How to Make a Gauge Swatch

How I check my gauge for a new project.

Gauge is not always critical for a crochet project, but for clothing items and hats, it is something you need to make sure you have correct. I wish someone told me this the first time I made a hat. It was supposed to be toddler sized, it turned out larger than a men’s XL hat.

Most patterns where gauge is important will have what your gauge should be at the top of the pattern, usually with the information on the yarn being used.

So lets begin our gauge swatch.

Materials:

  • Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Blue, or any other worsted weight (#4) yarn.
  • Hook: 5.5 mm or I-9
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or measuring tape.

Abbreviations Used (US terminology):

  • ch – chain stitch
  • hdc – half double crochet

Swatch Time!

Start with a slip knot and ch 20.

Row 1: hdc in the 2nd ch from hook, and hdc across (19 hdc)

Row 2: ch 1, turn your work, 1 hdc in each stitch across (19 hdc)

Row 3-16: repeat row 2

Gauge swatch.

Now its time to measure! But first, some tips. Do not measure your whole square. You want to measure the 4”/10 cm in the middle of the square. That’s why we made it larger than the 4”/10 cm the example calls for. Also, if the gauge is something like 3 hdc = 1 inch, you want to measure several inches, and then divide to get your stitches per inch.

My gauge for rows of hdc.
My gauge for stitches of hdc.

So, from this swatch, my gauge is:

11 rows = 4”/10 cm

13 hdc = 4”/10 cm

Now, to calculate stitches per inch, we just divide our number of stitches by inches measured.

13/4 = 3.25 hdc/inch

11/4 = 2.75 rows/inch

Then I grab a little tag, a write down my swatch information and attach it to my swatch. Now whenever I am working with Red Heart Super Saver, and a 5.5 mm/I-9 hook, I know what my gauge is. I like to do this for each brand of yarn, since there is such a large range of sizes for each weight of yarn.

Now, I feel like I am a pretty average crocheter tension-wise. If you have to many stitches, you crochet tighter than me, and need to move up to a larger hook and re-do the swatch until your numbers match. If you have fewer stitches than me, then you crochet looser, and need to switch to a smaller hook and repeat the swatch.

To get the correct number of rows, you need to watch how tight you are holding your working yarn. If you have very high tension on your working yarn, your stitches will be shorter. If you have very loose tension on your working yarn, your stitches will be taller. Make sure you adjust your tension accordingly to make sure your garments come out the right size every time!