Have you ever finished a knitting project and done everything just right, only to discover it’s turned out much bigger or much smaller than you intended? So many of us have had that experience! There are a lot of ways we can end up with different results than the one shown in the pattern photographs, but a very common challenge is getting the same gauge. Knitting gauge can make a big difference to the final look and size of the project.
In the photo above, we’ve got 3 hats (all knitted from the adorable Top This hat kits), and at first glance it might seem like they are all the same size. And in fact, they are all knitted from the exact same pattern instructions, to the exact same size. But, they are not the same size! If you look more closely you can see that the owl, on the left, is a little smaller than the elephant, in the middle, and the blue bear is yet bigger.
The only difference between these three hats is the needle size used to make them. The owl was knitted on 5.0mm double-pointed needles, the elephant on 5.5mm needles, and the bear on 6.0mm needles. Each hat is the exact same hat except for the needle size, and this has resulted in three slightly differently sized hats.
In knitting, gauge is the number of stitches and rows per amount of knitted fabric. Usually this is indicated as stitches/rows over 4″, or over 1″, along with the needle size used to obtain that gauge.
However, you personally might not get the same gauge when using that same needle size – personal gauge can be very different from knitter to knitter. It’s very possible that if we got a group of ten knitters together and we all used the same hat kit and 5.5mm needles, we would also get ten slightly different hat sizes among us.
When you’re knitting something like one of these little hats, it might not be a big problem, because hats are small and quick. If it comes out too small, you can give that one away to someone else, and knit a new hat using a larger needle size to get a larger hat. However, just imagine the difference with a larger item like a sweater, shawl, or blanket!
For larger projects, knitting a swatch is always recommended to be sure of gauge (for projects in-the-round, a hat can be a good gauge swatch too!) For smaller projects you might decide to just take your chance based on what you think will work out best, and then knit it over again if you need to. It’s all a very personal decision! Keep in mind that knitting gauge can make a big difference to your final result. Join me tomorrow, for an alternative long-tail cast on!