How to Gauge?



Some people will read this title and just not even bother to read the content. A lot of students have come into my class thinking that gauging a project is a waste of time, but the importance of this practice to your project will always show up in your finished project. Usually I have these students converted by the time they leave.

I had this one student who crocheted beautifully. In addition to the class work, she was crocheting a project at home (64 Squares that made up an Afghan) and each square worked a different stitch. She was trying to push herself to learn more stitches, and as she brought in each square weekly everyone admired her work. Each square was done to perfection as far as the stitch was concerned; but she thought since it was an afghan that gauging was really not that important. Then one day she came in almost in tears, for when she went to put the squares together she had discovered they were different sizes. Not much, but enough to make a difference when they are sewn together. So much work and beautiful as well. Still she would not see a finished project without taking apart seventeen of the squares she had done and re-working them. A few students stayed after and helped her rip out the squares, and happily, she was actually laughing about the whole situation by the time she went home. She also developed a new habit from that day, for after that she swore she would never start another project without taking the time to gauge.

I am sharing this story because I believe taking the time to gauge your project could make the difference in your project coming out to the desired size or not. Making a gauge swatch usually takes five minutes, but it could make such a difference in the outcome of your project.

The best definition I have heard about gauging came from Lyons:

“Gauge is the term that is used to define the proper tension you should work to insure that the crocheted piece you make will be the right size when it’s completed. The hook size listed in the pattern is just the size used by the designer to work at the proper gauge. You may need to change hook size in order to work at the given gauge. It is especially important to work to the proper gauge when making garments — anything that you want to fit properly!

Gauge is usually defined in the pattern by a ratio of stitches and rows to a given measurement such as 16 stitches and 14 rows in single crochet = 4″. You should always work a swatch of fabric (approximately 4″ x 4″) in the stitch pattern of the piece you are making. Then count the number of stitches and rows in the measurement designated by the gauge given in the pattern. If you find that your swatch has more stitches and rows than the gauge, you are working too tightly so change to a larger hook and try again. If you have fewer stitches and rows in the area, you are working too loosely and should try a smaller hook. Keep changing hook size until you arrive at the proper gauge.”

How to gauge:

To achieve gauge means to crochet the number of stitches and rows per inch which the pattern specifies. This is the procedure I usually go through before I start my project.

1. Make a square swatch of 4 x 4″ out to the desire pattern you are crocheting using
    the suggested hook size at first.

2. Take a ruler (I like using the Susan Bates Knit Chek Needle Size and Gauge Check Card  

    pictured above) and count the number of stitches across and the number of rows in your  


3. If you have to many stitches per inch, try using a larger hook.

4. If your have not enough stitches per inch, try using a smaller hook.

5. Just keep changing hooks until you get the desired gauge.

It is that simple, that is all there is to it. I have made it a rule in my life, whenever I am starting a new project, the first step is to make a 4 x 4″ square swatch and to get the proper gauge for my project. I want to give my project the best chance to come out looking as close to perfect as possible.

Do you have an opinion on gauging? I would love to hear it. Is it something you have made a regular habit in your life?

Until next week, keep those hooks flying.





About crochetwithpassion

I have been certified through the Craft Yarn Council both in teaching and Instructor. I also have been teaching people to crochet for over fifteen years. This is what I will be doing through this blog. In the Crochet Master Class there are 18 projects. Some of the projects will be familiar to me such as Hairpin Lace; Tunisian Crochet; Filet Crochet; Double Ended Crochet; painted Crochet; Aran Crochet and Irish Crochet. However there are several in the book that are new and have peaked my interest and that includes the following: Woven Crochet; Tapestry Crochet; Entrelac Crochet; Fashion Crochet; Tassels; Bullion Stitch; Overlay Crochet; Bead Crochet; Bruges Crochet; Free-form crochet and Wire Crochet. Since Crocheting is a time consuming craft I will only be posting once a week. If you are like me and love to crochet but would really like to challenge yourself to go beyond what you are now doing, come along with me and move to the next level. Although the actual patterns will not be posted (copyright law) I will take you through each project and go through the process of each one. This is not a blog about free crochet patterns or selling crochet tools. What I would like to do is take you with me on the journey through this book as I learn and crochet each of 18 projects. I will attempt to crochet each project in the book, and in the process recording in detail my progress and the problems I encounter along the way and the process I went through to accomplish each project. I am hoping that you will not only learn from my experience but that it will inspire you to push yourself to the next phase in your crocheting skills. Until next time; keep those hooks flying.
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14 Responses to How to Gauge?

  1. LeeAnne says:

    I am very glad I read this before trying my next project, so far everything I have made I have not worried about gauging because the size or style or whatever didn’t seem to make it important, but the project I am about to start really does need to have the pieces the right size so thanks to your little story I will definitely make a gauge swatch before I begin. thanks a lot

  2. Thank you very much. I appreciate the comment. Look forward to hearing how your project comes out. Please keep me updated.

  3. tristan hart says:

    how you can update fb in china…..?i genuinely desire to apdate it

  4. Tristan: I am not really sure what you mean. Does fb stand for facebook or something else?

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  7. Connie Lynch says:

    So I DO believe in gauge, but I seem to have squat little stitches, lol. When I get the right width in my gauge swatch, the height isn’t right! Do you have any suggestions?

    • Barbara says:

      have you ever tried to manipulate the “golden loop”? – its the first loop you pull through the stitch from the row below; if you pull that one out more, the stitch will grow in height. I have tried that for double crochet, but it should also work for sc, hdc, tr and so on.
      Good luck!

  8. Barbara says:

    And don’t forget to wash and block your swatch, especially if your working with natural fibers. I forgot that, when I made a buttoned Cowl out of a beautiful Merinoyarn. Well, after washing I was surprised how much the Cowl had grown! Actually, I was very glad, that I had not woven in the ends, because I had to frog some of it and change the button placement.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. This is a way to help others not go through the same thing.

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  12. Nina Landis says:

    How about patterns that say ‘gauge is not important’? Any way to figure a gauge for them? I have several hat patterns that say that then I make them and I wind up with a preemie sized hat rather than an adult size. It’s very frustrating. I have checked gauge on several of my projects and I am typically having to go up 4-5 hook sizes to get it right. My stitches are nice and symmetrical and look correct….can I seriously be putting that much more tension into my hold?? Any help is appreciated!! 🙂

  13. On the label of your yarn it will tell you the average gauge for the hook…sometimes you could use this as a starting point to help.

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