Happy Monday knitters.

To gauge or not. Just do it!  ha ha. This coming from a reformed gauge ‘hater’. Ok so it’s too time-consuming? You don’t quite get the concept? Does it really matter anyway? Well, yes, it matters a lot. So I would like to share with you a simple and effective way to get gauge on your fitted knits. Things like sweaters a gauge is crucial but there are other items that also require gauge. Things like hats, fingerless gloves, socks, baby booties. You can forgo the gauge on a blanket (unless you are concerned about having enough yardage) or scarf.

I’ve done a tiny amount of research to further help on the gauge front. Gauge is the basic starting off point for every pattern. To find how many stitches you are getting per inch. One problem  knitters run into , if not understanding gauge, is thinking we must use the needles recommended. The recommended needles for a pattern or yarn is just a jumping off point- a recommendation. For example my Mom tends to be a loser knitter than I. When starting off in my knit career I killed many a pair of needle ;D Oops. Instead of trying to adjust the knitter it’s best to adjust the needle or yarn size.  Sometimes a person tries to force themselves to knit  tighter or loser… Well when it’s 10pm and your watching Rizzoli and Isles find a killer and your heart picks up pace that knitting you have been consciously trying to loosen up on suddenly turns to Tight city! ha ha You TV knitters know what I’m saying wink wink.

So here are my sure-fire rules;

#1. Use the recommended needles size, as exactly that, a recommendation. Go to a smaller or larger size when need be

#2. Your gauge must be knit in the same exact pattern your project will be in. Ribbing, stockinette, garter, whatever it may be. (PS the band on a hat does not count… That’s a separate blog)

#3. Knit at least 4 inches in the pattern of choice before measuring your gauge

#4. Knit to get the correct gauge for pattern. If the patterns calls for 2 sts per inch then you’ll need to monkey around with needles/ yarn until you get that gauge.

#5. Cast on 20 stitches. No matter what size needle.

If you follow these rules to make a gauge you will have knits that fit. No bagging sweater or Rasta hats for beanies. So here we go…

From old school, like Elizabeth Zimmrman, to new school, like Debbie Stoller, there is a at least one common belief. Gauge! They all suggest that gauge will get our knitting to fit and look they way we want, There is a lot of guess work in knitting. Because we, usually, don’t know what out project will look like before we knit it. Usually we base it on the fact that the yarn totally rocks and the pattern looks ‘simple enough’. But unless there is a garment to try on we hope to the knitting Gods that it turns out as fabulous as we hoped.  Erika Knight, who is in fact is completely genius, has a fabulous book out Simple knitting: A complete how-to-knit workshop with 20 projects. Knight clearly describes how to do a gauge swatch. As well has methods to cast on, increase, decrease and all the 411 a knitter needs. ( I have been knitting for over ten years and it’s my absolute favorite book presently)

Now that you have followed my 5 easy steps:D You have cast on 20 and knitted for at least 4 inches, it’s time to measure. Knight says to ‘smooth out the square on a flat surface… Place a ruler (a cloth tape measure can be less accurate) horizontally on the fabric and mark 4 in with pins. count the number of stitches between the pins’ I however am not as fastidious as Ms. Knight ;D We sell a fancy tool called ‘knit-o-gauge’ at the shop. (this tool only works if you have followed the steps and cast on 20 stitches, It’s real live magic and you too can do it! Both ways work. There is another tool sold by Susan Bates that is fine but I find it difficult to read the stitch ‘window’ sometimes.

So let us say that we got 6 stitches per inch  on a #7 needle and it was too tight. That would mean we need to go up in needles size, to an #8. If it was too loose that would mean we need to go down in needle size, to a #6. Are you still following me? Let us say it was just right 😀 and we got 6 stitches per inch and we want to make Evalyn a beanie. Here is what we do for a hat. (this is basically a free pattern.. So listen close) If you want to learn more about gauge and knitting sweaters, I suggest taking my Madre’s Top down sweater class.

Hat Formula:

stitches per inch X head size( – 1 inch so it’s snug) = number to cast on

6 stitches per inch X 17 (18″ head – 1 inch) = 102 stitches

Okay, how cool is that?  Once you get proper gauge then you whip out your pattern, pick the appropriate size and knit baby!  Practice makes perfect. So try doing a gauge for everything until you get the hang of it.  The length and width of a scarf or blanket can be determined by making a gauge. Try it and you will be so happy you had. Finishing a perfect knitted item is the best.

Happy knitting