GAUGE & SWATCHING
Even if you’re using the same yarn called for in a pattern, you still MUST swatch!
· We all knit differently, and that matters.
· The needles you choose to use can make a difference.
· Why knit a whole sweater that isn’t going to fit when all you need to do is knit a quick gauge swatch?
So, imagine HOW IMPORTANT it is to swatch when you’re using some other yarn!
First, let’s talk about gauge
It really is important.
Taking accurate gauge is a must.
Think of it as a first date with your new yarn . . . .
Knit that 4 x 4 swatch, hopefully with garter stitch borders, dunk it in warm water, press out excess water, pin to 4 x 4, let dry, and THEN take a truly much more accurate gauge.
Many patterns have you knit to X number of inches before starting waist shaping, or armhole, necklines, etc. THIS IS ALL ASSUMING THAT YOU GOT THE EXACT ROW GAUGE THEY DID!
Row gauge can sometimes be a bit harder to get than stitch gauge.
Some tips for row gauge:
Change the TYPE of needle you’re using – it can make a difference
Throwing or picking can make a difference, not only in row but stitch gauge
Don’t measure for armholes, etc. – calculate row gauge from your perfectly blocked swatch
You’re getting 6 rows/”, pattern says 8”, so you work 48 rows – FORGET the tape measure
Check out this great article by knitting instructor Patty Lyons on row gauge where she walks you through some SIMPLE arithmetic for problems with too few or too many rows
One time row gauge REALLY matters is if you’re knitting lace or cables, or some other pattern that needs to start and end on a particular row.
Say, cables – we’re knitting a simple C4 pattern, crossing every 4th row
And you’re working up to the shoulder, where the cross should just end
If your row gauge is off, you may need to knit a couple fewer or more rows so your cabling ends on the right row
DIFFERENT STITCH PATTERNS
Garter stitch, and Fair Isle knitting, can yield a fabric that is ‘squarer’ than standard stockinette
You can’t assume that if you got gauge on a stockinette swatch, it will translate to knitting in another stitch pattern
MORE ON GAUGE
If your gauge is off, you need to change your needle size
· A LARGER needle makes BIGGER stitches, which are FEWER stitches per inch
· A smaller needle makes smaller stitches, which are MORE stitches per inch
KNITTING IN THE ROUND produces a different gauge than flat knitting, because you don’t PURL
To SWATCH in the round
Cast on, but DON’T TURN YOUR WORK! Instead, strand your yarn across the back, leaving it a bit loose, and the KNIT the next row
Keep this up until your swatch is finished
If you can afford to ‘waste’ the yarn, cut through the middle of the strands so your swatch can lay flat
Some yarns may not make up the fabric you are hoping for, even if you’re getting gauge
This is a NO GO – you won’t be happy with the finished product
Knit me a hat!
I want a hat. You have pink yarn that I LOVE, but no label – what size is it??
Knit a swatch. Measure my head. Multiply st/” from swatch by inches around my head.
Subtract 10%ish for snug fit, cast on, and knit me that hat!
SUBSTITUTING YARNS IN PATTERNS
Oh, that it would be an easy thing to do!
SO many things must be taken into consideration:
Yarn weight (size) – see CYC handout #2
This information gets you in the ball park, but you still need to SWATCH.
If you have to change needle size too much, will you like the fabric
SECOND – Fiber content
Usually substitute with like fibers.
Cotton is heavier than wool – wont substitute well.
Slinky yarn, fuzzy yarn – will they work?
Consider a blend – can lighten 100% cottons, support a slinky yarn,
THIRD – Yarn type
Textured – slubby, thick/thin, shiny, fuzzy – will they translate well?
Variegated – takes over piece, not good choice for laces, cables, textured stitches.
Consider drape of fabric compared to original fabric.
Woolen spun – fibers are jumbled – makes a warmer, fluffier, ‘duller’ yarn.
Worsted spun – fibers are all aligned before spun – sleek, smooth, heavier yarn.
GRIST – see link on links page
Grist refers to the density of the yarn.
Takes into consideration the type of fiber, type of spin, number of plies
Factors in both circumference and weight in a length of yarn
– giving YARDS PER OUNCE.
Two yarns that may say they are the same ‘size,’ and LOOK the same size, may not really BE the same size after all.
USE MORE THAN ONE YARN
Can help you get to the weight of yarn you need, create a more sturdy fabric.
2 fingering = 1 sport
2 sport = 1 worsted
2 worsted = 1 super bulky
These are NOT EXACT – SWATCH!!
FOURTH – Dye Lot
You MUST have sufficient yardage of the SAME dye lot for the project.
This can be a problem with yarns you purchased years ago.
Odds are you will NOT be able to find more of the same dye lot now!
Your yarn will most likely have a different yardage/ball, so simple math is needed:
Pattern says 5 balls of X, each at 220 yds = 1100 yds
Your yarn says 197 yds per ball 1100 yds/197 yds = 5.58 balls, or 6
And then one more just to be safe!
And, then, of course, SWATCH!!
ADVANCED GAUGE INFORMATION
You’ve found a sweater you just HAVE to knit.
It calls for X yarn
You MUST use the amazing Y yarn you have, but, it’s a different size (w
SWATCH your yarn for stitch and row gauge
You MUST wash and block this swatch to get ACCURATE information
Pick another yarn Go for it!
There’s real MATH involved here.
You figure the gauge YOU ARE getting (5st/”), multiply by the finished bust measurement of the sweater size you want to knit (43” = 193.5 total sts – or 97ish sts each front and back), and then find a size in the pattern that gets you closest to your answer. It really is easier than it sounds.
Check out the following link for a great explanation of how to make this work.
USING GAUGE TO CHOOSE PATTERN SIZE
NEAT NEW SITE FOR SUBSTITUTING YARNS