Someone Call The Doctor, I’ve Just Checked My Gauge… I Must be SICK!


Reading a pattern Tips

Pre-reading a pattern.

I cannot believe how many projects I have screwed up due to myself quickly reading directions.

I say to myself every time… I know to pay attention to things like brackets, especially when multiple sizes such as clothing are involved. However, I listen to Netflix most of time and sometimes scenes draw me in and I think I am somewhere on my pattern or quickly glance… only to pick up the wrong information.

Clothing is really difficult for me because sometimes I just need to sit in the quietness and focus. After having the afghan issue earlier this week, I realized I really have to pay attention to the gauge if I have a hope of being successful in clothing.

I’m reattempting a pattern that I failed last winter. My project didn’t turn out and seemed my pattern was way too big! Hours and hours… and more hours wasted on completing a project that is meant for giants!

After this week of screwing up an afghan because of gauge, I realized with Kristin Omdahl’s instructions that gauge isn’t placed on patterns as eye candy… it’s meant to be part of the instructions for us to use.

I really wanted my project to be successful. How can I teach anyone to crochet this pattern if my sample comes out for a Sasquatch? I can fake it but then it would put my ‘hooky’ reputation into question when my viewer’s version come out wrong.

So tonight… I am ready to tackle this again… This time, I actually highlighted most of the instructions to help me out. There are two sizes in this pattern. I think last time I was bouncing between the sizes. I also did a swatch to check my gauge as I am substituting yarn and my crochet hook. My crochet hook comes in a 0.25 mm bigger and it’s my comfort grip hook. I don’t want to use a non-comfort grip as it’s harder on my fingers and wrist…

So knowing I am changing the yarn, changing the hook… I have to be sure before I start that I am not setting myself up for a disaster before I am even out of the gate.

Now… We have received an email asking me if designers include making the swatch as part of the yarn needed for the project or whether the yarn used in the swatch is extra? I really don’t know that answer… If you know an answer… let me know.

I know for myself… if I give a gauge, it’s based on measuring the finished project and not from a test swatch. Usually if I make a swatch, I don’t cut the yarn and I take my measurements and pull it out to use the yarn. I don’t want to waste perfectly good yarn. I’m selfish that way!

Leave your comments below if you know the answer about the swatches.

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About Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Mikey, owner of The Crochet Crowd Blog. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet. I am from Ontario Canada and teach how to crochet online through YouTube Video Tutorials. From a simple idea and being at the right place and time in my life back in 2008, the concept of The Crochet Crowd was developed. I'm here to hook and share. Come follow my crochet journey and share yours with comments here and you are most welcome to share your creativity within our Facebook page.
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37 Responses to Someone Call The Doctor, I’ve Just Checked My Gauge… I Must be SICK!

  1. Marilyn Crossley says:

    Great topic! I learned so much from everyone. I haven’t made clothing so all the information is so helpful when I started with garments. I do check my gauge while I crochet a pattern. I pull out my swatch. Waste not want! That’s a great motto!

    Thanks everyone! Mikey, thanks to you too!

  2. I have always been a gauge tester, whether it be by swatching or measuring a few rows into the pattern. I learned a hard lesson a few months ago especially when using an expensive yarn. I made a hat with American Bison Wool and it fit my husband perfectly. I washed the at and it softened up a LOT. It got slightly larger and shorter. so I tried to shrink & block it back to size and it grew even more! It seems the nature of buffalo wool is that it softens and the the stitches loosen when it is washed. So I learned to make a swatch and wash it ! Block it and wash again before beginning a project. Adjust the number of stitches per row and the number of rows to reach the correct measurements according to that swatch. It will save time and money in the long run! Changing hook/needle sizes does not always work, sometimes you have to do the math and change the numbers of stitches.

  3. I don’t always do a swatch. But if I do a pattern that I’m afraid might me hard to understand I do one just to see how hard it really is….lol.

  4. Melodee says:

    I rarely do a swatch, I’m too impatient, but I always pay strict attention to the pattern. If you don’t count stitches, pay attention to brackets, and *s you will be screwed. What you get will be anyone’s guess. The pattern instructions aren’t arbitrary, they must be followed to the letter. Believe it or not, crochet is math and therefore exact.

    It actually makes me cringe when I read how cavalier Mikey is with instructions and patterns. He calls them “lines” when every pattern I’ve ever seen over the past 45 years calls them “row” so anyone learning from him could easily be confused.

