Archive for February 10th, 2014

A subject that keeps surfacing in the knitting community is whether it is okay if a knitter can’t get row gauge, but is spot on with stitch gauge. The answer is no, it’s not okay. If I can’t get row gauge I have a lot of pencil, paper and calculator work ahead of me.

Row gauge is the ruler of lengths. The shaping of a piece occurs over a set amount of rows. If my row gauge doesn’t equal the gauge given, all shaping will be off if I follow the pattern shaping as written.

What to do?

First, I find my row gauge over 4″ / (10) cm. Why 4? It’s a standard number. It’s also an even number. Even numbers are the gold standard of knitting because everything is done in twos. Knitting has a RS and a WS (2 rows). Decreases and increases are often paired occurring at each end of the needle (2 ends).

Second, after finding my row gauge I make a note of the “raw” number. A “raw” number is the actual number I get when I divide the number of rows I counted by 4″ / (10) cm. Often the “raw” number is not nice and even. For example, I counted 30 rows over 4″ / (10) cm. 30 divided by 4 = 7.5 rows per inch. (30 divided by 10 = 3 rows per 2.5 cm) Neither answer is an even number. Next, I need to make a conscious decision. Do I round 7.5 up or down? Do I leave 3 as it is or round it?

For calculation purposes I decide to leave it as an open question, a decision I will make on a case by case basis.

For instance, I knitted a sweater that had 2″ (5) cm of really noticeable waist shaping. The waist was meant to pull in dramatically over a 2″ length. The pattern gauge was 24 rows over 4″. 24 divided by 4 = 6 rows per inch.The waist shaping with pattern gauge occurred over 12 rows. (2″ times 6 rows per inch = 12 rows).

My “raw” waist shaping numbers were 2″ times 7.5 rows = 15 rows. My rounded up gauge waist shaping numbers were 2″ times 8 = 16 rows. My rounded down gauge waist shaping numbers were 2″ times 7 = 14. I decided to adjust the waist shaping over 14 rows. Once done I checked it against my body to see if it needed to be changed.

Another crucial row gauge area: armholes. The initial shaping of an armhole for an adult sweater usually takes place over no more than the first 1″ or 2″ (2.5 or 5) cm. Again, I need to fit the number of decreases the pattern calls for over my row gauge.

All in all, not getting row gauge is an important issue. The knitter needs to calculate the pattern lengths to fit his / her gauge if he /she wants the piece to fit right.

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