The amount of space that a stitch takes up is critical to every knitting project.
You might hear that row gauge doesn’t matter. I would say that it matters LESS in a lot of cases.
Row gauge is important so you get the correct length. This can sometimes be addressed in a pattern by saying things like “work for 6 inches”.
But, if you have increases or decreases, they’ll be placed differently. And, if you’re working a stitch pattern, it can look either stretched out or pushed together.
A small difference in gauge can result in a big difference in the size of the final piece.
Here’s an example
Let’s say you want to make a shawl that’s supposed to be 60 inches in width and 20 inches in depth, with a gauge of 5 Stitches Per Inch and 6 Rows Per Inch.
This is a gauge of 20 stitches and 24 rows.
Now, let’s say you got a “close” gauge of 18 stitches and 20 rows. And, you used the same cast on numbers.
Instead of 60 inches and 20 inches, your shawl would be 67 inches in width and 24 inches in depth.
If you like the look, then you either need to change the numbers or adjust your expectations of size.
You have a couple options. You can either change the needles or you can change the yarn.
You’ll need to do another gauge swatch with either option.
If you don’t meet gauge, you should know that your yarn needs may change. I would suggest a backup plan.
The easiest option is to buy more yarn so it will be in the same dyelot.
If there’s a place in the pattern where it can naturally be a different color, you could use a different color for that “extra” yarn.
You could also just use a different dye lot for that other section.
I would NOT just add a different dye lot because you’ll likely see a line.