Let' Talk about Gauge
And why its HELLA important
When I first started crocheting I purchased a lot of patterns. With those patterns I was introduced to the word gauge. Back then I didn’t think anything of it. It was just another unimportant thing that was standing in the way of me and my next crochet project. Like yeah, the pattern designer clearly said to do a gauge swatch before starting the pattern BUT rules were meant to be broken right? WRONG!! Definitely not in this case! That pesky little gauge is what determines whether my project will come out, too small, too big, or PERFECT!
What is Gauge?
Before we can understand why gauge is important, we must know what gauge actual is. Well the word gauge means to determine the exact dimensions, capacity, quantity, or force of; aka to measure.
When we use gauge in crochet we are measuring how many stitches equal an inch in WIDTH and how many rows make an inch in HEIGHT when using a specific size yarn and hook. For example if a pattern said:
W/3.5mm hook and paintbox simply dk yarn, 5 rows of 10 dc is 4x4
All this means is that with a 3.5mm hook and the paintbox simply dk yarn, every 10 stitches that the designer made was 4 inches wide, and every 5 rows that the designer made was 4 inches high. That is the project gauge.
Why is Gauge Important
Now that we know what gauge is, we can get into why its important. Because every hooker crochets with different levels of tension (some make looser stitches, while others make tighter stitches) we can all follow the same pattern and they all come out in different sizes even though we all did the exact same thing. Gauge insures that you and the designer whose pattern your following are making stitches the EXACT same size. It guaranteeds that your project will come out the size that the designer intended. Gauge is ESPECIALLY important in garment making patterns where your measurements really matter. Gauge also makes the materials you use for the project universal. You could literally use any size hook or yarn so long as your hitting the projects gauge, or making the exact same size stitches as the designer.
Still don't believe that Gauge is Important?
Let’s say that you purchased a super cute sweater pattern like my Bob’s Sweater Hoodie and the gauge is the same as the example that we used above. Instead of making a swatch of 5 rows of 10 dc and measuring it to make sure that it created a 4×4 square, you skipped the gauge swatch step and jumped right into making the project. You’re using the EXACT same materials as me (the designer), there is NO way your swatch could be off, so you think. WRONG!! You just so happen to crochet with a WAY looser tension then me so instead of every 10 dc being 4 inches wide, every 6 of your dc are 4 inches wide. But of course you don’t know that because you didn’t check the gauge. You go on following the pattern and it tells you that for your size you need to make a starting ch of 70 dc for your front body panel. For the designer, a starting ch of 70 dc is equivalent to about 28 inches and if your gauge matches the designers, it should for you as well BUT your gauge doesn’t match because you crochet way looser and you didn’t check to make sure you were hitting gauge. So instead of your 70 dc being 28 inches wide, your 70 dc is about 42 inches wide!! This would make your body panel nearly DOUBLE the size that the desginer intended for it to be! Now imagine you spend DAYS on end working on a project only for it to come out the wrong size all because you didn’t wanna take 15 minutes to check the gauge!
To wrap it up...
GAUGE IS IMPORTANT, especially in garment making. Whether you’re following along to a pattern, or designing and writing one. You must always check and adjust gauge. Take a deep breath and read this article again and truly innerstand what this means. As a designer, knowing and understanding gauge will absolutely change the game for you and unlock many techniques and skills that you can apply to elevate your game. It’s the first step in figuring out how to size up and size down your patterns mathematically BUT thats another story, for another day!
I hope you enjoyed this article! There are many more to come. Comment below and let me know what kind of skill building topics you want me to cover next time. Also follow my social medias in the links below so you don’t miss out on ANY content. As always, Happy Crocheting and STAYYYY SUNNYYYY!!