Does anything make a novice knitter cringe faster than talking about knitting gauges?

They shouldn’t.

Knitting gauges can be essential to following your knitting pattern directions.  An accurate knitting gauge prevents that adult size sweater from fitting only a child, or a giant.

Knitting gauges are simple measurements that help knitters compensate for the normal variations in tension when knitting, and in differences in yarn.  Yes, normal variations.

Knitters vary in how tightly or loosely they knit.  That’s okay.  It’s part of a hand knit garment.  There’s also a wide variety of knitting yarns, even within one type.  Look at different worsted yarns sometime.  The size of the thickness of the yarn varies from yarn to yarn.  Add specialty yarns with unusual textures, and you can see the wide variety of options.

And yes, it’s true.  I don’t always follow the designer’s suggested yarn.  I often use what I have on hand … can get easily … or can afford.  And adapting the pattern includes knowing the knitting gauge.

So, knitting gauge is important when making a fitted garment.  Something three-dimensional.  Like a pair of socks or a sweater.

As opposed to a flat scarf, where the width may not be as important.  Or dishcloths.  Does it really matter if your dishcloth is a half an inch wider or narrower than the pattern?

Some of my recent dishcloth projects

Probably not.

Another place you’ll often find knitting gauge important is with certain stitch patterns.  Some cables, lace patterns, or even fabric-like patterns can lose their pattern if knit with the wrong gauge.  Again, this is usually a three-dimensional pattern.


It helps me to remember three dimensional when I think about whether a knitting gauge is important.

Knitting tip: once you’ve made several knitting gauges, you’ll realize they aren’t that hard or time-consuming.  When in doubt, stop and knit a gauge before starting your project.

It may save you time and trouble later.



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