Raglans are particularly effected by row gauge. Take a look at 2 row gauges:
See how much longer the garment is in the armhole section? This is an illustration of the same raglan worked at 2 different row gauges.
Often, we’re told that row gauge isn’t that important, but this is definitely NOT true for raglans. Or garments in general.
The above illustration is an extreme example – the right side has a row gauge A LOT greater than the one on the left. But even a small difference can make a real difference – especially if the pattern is in rows versus inches. Read further for your options.
If you’re getting a different row gauge than the stated gauge, you have a few options.
Option 1: Block Your Swatch
This is the easiest option, and one you should do regardless. Once you work your gauge swatch, make sure you block it. Try different methods of blocking it too – wet blocking, steaming and even drying it.
Note that these different options will result in different gauges. Usually, cotton or linen yarn can LOSE as much as 20% when wet blocking. This has a big effect on gauge.
Losing length is never a good thing, but keep in mind that the final product is the REAL product.
Option 2: Try Different Needles
If one set of needles doesn’t give you the stated gauge, you can try switching it up. Often, changing from metal to wood can give you a different gauge. Typically, metal will give you a tighter gauge than wood.
Another option is to change from a pointier to a duller needle (or vice versa). This effects gauge differently for each knitter. It depends on how you knit.
Option 3: Change the size of the Needles
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Option 4: Recalculate the Pattern
I give this as the last option, mostly for completeness. It’s a lot of work to recalculate, and it often requires you to change the rates of increases or decreases. It’s possible, but it requires a good amount of work and isn’t a trivial exercise.
Yes, row gauge matters
If you’re making a garment, particularly a one-piece raglan, you need to look at row gauge in addition to stitch gauge. They’re both critical to the fit and your success of the FO. Don’t put all that work into the garment without checking on the gauge first.
If you liked this article, you may also want to read Why Row Gauge Matters.