What is Gauge in Crochet?
What does gauge mean? It's an important term in crochet. We'll go over gauge in crochet to help you understand and perfect your skill.
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If you crochet (or knit), there is an important term to know: gauge. Though it's not essential for every pattern, yarn gauge is going to come up a lot in your work. What is gauge in crochet? Gauge is the number of stitches per inch and row.
A lot of factors are involved in determining gauge. Each crocheter has a different tension when working up a pattern. Gauge is also different depending on the hook size used.
To help you check gauge in crochet, we have put together this resource with everything you need to know about this term, including how to understand it and how to find your gauge.
Understanding gauge in crochet will help you develop your skills and perfect your patterns. There are few things worse in crochet than ignoring gauge when the pattern has a recommended gauge.
It may result in a wrongly-sized crochet piece or with the details not looking correct.
That's why we want to teach you how to check gauge in crochet. First, we will go over how to find it on yarn labels and in crochet patterns. After that, you will find some general gauge rules that should help you understand the basics.
Then, learn how to measure gauge on your projects and create your own swatch to see how your tension compares to the standard.
Table of Contents
When you buy yarn, you will notice that there is a lot of information on the label. It will include, in part, the weight, laundry care information, type, length, hook size, and gauge. In the image above, you will see a few yarn label examples. The yarn label gauge is circled in red on each label. Learn how to read yarn labels here.
What you will see and what it means:
- Since yarn is used for both knitting and crochet, there is information on both. Find the square with the crochet hook inside it. This will have all the gauge information you need.
- You will see the hook information, usually both the mm and U.S. sizes.
- The standard gauge measurement is 4 inches x 4 inches or 10 centimeters x 10 centimeters (This is the swatch size. You will learn more about this in the Crochet Gauge Swatch section below). You will find this information around the square, most often with the centimeters on the top and the inches on the left side.
- Often on the right side of the square, you will see how many rows this gauge will create. It is abbreviated as "R" and will have the number before it. On the labels shown above, it has "8R" on the left label, "12R" on the top right label, and "19R" on the bottom right label. So, if you make a 4 x 4-inch swatch, you should have that number of rows if your gauge is correct.
- Often on the bottom of the square, you will see how many single crochets each row will have. It is abbreviated as "SC" and will have the number before it. On the labels shown above, it has "7 SC" on the left label, "10 SC" on the top right label, and "15 SC" on the bottom right label. So, if you make a 4 x 4-inch swatch, you should have that number of rows if your gauge is correct.
If you don't know how to count your rows, be sure to read this article and learn: How to Count Crochet Rows
Now that you understand yarn label gauge, let's learn how to read crochet gauge in patterns. Most patterns will mention gauge, whether it is important or not.
In the materials list, you will usually see something like this, "Size U.S. L/11 (8 mm) crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge." You will also see copy like this a lot, "CHECK YOUR GAUGE. Use any size hook to obtain the gauge." These statements mean that if your gauge is the same as the recommended gauge for the project, you can use the suggested hook size. However, if it doesn't match, you will want to use another hook size to have the size match up.
Sometimes the gauge specifics are included with the materials list (as shown on the bottom right image in the collage above) and others have a separate gauge section (as shown on the left image in the collage above or the pattern example shown below).
The Red Heart pattern for the Lacy Floral Throw (part of the pattern shown in the bottom right of the image above) includes this information about gauge:
GAUGE: Rounds 1 and 2 = 4"
(10 cm) across; One Square = 17
x 17" (43 x 43 cm). CHECK YOUR
GAUGE. Use any size hook to
obtain the gauge.
What does it mean?
Rounds 1 and 2 should equal 4 inches/10 centimeters across. One square of the pattern should equal a 17-inch x 17-inch/43-centimeter x 43-centimeter square. And, if the measurements do not match up, you will need to change your hook size to larger or smaller, based on the measurements.
The Yarnspirations pattern for the Tweed Under Wraps Poncho (part of the pattern shown below) includes this information about gauge:
9 sts and 11 rows = 4" [10 cm] in
Texture Pat with smaller hook.
What does it mean?
9 stitches in each row of 11 rows should equal a 4-inch x 4-inch/ 10-centimeter x 10-centimeter square in the texture pattern with the smaller hook recommended for the pattern.
Sometimes gauge is not important. In the top right image of the collage above, it says, "Gauge is not critical for this project."
What does it mean?
When the gauge is not critical for a particular pattern, it means that the type of yarn, stitches, and overall style of the pattern does not need to follow exact measurements to be crocheted correctly. The approximate measurement they provide is a helpful guideline but the project will not be ruined if it is slightly larger or smaller.
Yarn Gauge Chart and Basics
We made a quick crochet hook gauge chart for the estimated stitches (sts) when using each yarn type. For a complete chart and more information, visit the Craft Yarn Council page on the Standard Yarn Weight System.
Under each yarn image, it will provide the suggested number of stitches and crochet hook to use (US terms).
Crochet Gauge Swatch
So, how do you figure out gauge in crochet? The easiest way is to use all the information you have learned above and put it to practical use. The reason the stats are included on the yarn labels and in patterns is so that you can create a crochet gauge swatch to find your personal gauge. As mentioned earlier, a traditional swatch is 4 inches x 4 inches so that is what you will need to create. The Crochet Crowd has such easy to understand directions for making a swatch on their Crochet Gauge Workshop page, that we recommend heading over there and following their instructions (image below courtesy of The Crochet Crowd).
Basically, you will follow the label/pattern instructions and then measure. How do you measure your swatch? Scroll down to the next section!
How to Measure Crochet Gauge
There is a simple "formula" to follow when it comes to figuring out your gauge. Don't worry, it's easy!
Once you have your swatch, get a fabric tape measure. Measure 4 inches by 4 inches and then count the stitches and rows within that section. If it does not match up, you will have to adjust your tension or change hooks. A larger hook will allow you to make a bigger crochet piece and a smaller hook will create a smaller piece.
Before you head off to crochet, make sure you know everything there is to know about crochet hooks. This page will help: Crochet Hook Sizes: Choosing the Right Hook Size
How to Make Your Own Crochet Pattern >>
Do you have any other questions about gauge in crochet? If so, let us know in the comments below and we will try to answer!
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