It’s tempting to tear into a new project the moment a new pattern hits your Inbox, but checking gauge is an important first step in any new project.
We all crochet – or knit – slightly differently. Grip the hook a little tighter, a little looser, and you can have a much different finished product than intended.
Gauge simply refers to the number of stitches per inch and the rows per inch from a particular yarn using a particular size of crochet hook. When you gauge a project, you’re crochet a swatch to see how your own work measures up against that of the pattern writer’s, even if you’re using the same hook size and identical yarn.
You’ll want your sample swatch to be about 4″ x 4″. Count the number of stitches and rows noted in the pattern you’re following (e.g., the pattern I’m working on today says Gauge: 6 sc = 1 inch; 6 sc rows or rnds = 1 inch). Don’t use your chain row in the measurement calcuation, as those stitches will be smaller than the others.
If your work and the patterns are the same, great. If not, experiment with hook sizes. If you have fewer stitches and rows than defined in the pattern gauge, move down a hook size (and try another swatch with the new hook size). Likewise, if you have more stitches and rows than the pattern gauge, move up a hook size.
Click here for a good tutorial on how to crochet a swatch to check for gauge.