Last week, I posted about knitting for the series over at Domestic Cents, Almost Lost Domestic Arts. I didn’t get a chance to post a gauge swatch, so here is one! As you can see, it is big enough to see how it would look if I was knitting a whole project like a scarf or a sweater. However, it is not so big that it takes forever to whip one up.
To make a gauge swatch:
- size of needles called for in the pattern you are going to use
- yarn you will use for your project
Cast on enough stitches to measure about 6 inches. If you look on the pattern, it will say something like 24 sts. = 4 in. This number (24 stitches) is a good place to start. If you know that 24 stitches should equal about 4 inches, then 2 inches would be 12 stitches. 24+12=36, so if you cast on 36 inches you should have close to 6 inches, give or take a few stitches.
Knit enough rows to equal about an inch. By this time, you should be able to measure the width of your swatch. Mine was 6 inches. You want at least 4 inches worth of stockinette stitch (knit one row, then purl one row), along with some border of garter stitch (knit every row). To do this, take the total number of inches wide your swatch is (6). Subtract the number of inches you want in the stockinette stitch (4). The result for me is 2 inches. Divide this by 2 (since you will have the garter border on both sides of the swatch). For me, this is one inch on each side.
Knit enough stitches to equal one inch (or the number you came up with on the last step). Write down this number. Purl until you have the same number of stitches you knitted at the beginning of this row. Knit these.
Knit the next row.
Repeat last two steps until you have about 4 inches in the stockinette stitch.
Knit enough rows to equal about an inch. Cast off. This is your swatch.
Lay your swatch flat. Place a measuring tape or ruler on your swatch, where the stockinette stitch begins. It should measure about 4 inches. Count the number of stitches that are in an inch. If there is a split stitch in an inch, count the number of stitches in 2 inches. (It’s a little hard to see from the picture, but if you count to one inch, you get about 7.5 stitches, and if you count to 2 inches, you get 13). If you counted the number of stitches in one inch, multiply this number by 4. If you counted the number of stitches in 2 inches, multiply the number by 2. This is the number of stitches you have in 4 inches. If the number you came up with is higher than the number indicated in the pattern, you might want to try using a slightly larger needle. (On mine, I got 26 stitches for 4 inches, which is 2 more stitches than the pattern from above. Because of this, I would go to the next size needles up). If the number you came up with is lower than the number indicated in the pattern, you might want to try using a slightly smaller needle.
When you have determined the size of needle you should use, you can rip out your swatch and use the yarn for your project.