Thursday, 30 May 2013

How to Crochet a Gauge/Tension Swatch

What is a swatch?

A swatch is :  

  1. a sample of cloth or fabric (or other material);
  2. a characteristic specimen of anything.
Therefore, in crochet or knitting, a swatch is a sample of the fabric used in the finished garment. 

Why is a swatch needed?

A swatch is used in crochet or knitting, to measure and match the gauge/tension used in a pattern, so the end result is a crochet/knit garment made to the right size and measurements.

What is gauge?

Gauge is: 

  1. A standard or scale of measurement.
  2. A standard dimension, quantity, or capacity.
Therefore, in crochet or knitting, gauge measures the number of stitches per X number of inches.

Where to find Gauge/Tension:

All patterns: knit or crochet, mention the gauge/tension used in the pattern, to get the desired result.  

Some patterns: are not reliant on gauge, these can be simple items such as embellishments or motifs, crochet or knit, using any yarn and recommended hook/needle size for the yarn; and will mention that  "Gauge/tension is not critical".  
However, always check to see whether you use a hook/needle size smaller or larger than recommended to achieve desired effect.

Gauge/tension is determined by a designer, designing a garment with specific stitches in the pattern, and deciding which yarn and hook size will give the desired result.  

Stitch and Row Gauge/Tension:
Garment patterns usually mention both a stitch and a row gauge; to achieve exact fit, in width and length, both the stitch and row gauge/tension are important for the perfect fit.

Pattern repeats:  some patterns count a set of different stitches as a repeat across a row; resulting in X number of pattern repeats per X number of inches.

Gauge/Tension is also found on yarn labels, indicating X number of stitches and X number of rows to 4in (10cm), and recommending hook/needle size.  Use this information as a guide only, your gauge/tension swatch may result in a slightly different count.

Gauge/Tension Swatch: Make and Measure 

  • Are your stitches the right size?: when following a crochet pattern it is important your stitches are consistent in size and match the Gauge/Tension provided in the pattern.
  • Size and Shape:  with the correct stitch gauge/tension your  crochet garment will match the shape and size mentioned in the pattern.
  • Gauge/Tension:  is the ratio of a given number of stitches or rows to inches.  For example, ten (10) stitches per inch or five (5) rows per inch. 

Gauge/Tension Swatch: How to Make

  • Use the same yarn and hook size recommended in the pattern. 
  • Make a swatch approximately 6in (15cm) wide X 6in (15cm) long; so you can get an accurate 4in (10cm) measurement across the centre of the swatch.

Gauge/Tension Swatch: How to Measure

  • Counting stitches: use a rigid ruler,  place along row of stitches, use two pins, and mark the beginning and end of 4in (10cm). 
  • Do not stretch fabric: keep fabric flat, do not manipulate to fit whole stitches into the 4in (10cm) measure.  Always pin exactly where 4in ends, even if it means you have half a stitch. 
  • Count: how many stitches? across 4in (10cm), (include the half).
  • Counting rows: use a rigid ruler, place along a vertical line of stitches.
  • Line up: edge of ruler with bottom of row or stitch.
  • Pin it: one pin, to show first stitch (first row); second pin, at end of 4in (10cm) up.
  • How many rows? count the stitches/rows.
  • Check the gauge/tension: match? is it the same as pattern?

Points to Consider:

  • Accuracy counts: when measuring your gauge swatch. 
  • Wash and Block: ? only if recommended for pattern, before you measure your gauge/tension swatch. 
  • Flat surface: Lay the swatch on a flat surface. 
  • Pin down (if necessary), DO NOT stretch: if edges are curling pin down, careful not to stretch the fabric.
  • Gauge/Tension swatch match:  same as pattern? YES, proceed with pattern.  NO, change hook size. If swatch is too small? use larger hook; if swatch is too big? use smaller hook.
  • Swatch again:  if your first swatch does not match, use a smaller/larger hook and swatch again; until you match the gauge/tension in the pattern.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Here we are in the middle of May and the UK is once again under threat of cold temperatures, snow flurries, gale force winds, and loads of rain...

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


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