Monday, August 18, 2008

What Else Affects Gauge?

I recently got back from The Knit and Crochet Show and CGOA/TKGA Conference, where I taught 7 classes in 4 days, went to a CGOA board meeting, attended the CGOA members' meeting, went to the Fashion Show and dinner on Saturday night, visited with lots of friends, and had an all around wonderful time! Read more about it on my blog: notyourgrannyscrochet. I'm back now, and trying to get my act together for the next conference, in less than 3 weeks! This one is in Portland, Oregon - I've never been there, and I'm excited about going. I'll be teaching 7 classes again - one of them though, Crocheting on the Edge - may not have enough students before pre-registration is over (August 21). So if you're planning to go to the TKGA/CGOA conference don't wait to sign up for classes. Sign up now, by Thursday afternoon at 4:30 Eastern time!

I did promise you that I would tell you more about what affects gauge. I had an interesting discussion about that this morning in the class I teach at a lys. One of my students made a very pretty vest - that was humongous on her. She checked her gauge with one yarn, then decided she didn't like that yarn, changed to another yarn, and thought that it was the same weight, so she didn't check her gauge again. She learned! If you're going to change yarns, even if it is the same weight, or same yarn but a different color, check your gauge! Repeat - check your gauge!

Another student, who came back for her second lesson, said she was really nervous and tense for her first class. And her crocheting was really tight. Today, I showed her how to relax, how to make her stitches higher, and her crocheting loosened up a bit. (To make your stitches a little higher, lift the hook above the top of the row you worked into. Just a little, maybe 1/8 of an inch. But that will help if your row gauge is off - if you have too many rows to the inch. I do this at the end of the stitch - just pull up on the hook.)

The first baby afghan I made for my son was a nice ripple pattern. I started out really tense, but loosened up as I figured out the stitch pattern. I had never worked a ripple stitch, nor had I ever made an afghan. (This was MANY years ago.) The sides of the afghan slope out. The bottom is narrow, the top is wide. Because I got more relaxed as I went on.

So gauge is affected a lot by your tension. If you're mad at someone, your gauge might be off - too tight. If you're really relaxed, your gauge might be off - too loose. And if the designer crochets tight (she or he might have been tense, trying to meet the deadline!), and you're relaxing out by the pool, your tension might be loose and your gauge may not match the designer's gauge!

That's the story about gauge. And that's one reason I started designing my own fashions. I could never meet the designer's gauge! :-)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm constantly having trouble with gauges: my stitches are too wide and too low. So my swatches end up 11cm wide and 9cm high, and when I do a bunch of trebles the whole thing looks like filet crocheting, with square holes instead of rectangular ones. How can I change the way I crochet? I've tried all sorts but I always end up the same. It's impossible to crochet clothes!

Marty Miller said...

Are you using the recommended hook size and the recommended yarn? Even yarn with the same weight will give you a different gauge. Even hooks with the same measure may give you a different gauge, especially if made by different manufacturers. What you can do to help you get gauge: if your width is too wide - use a smaller mm hook. If you length is too short, make sure when you bring the hook through the stitch that you don't leave the hook on top of the row below. Lift it a bit - maybe 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, just so you can see some space under the hook. That might help.
One other thing - sometimes when my students have a lot of trouble with their stitches, looking odd, etc., I suggest they change the style of their crochet hook. If they are using a tapered hook, I suggest an in-line, straight hook. If it's straight, I suggest a tapered one. Also, look at how you are holding your hook, and where you are holding it. You want to hold it somewhere near the thumb rest, if there is one. Try not to hold it near the end. Also, if you're using a knife hold, try a pencil hold. And if you're using a pencil hold, try a knife hold.
One more thing, make your swatches larger than what is called for. In other words, if 10 sts = 10cm (or 4 inches), work twice as many stitches, and twice as many rows as called for. And then measure the stitches and rows in the middle of the swatch. End stitches and end rows never measure the same as the middle stitches. Hope all these ideas help!

Anonymous said...

I have row troubles with my gauge swatches. Using the yarn weight and hook size called for in the pattern, I always get the right number of stitches per inch. But I can never get my rows to match! It seems like all my stitches are too tall! What's the best way to fix this?

Marty Miller said...

You should look at how you pull up the stitch - after you yarn over and pull through. Make sure you're not pulling it way above the level of the top of the row you're working into. Stop short - right at the top of the row, and then finish the stitch. This is just opposite of what you should do if your stitches are too short! :-)
Also, look at where you are holding your hook. If you hold it close to the end of the handle/shaft, then you don't have as much control over your stitching, and the stitches may tend to be longer than usual. So try holding your hook closer to the hook end - put your hand around the area of the flat part - what's called the thumb rest. Also, try different grips. If you hold your hook like a pencil, try holding it like a knife. If you hold your hook like a knife - try holding it like a pencil. And control the hook end, whatever you do.
Hope this helps!

