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Calculating gauge

ccssbgsbp | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

I am changing needle size to achieve the fabric I like but I can’t figure out the ratio in doing that – the gauge given for the yarn is 6″ to an inch . . My swatch was 48 st. and should have measured 8″but I changed to #5 needles.   On #5 needles , 48 sts gave me a swatch only 7.25 inches wide.  There is answer out there somewhere, I know but for the life of me my calculations end up looking like a Click and Clack weekly puzzler.  Can someone help me? 


  1. BernaWeaves | | #1

    I'm going to assume you are knitting.  (Edit:  I just now noticed this was under the Knitting heading.  It wasn't when I first responded.)   By 6" to the inch, I assume you mean 6 stitches to the inch.  " is the abreviation for inches, so I read that as 6 inches to the inch, which didn't make sense to me.  (Edit:  I've been knitting for 45 years and I've never seen " refer to stitches, so someone let me know if that's new, please?)

    Don't measure the whole swatch.  For starters, you might be stretching the edges since they curl on some patterns.  And secondly, you'll go mad trying to figure out how many stitches to the inch and you'll still be wrong because the selvedge stitches don't have the same width as the rest of the swatch.

    Knit a swatch roughly 5 inches square, but only measure a square in the middle of 2 inches.  It's easy to divide by two to get the number of stiches in one inch that way.  There are knitting templates out there with needle sizes and a 2 inch square for measuring which is easier than using a ruler, but a ruler will do. 

    Make sure you pay attention to half and quarter size stitches.  For example, if the 2 inch square has 9 1/2 stitches in it, then you have 4 3/4 stitches to the inch.  DON'T round up and think that's 5 stitches to the inch, because once you multiply that out for 40  or 50 inches around a sweater, you'll be off by several inches.   

    You'll just have to keep making samples on different size needles until you get the number of stitches to the inch that the pattern requires and the tightness you knit.


    Edited 6/1/2008 5:52 pm ET by BernaWeaves

    Edited 6/1/2008 6:00 pm ET by BernaWeaves

  2. GailAnn | | #2

    I see that Berna is helping you, good.  I posted an answer, too, back under Ask Amber.

    I'd like to add that whatever the original guage is, it doesn't really matter once the new guage has been established.  Always use the new guage.

    I have a sweater to fit my refrigerator, just to remind me.  Gail

    Edited 6/2/2008 9:17 am ET by GailAnn

    1. ccssbgsbp | | #5

      Thank you for your understanding.  My husband has a sweater that would fit Rosey Grier (PSU football player who knits, just in case you are very young).  We keep it for emergencies.

      1. GailAnn | | #6

        Not too young to remember Rosie from his prime.  Gail

  3. Gloriasews | | #3

    Some people who have trouble with gauge draw a full-size paper pattern of what they want to knit or crochet & keep checking their work to the pattern until it's the right size.  Lily Chinn does that with her crocheting.  She says it doesn't matter what yarn or needle size you use then - whatever you like the look of in your swatch.  That might make it easier for you & you can adjust sizes easier that way, too, if you are using a pattern that isn't in your size range.  Just a thought.  Good luck!


    1. ccssbgsbp | | #4

      Thank you.  That sounds as though it will solve my present problem atnd perhaps those problems ye to come.  Thank you so much for your help

      1. Gloriasews | | #15

        jTry it out & see how it goes.  That way, you don't have to worry about special yarn, needle sizes, your own size, etc.  Good luck with it - let us know how it's going.


        1. ccssbgsbp | | #21

          Even in knitting, I guess you can be accused of thinking too much.  Now that I have my gauge, the pattern says to CO 104 st (at 6 st per inch and 18" indicated on the pattern sketch as the width for the back which calculates to 108 st) and with my new calculations at 61/2 st per inch equaling 117 for 18" - I'm just going to bite the bullet and start knitting.  One has to take a stand somethime - !!! For Heaven's sake, I'm not building a bridge - it's a sweater!

          Thanks for your your wonderful reality check.  - C. 

          1. Gloriasews | | #22

            You're welcome.  We do get in a tizzy overthinking sometimes & that either slows us down or we lose interest in a project if it SEEMS too difficult.  You're absolutely right - you're not building a bridge!  Relax & enjoy making the sweater - & post a pic when you're done so we can all rave about it :)


          2. ccssbgsbp | | #23

            You're a dear.  Women just understand.  If the sweater is fine, I'll send pics.  Otherwise, just pretend.  Cynthia

          3. Gloriasews | | #24

            Good luck!  If you still have problems, we're here :)


    2. GailAnn | | #7

      Oh, what an excellent idea!!!!   Gail

    3. GailAnn | | #8

      Could any sewing pattern, then be used for knitting as well????  Gail

      1. rodezzy | | #9

        Yes, any flat pattern can be used for both knitting and crocheting, according to Lily Chin.  She does both that way.

