Crochet gauge is how you can be sure that your finished project ends up being the right size. This is especially important when making any kind of garments, because you’ll want them to fit correctly.
Even though we all learn to do things the same way, we each will add our own style. Crochet is no different. We’ll all learn to work the stitches in the same manner. However, some people will work those stitches tight and others will work them looser, while others will work them somewhere in-between. We each have our own style . . . and that’s great.
In crochet, though, you’ll want your stitches to create the same gauge or tension as the pattern that you’re following. If it doesn’t, it could change the size of your finished piece. That’s why it’s so important to get the correct crochet gauge.
In this picture there's 2 swatches that were worked by the same person (me), with the same number of stitches, the same rows and using the same stitch. The only difference is the size of the hook. You can see that it makes quite a difference.
Every pattern will have a gauge swatch and /or a gauge notation. You should always work your gauge swatch before you begin your project. It’s very disappointing to complete your piece only to realize it’s not the right size.
Gauge swatches are generally 4”x 4”, unless you’re working in rounds. Don’t worry if it’s different than 4”x 4”. The pattern will specify exactly what stitches and how many to work for the correct swatch for that piece.
Here’s an example from a pattern:
Materials: Medium weight yarn
Crochet hook size I (5.5 mm) or size needed for gauge
Gauge: 13 sc and 16 rows = 4” (10cm)
Gauge swatch: 4” (10cm) square
Row 1: sc in second ch from hook and in each ch across. 13 sc
Row 2-16: ch 1, turn, sc in each sc across.
This tells us that we need to crochet with hook size I, using medium weight yarn.
After you crochet the swatch and finish it off, lay it on a hard flat surface. Measure the height and width of it. If it measures 4” x 4”, you have the correct gauge and you’re ready to continue.
If it is smaller than 4”, you are working the stitches too tightly. Try the swatch again using a larger size hook.
If it is bigger than 4", you are working the stitches too loosely. Try the swatch again using a smaller size hook.
Keep working, trying different sized hooks until you have the right size for the swatch. Getting the right gauge will be an important part of each pattern.
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