (of yarn) rolling.