Measuring your knitting stitch gauge

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We are getting ready to start our Carbeth Cardigan and it’s important to check our gauge so we know our finished sweater will fit as expected. We want to make a nice piece to measure stitches.  

 Creating a knitting gauge swatch

Creating a knitting gauge swatch

With my US 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles I cast on 20 stitches and made a tidy little swatch about 22 rows tall. The pattern calls for gauge to be worked in stockinette stitch so I needed a good section of that to measure. These stitch counts don’t matter too much, we just want a flat area to measure stitches but here's what I did:

CO 20 sts. Knit 4 rows.
Next row: K3, p14, k3.
Next row: K across.
Repeat these two rows 14 more times. 
Knit 4 rows.
Bind off.

 Soaking a knitting gauge swatch

Soaking a knitting gauge swatch

When finished with the swatch it’s time to block the swatch. I gave my swatch a good soak in cool water. I let it get fully saturated and sit in the bath for about 15 minutes.  

 Drying a knitting gauge swatch

Drying a knitting gauge swatch

When you take the swatch out of the water it will be very wet and very out of shape. Simply set it on a towel and roll it up to soak the water. 

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When you unroll the towel the swatch will feel weak and floppy. That’s ok!

 Allow knitting gauge swatch to dry completely 

Allow knitting gauge swatch to dry completely 

Carefully set the swatch on a fresh dry towel, shape it into its natural form and let it dry. This is not a swatch we are going to pin or stretch. We don’t want to pin or stretch our finished sweaters so we treat our swatch just how we would want to treat our sweater. 

 Reading the stitch count on a knitting gauge swatch

Reading the stitch count on a knitting gauge swatch

 How to count stitches when checking knitting gauge

How to count stitches when checking knitting gauge

Baa Baa Bulky yarn really bounces back during this process. It felt really wet and pathetic after its bath but when dry this yarn will fill in the gaps. When the swatch is fully dry — probably the next day — we check our stitch count. I like to use a firm ruler that can just sit on the knitting. Each stitch forms a “V” and I normally count from the 1 over 2 inches. 

I get 3.5 stitches per inch, or 7 stitches over 2 inches, or 14 stitches over 4 inches which is the requested gauge for the Carbeth Cardigan. 

If you find yourself with a looser gauge than 3.5 sts/in you will want to move down in needle size. Maybe swatch with a US 10 (6 mm) needle and check again. 

The Carbeth Cardigan calls for "gauge-size and below gauge-size needle(s) of appropriate lengths for working body" which means we want whatever size needle helps us get 14 sts/4 inches and also the needle one size below. So if you get gauge on a US 10.5 (6.5 mm) needle then you'll also want a US 10 (6 mm) needle for working the ribbing.

Check in, ask questions, keep knitting!

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Email me if you have any questions! (It's always me on the other side of that form.)