A knitting gauge of 2.75 sts?

May 28, 2007 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

Dear SweaterBabe, I am a new knitter and have a pattern for a bolero jacket that calls for a gauge cast on of 2.75 sts. How do you get 2.75?” — Diana M.

Dear Diana, I’m assuming the gauge is stated as 2.75 sts per inch. My first step would be to be to figure out how many inches you can measure across to get a whole number (vs. the fraction) of stitches so you don’t have to try to count partial stitches.

In this example, if you measure across 2 inches, you’ll need to count 2.75 x 2 = 5.5 stitches, which is still a fraction. Across 3 inches, you would count 2.75 x 3 = 8.25 stitches, which is not easy to count. But, over 4 inches, you can count 2.75 x 4 = 11 stitches, which is much easier to do. So the gauge to aim for is 11 stitches to 4 inches.

It is more important to match gauge as closely as possible when you are making garments (vs. blankets or scarves). So if this is a bolero, I would recommend taking the time to make at least a 4 x 4″ swatch to give yourself enough room to measure across 4 inches accurately.

Often, it is tempting to just cast on 1 inch of stitches (in this case 3 stitches), knit a few rows, then measure. But I STRONGLY advise against this in cases where you really want the finished measurements to come out right. It is too easy to “fudge” your measurement when you have too small a swatch. Stitches may measure a little differently across a few stitches in one part of a swatch vs. another (just due to variations in hand-knitting tension, the nature of the yarn, etc.), so measuring over several inches will help average all of that out and give you a much more accurate measure. You should also bind off the swatch, not leave the stitches on your needle. This too will help you get a more accurate measurement. AND, you should knit a few inches of rows, so you can measure across a row in the middle that is not too close to your cast on or bind off edges, which can also affect your gauge.

AND even if you do all of the above, I would still recommend measuring your work after you have knit a few inches of the first piece (which is usually the back piece of a garment). At this point, if your expected width does not match your work, you can still unravel and not have lost too much time and effort! Believe me, after having made MANY garments that have been off just a few inches here and there, I take the time to check my gauge multiple times now to avoid painful rework or (worse!) the disappointment of a finished sweater this just doesn’t fit as well as I’d like.

There is much more to say about gauge… more to follow in upcoming newsletters! Please email specific gauge questions to me at advice@sweaterbabe.com.


Entry filed under: Ask SweaterBabe, Knitting Questions and How to.

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