    But Mikey is inspirational, energetic, and fun, so I do my best to ignore that and his horrible grammar. ijs. I love you, Mikey, but that doesn’t improve your grammar.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Years ago I took a knitting class using an Elizabeth Zimmermann book, EZ is the mother of modern knitting. She always swatches for garments. If the project is made in the round, she makes the swatch in the round so she makes a hat using the pattern. It takes time but you get the feel of the pattern, gauge is checked and you have a matching hat for the sweater! Makes sense to me

    Not sure if the yardage includes enough for the swatch/hat. But since I love yarn, I always purchase an extra skein for any garment, unless the yarn is very pricey (can’t remember making a garment with expensive yarn, that’s for scarf/shawls). Just use the best yarn you can afford for garments, with all the work involved using cheap, scratchy yarn with make the garment unwearable and/or it won’t last long. I just made a baby dress with Red Heart Gumdrop yarn, so soft and great to crochet with, perfect for baby garments and blankets, fun colors also.

    Mikey, thank you for admitting you make mistakes and that you aren’t perfect. I think you are an awesome guy and appreciate all you do to promote crochet crafting, love you.

  6. Karen says:

    I am really bad about making gauge swatches too unless it is something to wear. Then ya kinda got to get it right! Lol ….I do rip it out and use it again….even tho I am buried in yarn, hate to waste it. I think I avoid the swatch because when you decide what to make, you just want to GET STARTED! Good luck on your new project. I am making an afghan in Entralac that I learned from your video! Using small squares (7) but looking forward to tryin the 12. Toodles! K

  7. Sandi says:

    Good Friday Morning, Yarn Dr. Mikey,
    I, too, am becoming an “yarn hoarder.” I use scraps to tie the vines on my plants.
    I “still” am learning the processes of proper crochet patterns. Like I use to tell my children, if you can read, you can do just about anything you want.
    Years ago, my oldest son (then 7) came & asked me how to fix a can of soup. I said, can you read the label? He said, yes, so, I helped him to make sure he wouldn’t get burned on the stove. He was so proud he did it by himself.
    Now, I am beginning to feel proud of myself for the tutorials you have taught me to accomplish a pattern.
    Thank you from an old mom & grandma:-)

    • Marsha Kopan says:

      I did a jacket from one of the Crochet Magazines. It was lovely on the model. I tore it down once because it would have fit an elephant. Now that it is in my size I am still a bit disappointed because the picture in the magazine shows it with a scarf so you cannot see the front of the jacket. It just doesn’t hang right on my small frame…4’10”. I’m going to wear it a few times and if I still don’t like it, I’ll donate it to charity. 😦 Lots of time and lots of nice yarn.

  8. Nancy deGans says:

    it is never a waste to crochet…even if you have to rip it out….any time crocheting is good times….

  9. Cathy Porter says:

    I LIKE THE PATTERNS THAT TELL YOU THE SIZE THE PIECE IS SUPPOSED TO DO……I AM DOING A WEDDING RING AFGHAN……AND FOR EACH PIECE THAT I HAVE TO MAKE AND JOIN IN……IT SAYS…..IT SHOULD MEASURE 6 INCHES FROM SIDE TO SIDE……….AND THE OTHER PARTS ARE DIFFERENT MEASUREMENTS……I FIND THAT THIS WORKS FOR ME……BUT I USELY DON’T DO SWATCHES……AND I MAKE BABY CLOTHES……BUT IF YOU USE THE RIGHT WOOL & HOOK…..IT USUALLY WORKS OUT…….

  10. Beth says:

    I am currently working on a sweater and no matter what size hook I use, the gauge instructions isn’t working for me. I am using the yarn they used. What I usually do is size it up to a piece of clothing I wear and take it from there :). Praying for the best!

  11. I never used gauge before, but I have never really made clothes till recently. After your video about the swatch oops I will start doing it from now on.

  12. No gauges here, but then the things I make don’t really need them as I don’t normally do clothing.

  13. Tracy McPherson says:

    Wow I must be one lucky hooker because I never check my gauge and my clothing always comes out right 🙂

  14. Debbie McNeice says:

    I never…ok make that…rarely swatch. I did recently for a slouchy hat because I was substituting yarn. Got the right gage….and the hat turned out WAY too small. Only an adult the size of a small child could wear this hat and I couldn’t frog it because it was an alpaca yarn that didn’t WANT to be frogged. So I am on the fence about swatches….in this case I am pretty sure it was wrong. I made the hat again and just winged it…turned out perfectly!!! Good thing I have granddaughters!!!!

