4 Tips for Getting More Use From Your Gauge Swatch

Mar 14, 2013

After crocheting for over forty years, Lily Chin has learned a trick or two-how to manage loose ends, create the perfect beginning chain, and speed up your crochet just to name a few. And in her new workshop, she shares over seventy of her best tips and tricks. She'll even teach you a new thing or two about the simple gauge swatch.

  Designer Lily Chin

We all know that we should crochet a swatch before beginning a project, especially a crochet garment. But while that swatch will give you a much better chance of creating a garment that will fit as you intend, I have also run into instances when my gauge swatch and the final garment did quite match. Lily offers four tips for creating better swatch.

Remembering Your Hook Size

Have you ever finished your gauge swatch, then been sidetracked by another project or event in your life? I know I have. Remembering which size I used to create that perfect gauge swatch, if I used a size other than the one specified in the pattern, can be a futile task, and I have to begin again. But Lily has created an ingenious and simple way to remember what hook size she used. She simply works a series of picot stitches, corresponding to the hook size used, along the edge of the gauge swatch. So if you use a size F hook, work five picots along the edge of the work (B, C, D, E, F = 5).

Bitmap Cowl by Lily Chin, Interweave Crochet Accessories 2012

Gauge Swatch Size

When you are crocheting your gauge swatch, always make it bigger than the given gauge. So if the gauge for your project is 20 double crochet stitches and 12 rows equals 4 inches, work a gauge swatch that is at least 6 inches by 6 inches. This larger swatch allows you to measure your four inches across an area of interior stitches and does not include the edge stitches or turning chains that can be messy and alter your measurements.

Work Your Gauge Swatch Over a Couple of Evenings

We all know that our crochet gauge can change with our moods. After a stressful day at work, our gauge might be a little tight, but after a hot cup of tea that gauge can tend to run a bit loose. This might be the reason why you swatch to the exact pattern specifications but your finished garment turns out too large or too small.

Try spreading your swatching over a couple of evenings. This will more accurately replicate your true crochet a gauge.

  Thistledown Tunic by Lily Chin, Interweave Crochet Fall 2012

Measuring a Hung Swatch

Laying your swatch flat on a table and measuring gauge works great for afghans and home décor items that will lie flat when finished, but crochet garments spend most of their time being worn vertical. Gravity can alter the gauge measurements in a way that is not predictable when the swatch is measured flat. So try measuring your swatch vertically. Simply hang your swatch from a wall or corkboard using tape or pins. You can also clip clothespins to the bottom of the swatch to emulate the weight of more fabric.

A gauge swatch is also a great way to practice an intricate stitch pattern and determine if you will enjoy crocheting it for an entire project. And don't toss the swatch. One of my favorite tips from Lily is to save the swatch and wash it with your garment. The swatch then becomes a great resource for matching yarn in case you ever need to make repears.

I will never look at crocheting a gauge swatch the same way again. Download or order The Crocheter's Toolbox: Lily Chin's Techniques and Tricks for Savvy Crocheters today and add a few more tools to your crochet toolbox.

Best wishes,

P.S. Do you crochet gauge swatches?


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Char55 wrote
on Mar 14, 2013 5:58 PM

You stated "So if you use a size F hook, work six picots along the edge of the work (A, B, C, D, E, F = 6)."

If you did that you would be wrong. Crochet hooks start with "B" not "A" and an "F" hook is a size 5; if you put 6 picots, you would have used a "G:" hook.

The is now a "7" hook which does not have a letter designation. An "H" hook is an 8; an "I" hook is a "9"; a "J" hook is a "10" and for some unknown reason a "K" hook is "10-1/2"

annwiseman wrote
on Mar 17, 2013 8:27 AM

The reason a K is also a 10 1/2 is that it corresponds to the same size diameter if it were knitting needles!  Look at the millimeters for both and they match.  Also note that one brand of hooks has N as 9mm and another brand has N at 10mm; P and Q vary as well.  Those cards with the sized holes come in handy to test these wayward hook sizes...  Here's a link to a chart:  en.wikipedia.org/.../List_of_United_States_standard_crochet_hook_and_knitting_needle_sizes

Char55 wrote
on Mar 17, 2013 5:48 PM


I've noticed that difference (in mm) too. I have a gauge ruler that also has the holes in it to properly size the hook. It comes in quite handy. Think I got it with a magazine subscription many years ago.