How to Knit or Crochet A Gauge Swatch with Kristin Omdahl

Knit or Crochet A Gauge Swatch with Kristin Omdahl

The standard way to check gauge is to make a square of fabric about 4 in (10cm) wide by 4 in (10cm) tall (or a motif as indicated in the pattern for gauge with the suggested hook or needle size) and in the indicated stitch with the recommended yarn. Hand wash your swatch and lay it flat to dry before measuring.

Most often the pattern will tell you what stitch pattern to use for the gauge and indicate whether it should be worked in rows or rounds.

Why Make a Knit or Crochet Gauge Swatch?

We make things that need to be laundered! How the yarn is affected by water is a huge component to the measurement of gauge. If you are making lace, this is even more important.

Depending on how the gauge is spelled out in the pattern, you might need to measure a stitch and row count, a pattern repeat, or a motif. Make sure to pay attention to this detail.

Achieving correct gauge significantly improves the quality of a knit or crochet experience because it is the difference between making things that fit the first time and not having to remake something multiple times.

Gauge is not critical for every project. If you are making something that doesn’t need to turn out the exact size of the pattern sample, and you don’t mind if it looks different, like an afghan or a dishcloth, than you can choose to skip this step. But keep in mind that a significant change in gauge will also affect yardage.

However in hat, sweater and sock gauge is very important. It is worth taking the time in the beginning to achieve gauge before beginning a sized project.

How to Block a Knit or Crochet Gauge Swatch:

First, knit or crochet with the specified yarn, hook/needle size and specified stitch pattern. Then, wet your swatch with either a steam iron or soak it in lukewarm water and squeeze out excess water. Using t-pins and a mat, stretch the fabric until taut and pin into place with straight edges. Allow to dry. Often the final gauge is slightly smaller after the blocked piece has dried. You may notice it shrink back when you remove the pins. Notice the size difference on the ruler before and after blocking. Our sample went from 4.5 in tall x 10 in wide to 5.5 in tall x 11.5 in wide.

What To Do When Your Gauge Doesn’t Match the Pattern:

If your swatch is larger or smaller than the specified gauge it is perfectly fine to change your hook or needle size. For example, let’s say your swatch is too big. Try again with a smaller hook or needle. If your swatch is too small, try again with a larger hook or needle. In these samples, notice how different the same stitch pattern and same yarn look, but with three different sized crochet hooks! These are shown in Be So Sporty Yarn worked in rows of double crochet. But the hook size varies for each swatch from a 3mm crochet hook, a 4mm crochet hook and a 5mm crochet hook.

How to Find Your Knit or Crochet Gauge:

To find your gauge, place a ruler on the blocked and dried knit or crocheted fabric and count how many stitches and rows are in 4 in (10cm). If your measurements match the measurements of the pattern’s gauge, congratulations! If your swatch is larger than the 4 in (10cm) square, try going down in hook or needle size. If your swatch is smaller than 4 in (10cm) square, try going up in hook or needle size. Our personal tension is unique when working with our hands. You may even find that your personal tension varies with your mood, comfort level with a pattern, the time of day, and more. Not all patterns list gauge by a 4 in (10cm) square. Take your measurements according to the pattern you are working.

Yarn Substitution and Gauge:

Learning and understanding the standard yarn weight system is invaluable in case you choose to substitute a different yarn for the one referenced in a given pattern. Fiber content, weight (thickness) and personal tension (gauge) are also factors, but the first step in making a yarn substitution is learning about the yarn weights and what they mean. The symbols 0 – 7 are generally listed on a yarn label and that is a great way to substitute at a glance. Most yarn labels have this symbol listed, or the yarn company should be able to provide you with this information.

Every Kristin Omdahl knit and crochet pattern is listed with yardage of a specified yarn weight along with the specific yarn used in the project. In this photo, the same stitch pattern and the same crochet hook are used to compare three different weight yarns.

Shop Kristin Omdahl Yarns HERE

Shop Kristin Omdahl Crochet Patterns HERE

Shop Kristin Omdahl Knitting Patterns HERE

I would love to see your creations. Just as much fun as making these myself is the satisfaction I get from seeing my designs come to life and other crochet fans wearing them too. There are now 2 ways you can share what you have done!

  • Share yours by joining  Create. Share. Inspire on Facebook where you can interact with me as well as many other members who have a love of knitting and crochet just like you! It is a wonderful and safe place to share your photos of finished projects in my knitting or crochet patterns or yarns, and to see what others are making, too.
  • I have recently added a wonderful new interactive section to the website which I invite you to take part in, it has been a smashing success and such fun so far. It is the new “Share Your Project” section. You, my creators, can upload images and descriptions of your creations to share with the ever growing community! To upload simply click here. 

Additionally, I host a livestreaming podcast weekday on my YouTube Channel called Create Share Inspire Podcast. You can join the audience and even ask me questions LIVE! I often do a show and tell, or quick demo and I always interact with the live audience. It is a lot of fun!

You can browse through close to 1000 previously recorded episodes HERECreate Share Inspire Podcast Playlist . Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel to get reminders when the next episode airs LIVE.

I look forward to seeing what you create!

Kristin donates a portion of every sale to her charity Project Kristin Cares, which supports survivors of domestic violence. Learn more at 


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