  15. Marilyn says:

    For me it depends on the project. When I’m doing a throw I don’t get to bent about it & I will only swatch if I want to see what the wool looks like in the stitch. For clothing I swatch if I know the size of the person. Baby presents I’m usually making it bigger than the intended child in case I get delayed. Knitting I always swatch. Usually get a bit extra wool & make a hat to match the sweater, then I take the gauge off the hat.

  16. Deb says:

    I never gauge/swatch … which might explain why my latest little sweetie dress – intended for 12 no size – is now actually 24 month size! After crocheting the yoke I measured for chest size, discovered it was actually turning out more 24 than 12, so just continued on! Babies grow quick…eventually it’ll fit!

  17. Malinda says:

    I bet you could use the swatches for a mix type of blanket, that’s what my grandma use to do. But I don’t ever do swatches I just measure what I’m working on and adjust the size if need be. I hate wasting yarn.

  18. Nora says:

    Ok I’m a swatcher!! I always always do a swatch. I then block it then do my count. I also mark the swatch with a label ( this type of yarn with this size hook) I have a binder full of swatches that I can refer to, kind of like a library. Now regarding if the swatch is counted in the yarn usage, I find that depends on the designer, some add the amount of yarn into it and some don’t. I always buy more then I need just in case anyway. 🙂 hope that helps someone!

  19. diane bolt says:

    I dont gauge either perhaps i netter pay more attention i hate to gauge with passion

  20. Yvonne Cooper says:

    I really am feeling your pain! I hate it when I have almost completed a project only to realize I read the pattern wrong, or it came out to small or too large for whatever reason. That is why I do not make clothing. I made a sweater once with expensive mohair yarn, only to discover that when I went to put it together, I had 2 sleeves for the same arm, and one was actually longer and wider than the other. The same thing happens whenever I have to do 2 of the same thing like slippers, they never match!

    I have learned the hard way, to always read my pattern over completely, and highlight each section in different colors before I ever pick up the hook. If the pattern is complicated with many changes or stitch counts for each row, I do all the arithmetic on paper for each row, so that I know exactly what the count should be for each row, or set of stitches BEFORE I begin. It has saved me hours of frustration and having to start over again.

    So don’t feel like the Lone Ranger! You are not alone!

    You are a great teacher, and this too shall pass! Good luck!

  21. Sherry says:

    So newby here. I have.never done a swatch. I just measure my gauges when I crochet. I have learned, however, to highlight the sizes I am working on because it is easy to get them mixed up. I had to frog my Chunky Slippers because I started following the wrong size. I then went back and highlighted my size.

  22. Wendy Turner says:

    Sorry if this is a silly question, but what does “frog the swatch” mean?

  23. Heidi Speciale says:

    SO FUNNY..cause I never check my gauge- always forget!

  24. Wendy Medlin says:

    I don’t whether or not the yarn requirement includes the test swatch or not but I’m frugal so I know what I do when gauge is important. I make the test swatch, rip it out, and use the yarn in my project. If gauge is critical to the project, I don’t think it makes sense to measure it on the project. If it’s wrong, you have to frog the whole thing, make an adjustment and start over. Then if it’s still off, you frog and start again. By that time, I’d be over it! My technique tends to be loose so I almost always have to make adjustments. Test swatches end up saving me a LOT of time and frustration.

  25. Darla says:

    Been there. Done that. Gave myself a giant “Grrr!” of frustration. I swatch now.

  26. Dana says:

    I don’t know if the swatch amount is included in the instructions. It never occurred to me to ask. >_<

    If the yarn is one you plan to use a lot, what you could do is get an experimental skein, swatch it, wash the swatch and block it, measure to see if you got gauge and then put it somewhere like in a notebook with a note telling you what the yarn is and all the other particulars. Then you'd have it from then on. Gauge can change over time but your swatch would give you a starting point.

    Another thing is, does the yarn frog well? If it frogs well you could always unravel it but then the question becomes whether it's enough yarn to fuss over. Swatches are usually 4 inches by 4 inches unless the instructions say otherwise. I know dc stitch would use up a fair amount of yarn but some of the other stitches don't. If it's going to go asplodey on you when you frog it, it's not worth trying to save the yarn. And washing and blocking the swatch might make it behave and look differently in the finished item even if you can frog the swatch.

    Lots of considerations here…

  27. Michele Wecker says:

    I was taught the swatch is NOT extra yarn. I was taught to swatch a square, then if it is ok, undo it. Recheck your measurements as you work to verify, especially if inexperienced.