        Just remember the seam allowances must be omitted.

        Edited 6/2/2008 4:37 pm ET by rodezzy

        1. GailAnn | | #10

          Thank you, I had no idea.  What a great idea.  Gail

      2. User avater
        CostumerVal | | #11

        I'm one of those flat pattern making people.  I even trace my foot on a piece of paper to design socks.  Yes, if you have a sloper you can design any knit clothing as well as fabric clothing. 

        Seam allowances,  I personally like to use the slip 1 at the beginning, work to end.  These are easy to see when sewing them up and don't stretch out at the edge.

        Collars, cuffs, openings, pockets;  these are all design considerations that require skill, just like in sewing.  As for the body of the piece, just figure your stitches per inch and measure your pattern.  It's much easier than recalculating someone elses pattern.  Although......(don't read this part)  If you really like the other persons design, you can draw their pattern using their guage and then write your own with your own guage.  Now this will totally confuse you.  Take a really cool sock for instance.  The pattern says "do this at row10".  I see that their row 10, at their guage is 1 inch, and my big fat foot needs that at 1 1/4".   At my guage of 12 rows/ inch, I'll pull off their "do this"  at row 15.

        Sorry if I've totally muttled the issue.  Val

        1. GailAnn | | #12

          Actually you've given me some good food for thought.  I'd never even considered this angle to knitting, and I find it fastinating.

          I have knitted socks for my husband.  He loves them, wears them often and is demanding more.........

          I've never made a pair of socks for myself, because of my wide calves.  I LOVE the wonderful ladies knee socks where the cuff turns down in lace, but I've been afraid to try them.

          O.K. now, that's on the list for next Winter's fireside knitting!  Thanks, Gail

        2. GailAnn | | #13

          OOOOOPs this is the wrong thread for this reply, I intended it to go over on the bra making thread.  Sorry!

          I hate to admit that I've paid on the far side of $60. for a well-fitting, supportive bra.

          I really bought that pattern to try to make some bra/panty sets for my daughter and niece, while seeing what I might learn along the way.  The young ladies love the sweet little bra and panti sets, but I've seen the panties alone for $32.

          Yes, Miss Val, I'd love a nice bra and panti set, myself, but in a "J" cup, I'm afraid, it wouldn't be so very little or sweet.

          I have made a servicable 2-piece bathing suit for myself, but have never been successful in making a bra.  Gail

          Edited 6/3/2008 1:40 pm ET by GailAnn

        3. GailAnn | | #14

          I slip 1 at the beginning also, so much neater.  Gail

      3. Gloriasews | | #16

        Rodezzy answered your question for me - thanks, Rodezzy!  You said just what I would have :).  You should find Lily Chin's book at your library & read it (it's an easy read) & quite inspirational.


        1. rodezzy | | #17

          You are welcome.  My son bought me Lily Chins book for my birthday in January.  It was a very interesting read.  Learned a lot from it.

          1. Gloriasews | | #18

            What a great gift from your son!  That book is on my wish list, too.  I especially like the sweater with the ripple V panel down the front.  Of course, I could go ahead & make it without the book, but I want to read the book again, anyway - Lily has such good advice.  I like that light green sweater near the end of the book, too.


          2. rodezzy | | #19

            At my last craft meeting, some of the members were asking me lots of questions, and I finally told them that if they read the magazines and books that they have, lots of their questions would be answered.  I read the stories, articles and some patterns in my craft and sewing magazines and books.  Also, my quilt books.  I have some books that just discuss tips and FAQ's in them for quilting and other topics. 

            These ladies have tons of books and magazines, and they laughed when I told them to read, confessing that they just really breeze through them looking at the pictures, never reading the much of the content.  Myself, I probably do more reading about stuff than doing stuff.  But when I get going I usually already have a concrete idea how to do something, if not, I do use the books and magazines for reference.  That's why I re-ordered that "Crochet School" book that I gave away.  It has some very different motifs and crochet techniques in it and I really do need it to create my own designs. 

          3. Gloriasews | | #20

            I do the same as you - my reference books are truly reference books.  I have to admit that, at first go, I 'read' the pictures, but I certainly return to them for information when I need it.  Same with magazines.  I only save the articles I know I'll need one day.  It sure saves a lot of space, & time that I otherwise would have spent looking for them.  I keep them in binders (same with some quilt patterns & sewing techniques).


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