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Some people will read this title and just not even bother to read the content. A lot of students have come into my class thinking that gauging a project is a waste of time, but the importance of this practice to your project will always show up in your finished project. Usually I have these students converted by the time they leave.

I had this one student who crocheted beautifully. In addition to the class work, she was crocheting a project at home (64 Squares that made up an Afghan) and each square worked a different stitch. She was trying to push herself to learn more stitches, and as she brought in each square weekly everyone admired her work. Each square was done to perfection as far as the stitch was concerned; but she thought since it was an afghan that gauging was really not that important. Then one day she came in almost in tears, for when she went to put the squares together she had discovered they were different sizes. Not much, but enough to make a difference when they are sewn together. So much work and beautiful as well. Still she would not see a finished project without taking apart seventeen of the squares she had done and re-working them. A few students stayed after and helped her rip out the squares, and happily, she was actually laughing about the whole situation by the time she went home. She also developed a new habit from that day, for after that she swore she would never start another project without taking the time to gauge.

I am sharing this story because I believe taking the time to gauge your project could make the difference in your project coming out to the desired size or not. Making a gauge swatch usually takes five minutes, but it could make such a difference in the outcome of your project.

The best definition I have heard about gauging came from Lyons:

“Gauge is the term that is used to define the proper tension you should work to insure that the crocheted piece you make will be the right size when it’s completed. The hook size listed in the pattern is just the size used by the designer to work at the proper gauge. You may need to change hook size in order to work at the given gauge. It is especially important to work to the proper gauge when making garments — anything that you want to fit properly!

Gauge is usually defined in the pattern by a ratio of stitches and rows to a given measurement such as 16 stitches and 14 rows in single crochet = 4″. You should always work a swatch of fabric (approximately 4″ x 4″) in the stitch pattern of the piece you are making. Then count the number of stitches and rows in the measurement designated by the gauge given in the pattern. If you find that your swatch has more stitches and rows than the gauge, you are working too tightly so change to a larger hook and try again. If you have fewer stitches and rows in the area, you are working too loosely and should try a smaller hook. Keep changing hook size until you arrive at the proper gauge.”

How to gauge:

To achieve gauge means to crochet the number of stitches and rows per inch which the pattern specifies. This is the procedure I usually go through before I start my project.

1. Make a square swatch of 4 x 4″ out to the desire pattern you are crocheting using
    the suggested hook size at first.

2. Take a ruler (I like using the Susan Bates Knit Chek Needle Size and Gauge Check Card  

    pictured above) and count the number of stitches across and the number of rows in your  

    swatch.

3. If you have to many stitches per inch, try using a larger hook.

4. If your have not enough stitches per inch, try using a smaller hook.

5. Just keep changing hooks until you get the desired gauge.

It is that simple, that is all there is to it. I have made it a rule in my life, whenever I am starting a new project, the first step is to make a 4 x 4″ square swatch and to get the proper gauge for my project. I want to give my project the best chance to come out looking as close to perfect as possible.

Do you have an opinion on gauging? I would love to hear it. Is it something you have made a regular habit in your life?

Until next week, keep those hooks flying.