Sunday, 14 June 2015
Easy DIY template for measuring Knitting Gauge.
How often I have seen comments from people that their finished project didn't match the pattern measurement:
"The sweater doesn't fit me! But I used the yarn and needles that were on the pattern! " She wails.
Yes sure: But did you measure your gauge? Yes; your gauge, not the gauge the pattern designer got with those needles and that yarn!
We all knit in slightly, or very different ways. It is very important to work a gauge swatch before starting your project!
Yes I know that you can't wait to get going and start this fantastic new design! But patience and get that swatch done!
An average gauge swatch should be at least about 4" x 4" (10cm x 10 cm) That gives you enough to measure stitches and rows. Elizabeth Zimmermann recommended measuring over 3" making it easier to get an average. A swatch should ideally be worked in stockinette if the pattern gives gauge in stockinette or in the stitch pattern indicated. Be Warned! Different stitch patterns can give very different results!
I usually start my swatch with a few rows of garter stitch, then work in stockinette with a few stitches in garter at each edge. I end with a few rows of garter stitch. This helps avoid the swatch rolling up on itself.
If the pattern calls for the swatch to be blocked, then block it as the finished garment will be. You can even wash it if you feel the yarn may change after washing! If the designer has given specific instructions follow them!
In every case let it rest for a while before measuring. That is something I learnt in my machine knitting days. It will then take the final form.
Lay it flat and use the stitch gauge template to measure it. Place the template on top and count the stitches and rows in the "window"! I used to find that with pins and rulers or measuring tapes I would be counting wrong, maybe counting a partial stitch as a whole one which on a big garment with many stitches and rows can give a significant difference in size creating an ill-fitting garment.
Now how do you make your template?
To make a simple stitch gauge template you just need some medium weight cardboard.
I also used some graph paper, a pencil, glue, a ruler and a sharp cutter. (A sharp knife would do).
Decide what size template you want to make. I made two here, one to measure 3" and a smaller one to measure 1".
I drew a square one inch bigger than the template on some graph paper for ease, and another the size I wanted inside.
I glued the template on some cardboard. Then using a sharp cutter and a ruler as a guide, I cut the inner part leaving a "window". Very simple.
Just place the the template over the swatch and it is easy to accurately count the rows and stitches that you see.
If you make a 4" template you will divide the results by 4 to get stitches and rows per inch; for this 3" one I divide by 3.
I find a smaller 1" one very useful when making my doll patterns.
The bigger the swatch template, the more accurate your results will be. Remember to include partial stitches when calculating!
Easy? Please let me know what you think of this!