While browsing lots and lots of different patterns and projects on Ravelry, I have noticed a great deal of notes saying the crocheter’s gauge was correct, but the finished project seems a little small or a little big.
This gauge issue has been bothering me a long time. And, I’ve been trying to work out a way to communicate how to match gauge to the designer with as much ease as possible.
A common problem that will certainly affect finished garment size is that many people will choose their bra size when choosing a garment size, which is incorrect. Your bra size is actually your underbust size. If you choose that garment size, your finished garment will certainly be too tight.
To be safe, take out your tape measure and measure around the fullest part of your bust, wearing the garments (undergarments or under shirt) you intend to wear with your crocheted garment.
Now, take a look at the finished sizes in your pattern. For most patterns, you’ll want to have at least two inches more across the chest. In some cases you may want more. Three or four inches is common, except in something you want to be tight-fitting. In some rare instances, the finished garment is stretchy and is actually less than your actual chest size. This is called negative ease. But, it’s not as common. You can stick with positive ease most of the time.
Now, we’ve covered one reason for something fitting a little differently. And, you now know that it’s crucial to actually measure yourself.
But, let’s take a look at something that’s a little less obvious.
You have completed a gauge swatch. You are rocking along because you measured perfectly and you have 4 stitches to every inch as stated in the pattern. Perfect! Carry on.
Now, you’ve crocheted along the entire hem of the garment. You’re about 4 or 5 inches into it. It’s time to measure that garment! Don’t take it for granted that your gauge is still spot on.
Okay, you measure and, according to your schematic, your goal is 48″. But, wait! Your gauge was perfect and you’ve got 50″! What happened?
The reason why this happens can be seen using mathematical calculations.
First, your foundation row has, say, 196 single crochet. Your finished garment should be 48. 196 divided by 48 is 4.08333 stitches per inch. Multiplied by 4, the 4″ gauge swatch is 16.3333 and the pattern will state 16 stitches, rounding it off.
Now, you have your finished piece which is 50″. Taking the same 196 stitches and dividing by 50″, gives you 3.92 stitches per inch,15.68, rounded to 16 stitches per 4″.
Yep! The same thing!
This is just a difference of about .16 per inch. A mere 4% difference in the size of your single crochet from the designer’s single crochet is causing a two-inch difference in the finished hem!
You can see how easily this can happen even when making something as small as a hat.
But, you can determine this information ahead of time. Take your foundation stitches and divide the finished garment measurement and you will be able to find out, before you get started. You will be able to quickly discover whether the actual gauge is just a tad more or a tad less than the stated gauge so that you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking at before you start. (And, you can even make slight adjustments if you need a bit less or a bit more.)
Though, like I said, I’ve been battling over this for a long time. How can I quickly and easily let you know how tightly or loosely I crochet? After all, I’ve told you before…. gauge is nothing more than how tightly or loosely the designer crochets. And, the suggested crochet hook is simply the one the designer used. It’s just a suggestion and clue about it. Nothing more.
But, is there a way I can actually show you how tightly or loosely I crochet? Can I tell you that ahead of time? Is it possible for me to somehow let you know so that you have an idea whether you need to automatically go up or down in hook size when you’re trying to match my gauge?
And, yes! The solution is to have you join me in a gauge experiment!
Here is a swatch worked in Caron Simply Soft. I used an I hook. I started with a chain of 14 and worked 13 single crochet for a total of 15 rows.
This swatch is 4″ square.
Now you can try it. Take an I hook and readily-available Caron Simply Soft. Make a swatch just like I did. Is it exactly 4″? If your swatch is too small, use the next size hook up. If your swatch is too big, use the next size hook down and try it again. Continue trying, if necessary, until you have a 4″ square.
And, there you have it! If you achieved a 4″ square with an I hook, you are crocheting at the same gauge I am. Theoretically, you would be able to use the same size hook I suggest in my patterns.
Following this same theory, if you had to use a K hook, you will know automatically to start off with a larger hook when using my patterns. And, if you had to use an H hook, you will know to go straight to a smaller hook when using my patterns.
I really do encourage anyone and everyone to try this experiment. (Remember that it will only work with exactly the same yarn I used.) Post your results here. Post your results in my Ravelry Group. Or, on Facebook. I’m curious to know your findings in this experiment.
While this is all theoretical, I am hopeful that it will give you a pretty good idea of how your crocheting tension varies from mine and will, in the end, save some time for you.
Always remember, though, that no one crochets exactly the same as the next person. It’s just not possible. The key is, of course, to get as close as possible, realizing that everyone is going to be different. My goal here is to simply give you a little clue, in the easiest way possible, so you have a bit more “ammunition” before you get started on one of my designs. :-)