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Making a Gauge Swatch




The first step of any knitting project is to knit a gauge swatch to ensure that the dimensions of your finished project will be correct. A gauge is the number of stitches to be worked over 1 inch of knitting using a particular stitch, weight of yarn, and needle size. The gauge for our basic scarf project is 4 stitches to 1 inch, knitted in stockinette stitch (alternating knit and purl rows), with Aran-weight yarn on size-9 needles.

Follow our basic knitting instructions to knit a swatch at least 6 by 6 inches. To determine the number of stitches you need to cast on for 6 inches of knitting length, multiply the number of stitches in 1 inch of knitting (specified by your instructions) by 6. So, for our basic scarf project, which specifies 4 stitches per inch, you will need to cast on 24 stitches. Knit until your swatch is 6 inches square. Bind off loosely, and lay the swatch flat.

Check your gauge by measuring the swatch; since the stitches at the edges tend to curl inward, or become misshapen, measure just the inner 4 inches of the swatch. Place a tape measure parallel to a row of stitches, and count how many stitches (how many Vs) fall within these inner 4 inches, including half stitches. Divide this number by 4, and compare it with the specified gauge (4 stitches to 1 inch). If there are fewer than 4 stitches per inch, your knitting is too loose; use needles a size smaller. If there are more than 4 stitches per inch, you are knitting too tightly; use needles a size larger.

Martha Stewart Living, November 1997



Reviews (2)

  • lmtpou812 7 Mar, 2009

    Great Idea ! SuchFun. thanks, Lmt

  • SuchFun 4 Jan, 2008

    What to do with all those gauge swatches you knit up.
    - Pin on a tag that tells the yarn and needle size used for the swatch for future projects that would use the same yarn.
    - Toss them in a wide open basket for a splash of color in your craft room or den.
    - Once you have a pretty good size collection, sew, weave, knit, or crochet a group together to make a fun crazy patchwork type throw.