  28. Julie Birkes says:

    I took a craftsy class and it mentioned blocking and gauge swatches. The instructor said to wash and block your swatch before you measure gauge and that most patterns gauge is from swatches that have been blocked. It allows you to see how the yarn you choose holds up to washing and if you like the look of the stitch design. I think i remember hearing that yarn for swatches is counted in the pattern amount but i am not positive. (PS i have made, washed and blocked a swatch all of ONE time LOL!)

  29. Sherry says:

    This might be a little off topic but is there a chart of some sort that would tell us how big each section should be for particular sizes? Many times, my gauge is correct but the items still come out huge. It would be nice if the patterns would say how long or wide each section is. You know, like the Little Sweetie Dress… you make the skirt for a certain amount of inches. It would be cool to know how long the yoke is and when you lay it flat how wide it should be.

  30. Sharon says:

    To me the gauge and swatch is to make sure your wool and hook match the size given for the item to crochet. The pattern is given with a certain type of wool and hook and usually it says so many stitches is 4 inches etc. If you are to change those then the test swatch should be the same size as stated. It should in all actuality be done before starting your project.
    I always use a slightly larger hook as I tend to crochet tightly. If a pattern asks for a 3,5, I use a 4.00.
    I have never done a test swatch and just crossed my fingers and dug in. 🙂 So far, it has worked.
    I mark my size on a pattern with a highlighter always, to avoid getting mixed up in the pattern of more than one size. I just wish the patterns would give more than small, medium & large.
    Right now I am trying to figure out what to put on my two mad hatter hat’s and get them in the mail by Monday!! Hats were easy, its the adornments that is my problem.

  31. Roxanne says:

    A few things: First, swatches are usually done with separate yarn. You can ask this of the designers on Ravelry.com to be sure. Second, just to help you out a bit. I have favorite yarns and when I crochet, I crochet the same on each project. I use an inline hook to keep my stitches all the same. So, if a pattern calls for a swatch, I should know my guage from previous projects using similar yarn and hook. Just keep track of it when you do flat projects, measure out your results. These will be your results for most projects you do with that type of yarn and that hook. When you have done this enough you will see a swatch measurement and you should know for yourself that it takes such and such hook with such and such yarn to get that measurement. Your project should come out correctly. Third, now, as for just glancing at the instructions, this is fine, but to simplify your life, group your stitches and if need be write notes next to them, especially long instructions. Usually, after a row/round or two you know which stitch groupings go together, make yourself some shortcut notes to the side of the instructions grouping stitches together in an organized way. Use your own shorthand system using a number and a symbol for a group of stitches. Once you have done this by handwriting it out on a few instructions, it will become something you will be able to do in your head and instead of having instructions that are written out long hand for your pattern (that take up multiple lines) it will look more like a simple math problem and you will be able to do projects without having to read the instructions multiple times or marking your place. Try it out and let me know how it works for you.

  32. Ann Dennis says:

    Many years ago I was told that the amount of yarn needed did include that for a test swatch. Years later I have seen where some people advise starting the project and check for gauge right on the garment. I like that because, like you Mikey, I hate waste and would do the swatch and then unravel it and use it in the project.

  33. Suzanne says:

    I do what you do. I definitely don’t want useless swatches laying about the house. I have enough crap around here! I knit (or crochet!) until I get bored, then measure and do the math if I haven’t bothered to make the whole 4″ square. Then I rip it out and use it for the project.

  34. April Mack says:

    Mikey thanks for the video as I also struggle with gauge. I loved your video, the only thing after all the info on correction that I have is that I really wanted to see the gauge work based on changing your hook size. This would have really concreted the information for me. I am a true fan, love your work and have learned so much.

  35. Tammy says:

    I believe it varies from designer to designer about swatch yarn being included in the amount of yarn needed. My way of thinking is to always buy one extra skein to make sure I have enough for my project. Adding the leftovers to your stash is always a good thing.. 🙂 I used to hate doing swatches until I started doing them all 7 inches x 9 inches. I send those 7 x 9 inch swatches to be used in Warm Up America afghans. Now, with making a swatch, I know I have the right gauge and I am doing something good for someone else at the same time.

  36. I was recently tech editing a pattern and it had a note stating that if you wanted to keep your gauge swatch you would need to purchase an addition skein. It stated one skein would not be enough unless you unraveled your swatch and use the swatch yarn in your project. That makes me believe it is included in the yarn requirements, unless otherwise stated.

What do you think? Is Mikey bang on or out to lunch? Leave your thoughts here.

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