Gauge FAQs: How To Adjust Crochet Gauge and Other Common Questions

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How to Adjust Crochet gauge and other FAQs

I’ve walked you through the complete process of measuring crochet gauge and showed you why it’s important to wash your gauge swatch. At this point, I’m sure you have questions about gauge. And you’re not alone! Chances are, other crocheters have asked the same questions.

So today, I’m going to answer some of the frequently asked questions I see about gauge in the crochet community. Let’s get right into it.

What if I have too many stitches in my gauge swatch? What if I don’t have enough?

Let’s say you need 16 stitches in four inches but your gauge swatch has 20. If you have too many stitches in your desired measurement, you need to make those stitches bigger so that there’s not so many of them in that desired measurement. This means you need to go up a hook size if you have too many stitches.

And then the opposite of that, what if you don’t have enough stitches? What if you need 16 stitches in four inches, but you’re only getting 13? In the case where you don’t have enough stitches, you need to go down a hook size so that you will be able to make more stitches in that desired measurement.

How do I adjust my crochet gauge when my swatch has too many or too few rows?

This follows the same concept as the stitches. If you have too many rows, go up a hook size. For too few rows go down a hook size.

What if I need more width but not more height?

In other words, what if your row count meets gauge but your stitch count does not? For example, if you need 16 stitches x 10 rows in four inches, and you’re getting 16 stitches but you’re only getting eight rows, what do you do then? So for this case—and in most cases—you’re going to think about your stitch count.

Take, for instance, the Blushing Eyelet Crochet Tank Top that I’m wearing below. It’s worked in the round from the top down. First and foremost, I need to make sure that my stitch count is correct. This applies in any case where the number of stitches determines your width. That includes if you’re working from top down or bottom up, either in the round or in rows, back and forth.

In that case, you want to achieve the correct width (or stitch count) in your gauge swatch, more so than the correct height (or row count). This is because if you don’t meet width, your project will be too loose or too tight. Once you meet width, height can easily be adjusted by adding or subtracting rows.

A little bonus tip: This idea also comes in handy if your gauge swatch meets the correct height but you prefer a longer top, like a tunic or dress length. So you can add rows to your project to give it more length, even when it meets the gauge.

The exception: When to focus on row count

The only time you won’t focus on width is if the number of stitches determines the length of the garment. So if you were working in vertical rows, like in my Maxwell sweater, that’s the only time you would consider number of rows first.

Does gauge matter in all types of projects?

You may be wondering if gauge is something you really have to do for every project. I would say if you’re following a pattern and you want your project to have the same size, look, and feel as the pattern you’re following, checking gauge is an important step.

There are some projects where gauge may be less important. Blankets don’t necessarily have to be a certain size. They can be whatever you want them to be. Or if you are crocheting a scarf, maybe it’s not that big a deal. But then again, you don’t want it to be too wide or too thin.

Ultimately, for things like blankets or scarves, it’s up to you. Even still, knowing how to check and adjust crochet gauge can give you a better idea of how your finished object will turn out.

What if I met gauge in my swatch but my gauge is off for the project?

So what if you met gauge and figured out your hook size, but then you’re working on my project and it is off. It is coming out too wide, or too long, or whatever. What do you do? That’s a tough case, and something I still deal with myself. It has to do with our tension, or how tightly or loosely we crochet.

Our tension can change constantly. For me, when I’m crocheting late at night, I’m crocheting way looser than I am first thing in the morning. I don’t know why. It’s weird. But that is just a thing that happens to every crocheter. And so it’s very important to check your project periodically to see if your tension is changing.

If your gauge is changing, if your project is getting wider and wider, you need to be more mindful of your tension and tighten it up a bit. Or if your gauge keeps changing, maybe go down a hook size. Play around with the hook sizes and see which one consistently gives you the correct measurement.

Setting Milestones

One way to ensure correct gauge throughout the garment is to set up milestones. When I’m having patterns tested, I ask my testers to stop every so many rows to check gauge, check measurements, and check fit. I think it’s a great thing to do when you’re crocheting a garment for yourself as well.

Set stopping points to check your crochet gauge and adjust if necessary. Check your measurements. Try it on. Put it against your body and see if it fits. See how the length is. So definitely check often.

If you notice that your gauge changing partway through the project, you have a few options. You can frog it and go back to try to keep your tension the same. Or you can play around with the hook sizes that you use to get the right measurement that you need.

Do I need to check my gauge every time I work the same pattern?

Say you made a sweater in 2020 and you want to make another one in 2024. You wrote down the hook size you used. So do you really need to check your gauge again? Or can I just go in with the same hook size? And the answer is YES, you need to check gauge every time you work the same pattern.

If you watched my step-by-step tutorial on how I check gauge, you will see that I had to change my hook size from the original hook size that I used for that pattern. That pattern came out not even three years ago. In that time, my tension and everything has changed. I had to go up several hook sizes from the original. Even though I used the exact same yarn, I had to adjust my hook size. So I always recommend that you check gauge every time even if you’ve made the project 100 times.

The only instance where that wouldn’t be the case is like if you made a hat and then you immediately started making another hat, right then and there. If you’re using the exact same hook and yarn, it will probably pretty much be the same. But if you go like a year, or even a couple of months, in between making the same project, definitely check your gauge again.

Final Thoughts about Gauge

I knowing checking gauge can feel like a chore. It feels like a pain when you just want to get into the project and start it. But it is really a time saver because if you check gauge, you will know if your tension is different, you need a different hook size, your length is off, etc. If you know these things ahead of time, you’re really avoiding having to frog that whole project and start over because it’s not the right size or your tension is different. I can’t recommend it enough.

I hope you’ve learned lots of helpful information about how to adjust crochet gauge, why it matters, and when you need to check it. If you have any other questions about gauge that aren’t answered here, please comment below and let me know. I’m happy to answer them!

And don’t miss my other videos on gauge! In my step-by-step crochet gauge tutorial, I walk you through the entire process in detail. Then, in the next video, I drill down on why it’s important to wash your gauge swatch when crocheting garments.

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