Greylady said...

I have the opposite problem as most it seems.... my height or rows are correct for the gauge but my length or horizontal is too short. For example, using number 10 crochet thread gauge is 7 stitches = 1 inch, and 10 rows = 1 inch, my rows = 1 inch but my stitches or width is about 7/8 inch... how do I fix this.

Marty Miller said...

First, make sure you are checking your gauge in the middle of the swatch. Make a swatch that's bigger than 1" x 1" - do a 3" x 3" swatch. Then, measure in the middle. If your rows are still not long enough - in other words, 7 stitches measures less than 1", you can try it with a larger hook. Most of the time, the row height will not change that much if the hook is just one size larger. But remember, if you take your measurements over 1" x 1", make your swatch larger - 3" x 3".

Ayanna said...

I have gone up 3 hook sizes and still can not get the correct gauge. My stitch number horizontally is measuring less than I'm suppose to have. Ex; I'm supposed to have 15 stitches =4" and I'm coming out to about 15 stitches =3 1/4" how can I fix this?

Marty Miller said...

There are a couple of things that might be causing this. Are you using the same yarn that the pattern calls for? Not just the same weight, because not all worsted weight yarn is the same. (Or all DK weight, sport weight, etc.) Is the fiber content the same? Sometimes, the same weight yarn with different fibers will work up differently. If it's the same yarn, then is the color the same? Sometimes, different colors of the same yarn will have a slightly different gauge. Since the gauge calls for 15 stitches over 4", you should be working up a gauge swatch that is at least 6" wide. And also add enough rows so that the height is taller than the gauge of the rows. Why? Because the measurement at the end of the rows is never the same as the measurement in the middle of the rows, and that's the measurement that counts. The same goes for the measurements of the rows - you shouldn't be using the first or last row to measure the row gauge. If all this doesn't work, try a different brand of crochet hook. Make sure you are using the right mm, not just the right letter or number of the hook. Different brands have different mm measurements for some of the letter or number designations on their hooks. An N hook may be 10mm in some brands, and 9mm in other brands. Also, make sure you are relaxed when you work your gauge swatch.
One of these suggestions (or more) I hope will help. Let me know!

Anonymous said...

I'm crocheting a ripple pattern. And after about the 15th row I noticed that on one end it had 10 more stitches then the opposite end. Will this be a problem in the outcome of the blanket when I'm done? Will I have to redo the whole thing?

Marty Miller said...

This happens a lot, especially in ripple patterns. You may have worked too many stitches at the ends of the rows - it all depends on the specific ripple pattern, of course. But yes, it most likely will affect your final outcome. The best thing to do when you think you are adding stitches is to COUNT your stitches after each row. If there are too many, try to figure out where you added them. Look at the ends of the rows, the tops of the ripples, the bottoms of the ripples, and the straight parts. Somewhere you are adding stitches. Also, your afghan may flare out at the top without adding stitches. My first baby ripple afghan did - because my foundation chain was really tight, and as I crocheted the rows, I got looser and looser. So my top row was longer than the bottom row. That may be your problem. And if it is, then you can use a bigger hook to start your afghan - at least the chain and the first row.
Whether you have to redo the whole thing - that's really up to you. If you have the time and the energy, I would probably redo it.

Amy Bailey said...

I have torn out this baby sweater about 15 times!!!! The gauge is 9 sc and 6 rows = 2 inches. The closest I can get is 3in x 1 1/2in. It's driving me crazy!! How do I make my stitches so much higher without making them wider?!

Marty Miller said...

When you make a stitch, and pull it through the material, do you yank your yarn to tighten the loop on the hook? Or do you let the hook rest on the top of the stitch below? Either one of these will cause your stitches to be too short. Try to lift your hook up, above the stitch below, to give the yarn some "breathing space". You should be able to see a little bit of space between the stitch below and the hook. Also, your hook shouldn't point down toward the stitch below. It should be almost parallel to the top of the stitch below.
If you aren't used to this, it will take a little practice, but once you get it,your hands will thank you!
P.S. You can also use extended stitches to make your stitches taller, but your stitches will look a little different then.

Tamara Gooderham said...

What a great article Marty. I am currently writing a blog post about gauge on my site www.craftyescapism.com so I was delighted to find this so I can include a link to your site for my readers. Many thanks.

Marty Miller said...

Thanks, Tamara. I'll look forward to reading your blog post about gauge.