This has become a hot and highly-contested topic in the Crochet world. Given that, I’ll try to give you facts and you can decide what to do with it.
What Is It Called?
Gauge is the US term. UK/Canadian English will often use the term Tension, so you should be familiar with both.
What is It?
Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows over a set measurement (e.g., Stitches Per Inch).
Why Do I Care?
Matching the gauge to what’s given can help in several ways:
- The stitches can have the correct amount of airiness or tightness.
- The finished size of the piece will be able to match what’s listed on the pattern.
How Do I Measure It?
Take a measuring tape or ruler and measure both the width and length.
It can often be easier to measure a larger number, like 3 or 4 inches.
Also, make sure you avoid the edges because they won’t be consistent. In the below, I’m measuring 3 inches.
If your gauge is given for a smaller number, I suggest you convert it to a larger number. Here are a few examples
|Original||What to do||What it Means at 4 inches|
|5 stitches per inch||Multiply by 4||20 stitches per 4 inches|
|12 stitches per 2 inches||Multiply by 2||24 stitches per 4 inches|
I’m Close to the Gauge
Just make sure that you’re truly close. The easiest way to check is to see what the piece’s sizes would be at the full measurement.
Check if You’re Really Close
So, if your gauge is (say) 3.5 stitches per inch instead of the stated 4 stitches per inch, are you close?
Let’s say that you’re crocheting a scarf, and the full size is 8 inches. At 3.5 stitches per inch, your width would be 9.15 inches instead of 8 inches. It’s up to you to decide if you’re ok with this.
My Friend Got Gauge with (this hook and yarn), so I’m All Set
I wish this was the case, but unfortunately it’s not.
One person might get gauge with a certain hook and yarn, but this doesn’t mean that you will.
There are lots of ways that gauge is a very personal thing, including:
- How tightly or loosely you crochet
- How you actually make the stitches
- How a specific hook material impacts your crochet
- Whether (and how aggressively) you block an item
What if I Don’t Match Gauge?
If you can’t get the gauge that’s listed in the pattern, you have a few options:
- Do nothing and know that the piece won’t come out to the same dimensions.
- Change yarns.
- Change your hook (read our advice on Hooks and Hook Materials).
This is just a sampling of what’s in our Crochet 101 PDF!