It is inevitable that I will get asked about row gauge when I’m discussing gauge (and I’ve been discussing gauge a lot lately). What happens when your stitch gauge is perfect but your row gauge is too short?
Here’s the thing. The gauge stated in the pattern is the project gauge. It isn’t the gauge of a tiny little swatch. It’s the gauge of the full project, with all the manipulation of the fabric and the blocking and the gravity! Oh, yes! Not only is math involved, but science is involved too.
Gravity is good! As my 7-year-old says, it keeps us stuck on the ground. But, it can apparently wreck havoc on trying to get gauge.
Tug on the swatch a bit from top to bottom. You are trying to mimic gravity here. Are you getting gauge now? What did that do to the stitch gauge? You may be so close to gauge at this point that it could mean going up just one more hook size. Tug on the new swatch. Row gauge heightens. Perhaps stitch gauge decreases. Are you closer now?
If all else fails, the primary goal is stitch gauge. Most garments are worked horizontally, so stitch gauge is the initial goal. If your row gauge is too short, you can simply add extra rows until you reach the stated measurement or follow the schematic.
Always add an even number of rows to maintain pattern compatibility.
My purpose in writing so much about garments and gauge recently is because so many of you are afraid of making crocheted garments. There is absolutely nothing scary about it. Swatching, like I’ve said, is crucial to finding out what’s going to happen to your garment when it’s cleaned. This allows you to plan ahead. It also allows you to get comfortable with the stitch pattern. This “bonding” is a good thing. It gets you to your normal, relaxed tension.
You should never, ever be afraid of crochet garment patterns! They are just as easy as afghans and throws. You just have a bit of shaping so that you can put your arms through. Stop getting so wound up in the gauge swatch that you give up. When you think you’re close, just grab your yarn and hook and make some piece of the garment. Measure it and see how close you are. Who cares if you can’t get a perfect swatch? It’s not the swatch that has to be the right size. It’s the garment that you need to be the right size. Stop getting stuck in the Swatch Game of Thorns!
Just go forth and conquer. With all the crocheted ready-to-wear garments on the racks, I know you want to do it yourself. Just do it. I know you can!