I'm not the most experienced knitter, but one thing I did read in a knitting book was to always cast on six extra stitches for your swatch and always knit the first three and the last three. It was also advised to knit three rows, knit the required number of rows for the swatch, knit three more rows and then bind off, so the swatch is 'framed' and easier to measure. It takes a few seconds more, but so worth it.
Hope that helps.
The Following User Says Thank You to Constant Knitter For This Useful Post:
Yes, that's great advice, above-- you'll get a far more accurate reading than if you only do the exact amount of stitches and rows. My biggest piece of advice is-- don't ever not do it! One stitch off in your gauge and your sweater can be several inches too small or 2 big-- it adds up! So basically what you do is: let's say the gauge is 18 stitches and 24 rows over 4"/10cm. Using the suggested needle size, cast on maybe 25 or 30 stitches, and knit for about 30 - 35 rows. With markers or pins, block off a section which is 18 stitches by 24 rows in the inside of the square you've just knit, leaving a "frame". If the square is smaller than 4", you need to use bigger needles to make your stitches bigger, so try again with larger needles. If the square is bigger than 4", you need to use smaller needles to make your stitches smaller. The conventional wisdom is that if your stitch count is off, go up or down by 2 sizes, and if your row count is off, go up or down by only 1 size. But here's the thing-- in most patterns, you can get away with the row count being off, but NEVER with the stitch count being off. You can't adjust for width (stitches) once you've started knitting your project, but you can for length (rows), because you can just knit more or fewer rows than called for to make up for it.
Once you've made a few things, you'll start to get a sense of if you generally need to use the same, or larger, or smaller needles than the ones the yarn labels call for. For instance, I always try needles 2 sizes smaller than called for. That doesn't mean the gauge swatch is always perfect, and I often have to try different sizes to match it perfectly. But I'm a loose knitter, and it's a good place for me to start.
The Following User Says Thank You to brittyknits For This Useful Post:
I have never made a gauge and when I have tried I could not count the stitches kept getting mixed up. So I want to thank you for explaining that. That is a much simpler way I think than counting all those stitches which sometimes i would end up with what seemed like half a stitch. Could not figure that out.
I'm Knittingmary at Ravelry
If I live to be 200 I will never get all those patterns that I have knitted!
Before you check your gauge swatch, be sure to wash and block it and let it dry. Some yarns will "bloom" when washed and have a different gauge after they've been washed. Be sure to treat it like the ball band says, or, more importantly, how you intend to care for it once the FO is done.
Come visit me on my blog! http://turtlegirl76.comWhere every friday is dedicated to drool worthy pictures of yarn.