Getting Gauge: You are Not Alone

You’re sitting in your favourite knitting chair, frowning. This is supposed to be relaxing. This is supposed to be fun but … your project is not quite right. It’s bigger or smaller than it should be. You measure, knit a bit and measure again because this time it will miraculously be the correct size! What is the matter? Everyone else is knitting this and it’s working fine. Not True.

Lots of those “everyone else” knitters struggle to get their projects to work out to the correct size too. We can’t talk about knitting to size and dimensions, without talking about the G word. Yes, that one. If you struggle with getting gauge you are not alone.

What matters?

  1. How you knit. Which method you use and how you hold your yarn.
  2. The yarn you are knitting with: fine yarn to heavy yarns.
  3. How crucial the dimensions of the project are. Sometime they just aren’t that important or only in one spot. Gotta’ love those projects.

Know who you are:

When I comment to knitters that they are a loose or tight they seem insulted. I am not making a judgement on their moral character. This is information you need to know. If you don’t know how can you work on accommodating it. Working with how you knit is what we all need to do.

Do Not Change how you knit.

Knit using the method you learned and are comfortable with. If you decide you are going to knit tighter or looser for a project, you know it’s going to last about 5 minutes until you relax, watch TV or speak to anyone.

Who are you?

  1. Are you a loose knitter (not in the moral sense) or a tight knitter (not in the monetary sense)? If, when using the needle recommended on the ball band, everything you knit turns out large, your fabric is drapey and open and your stitches are loose or uneven, you are a loose knitter. If your stitches squeak when you move them on the needle, your fabric is very firm then you are a tight knitter. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH HOW YOU KNIT. You just need to know where you are on the continuum between loose and tight.
  2. Notice the details. First of all, observe. Take a look at, or remember, some of your previous projects where the size turned out to be different from expected. What weight of yarn was each of these projects worked in? We are not necessarily consistent. I am a loose knitter but when I knit socks with sock yarn I’m right on target. I’m also pretty good with DK weight yarn. The break appears when I reach worsted weight yarn. I’m loose with all the heavier weights of yarn which I love to work with. I also struggle to get gauge the stiffer the yarn is. My ultimate frustration is that I simply cannot get gauge at all with boucle cotton (bumpy cotton aran weight yarn). No way, no how, even using 4 sizes smaller needles, not even close.

That’s what I know about how I knit. How about you? Are fine yarns trouble? Heavy yarn is a problem? Are there projects you just don’t tackle because of gauge?

Thanks for reading. Any questions?


ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Deb oninstagram

Author: debgemmellmods

I'm a Knitter. The capital K means every day, everywhere. I'm co-owner of Cabin Fever with my sister Lyn. We have published over 100 patterns and 11 books. I'm also working on a new set of patterns for Any Gauge knitting. Dive into your stash and cast on for a Top Down sweater that fits, or an accessory to use up those odd balls of yarn.

2 thoughts on “Getting Gauge: You are Not Alone”

  1. The type of needle I use changes my gauge too. Did I use Addi lace or regulars or cliks. Did I use circulars or straights? Did I use wood or metal. Apparently I knit to a different tension with different needles. One more detail I note on my swatch tag!
    And I admit to being a “firm” knitter. My stash of yarn and patterns proves that I’m not tight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good point. Now you’ve taught me something. I don’t find different needles change my gauge but I’m a loose knitter which means I have space between my stitch and the needle so the content of the needle doesn’t affect the stitch as much. A tight knitter would see a difference.
      Ha, ha, yes, stashes sort of do away with the notion that knitters are tight.


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