Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Word About Gauge

Gauge Square for Rowan's Sampler Afghan
Row 1: With J-hook, chain 14, double crochet (dc) in 3rd chain (ch) from hook and each ch across. (12 dc) Row 2: Ch 2, dc in each dc across. Repeat Row 2 for a total of 7 rows. Should equal approximately 4” square. If larger than 4” try the same swatch with an I-hook. If smaller try with a K-hook.

Why is Gauge Important?
Most Crochet patterns give you a gauge square to make before you begin the project. The tension with which we hold our yarn varies from one crocheter to another making the same pattern with the same hook appear looser or tighter. Checking your gauge will allow you to change to a larger or smaller hook to adjust your stitches to the size you need for your pattern. Taking time to complete this small square will allow you to create a finished project in the size you actually want.

In general, it is better to go a little on the small side than slightly bigger. For this project, if your gauge swatch measures 4 ¼”, by the time you make a 9” square it will measure at least ½” larger. You can always add to a too small square, but there is no way to fix a too large square except to pull it all out and start over again.

When do I Need the Gauge?
If you are making a hat, sweater, or other garment, I highly recommend checking your gauge. Otherwise you may get half way through your project and realize you have to start all over because the garment will never fit. Or hopefully you have a friend or relative who is actually the right size you can give it to. My aunts each got a sweater years ago they probably never wore. But at least I felt good about giving a handmade gift.

When making an afghan or scarf or other flat item, the gauge square is not quite as important. As long as you do not mind it being a bit bigger or smaller. However, I would recommend checking your gauge for this Sampler Afghan Pattern. Because we are using so many different stitches and in case you decide to make a few squares to donate on their own, it is important to check your gauge so your 9" squares can be combined with those made by others.

What Do I Do With All Those Little Squares?
Some people just pull out their guage swatches so they can reuse the yarn for their project. But I like to save them. My 1 year old has a lot of them mixed in with her toys. She likes to feel the various textures. They also make great blankets for her littlest dolls, or sew a few together for a bigger doll. I have also used a number of my test swatches in making the Playscapes I designed for my son a couple years ago.

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