For beginners, one of the most daunting aspects of making a pattern can be gauge, or the number of stitches per inch. Gauge is important because it helps knitters and crocheters make garments and accessories the size listed in the pattern.
Most patterns recommend making a sample swatch before starting a project to check for gauge, allowing the knitter adjust need size to obtain the correct gauge before knitting the entire project.
Yarn labels almost always list the yarn’s recommended gauge and needle size, but this is only a suggestion. Your gauge is a unique characteristic of your knitting that can be adjusted with needle size.
Check your gauge
To check your gauge, use the recommended yarn and needles to knit a 4” square in stockinette stitck (knit one row, purl one row).
After you have a swatch, use a ruler to count the number of stitches over two inches, dividing this number by two. For example: If you have 10 stitches over 2 inches, that means you have 5 stitches/inch. Repeat this in several places to check for accuracy.
If your pattern calls for more stitches to the inch, switch to a smaller needle (which will make smaller stitches and increase the number of stitches/inch). However, if your pattern calls for fewer stenches to the inch, switch to a larger needle.