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Understanding Crochet Gauge and How to Measure It

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Have you ever crocheted an adorable child’s sweater, hat or other masterpiece only to discover that the finished item is way too small or way too large?  Nothing can burst that accomplishment bubble quite like a wonky finished object can.  We are going to remedy this predicament today, folks, as we discuss crochet gauge.

Crochet Gauge

Understanding Crochet Gauge and How to Measure It

What is gauge?

Crochet gauge is directly related to how loosely or tightly you crochet when compared to other crocheters. If you crochet very loose, your gauge (and therefore your entire finished work) will be much larger than someone that holds their yarn very tight.  As such, crochet gauge correlates directly to the number of stitches in a given area of your work.

Typically 4″ square, the gauge of a pattern (if listed) tells you how many stitches the pattern designer used to get 4″ across and then how many rows it took to obtain 4″ in height.

Why is crochet gauge important?

In some crochet patterns gauge is unimportant. Say a dishcloth, a hair towel, one of these Scentsy car tin holders etc.  It doesn’t really matter if my dishcloth is an inch or three too large, a dishcloth is a dishcloth is a dishcloth. Gauge is very important, however, when crocheting something that will be worn or something that needs to end up a specific size.

If a gauge is listed in a pattern, it is wise to complete a gauge swatch.  I know, I know… I hate doing them too. A necessary evil in some projects unfortunately.

How to measure your gauge

Simply crochet until you have at least 4″ wide, then continue crocheting in rows until you get to at least 4″ square.  Lay your crocheted piece out – trying not to stretch it – and count how many stitches there are within 4″.  Then turn the measuring tape perpendicular and measure how many rows you have within 4″.  How does that measure up to the stitch count in the gauge listed on the pattern?  Are you close to that magic number or are you way off?

How to Measure Crochet Gauge

To adjust your gauge to match a pattern…

If a designer has 11 stitches and 18 rows in a 4″ square piece, while I had 16 stitches and 23 rows, I know that I crochet much tighter than the designer.  Therefore, I need to adjust my tension (or hook size) to more closely resemble that of the pattern.  Do you have too many stitches? Go up a hook size and try again.  Do you have too few stitches? Go down a hook size and try again.

It is better to do one, two or even three gauge swatches that take five minutes each as opposed to crocheting an entire child’s size sweater that could fit an American Girl doll.  You feelin’ me?

More crochet tips before you go!

How to Crochet the Invisible Decrease for Amigurimi Crochet
How to Change Colors in Crochet
How to Create Planned Yarn Color Transitions in Crochet
18 Craft Fair Tips for Beginners: How to Run a Successful Craft Show Booth
Foundation Single Crochet: How to Video + Why You Need to Learn
How to Add a Zipper and Lining to a Crochet Bag

How to Change Colors in Crochet

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  1. My gauge pattern was supposed to be 13 double crochet wide and 7 double crochet rows ( back loop only ) wide to create a 4 inch square. I came out 3 1/2 inch on width and 4 inches on height. Should I go up a hook size or down a hook size?
  2. Thank-you for the info on gauge and I also do not like to bother. The project I am doing it requires it so I dutifully did my 4 " square and am right on in the stitches and 5 rows short. I am not sure what to do. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
    1. Hi Bonnie! I suggest looking up the golden loop in crochet on google. There are some great videos that explain the golden loop and how it can help you adjust the height of your stitches.
  3. How many chains equal a single crochet stitches? My pattern says 17 sc = 4". So should 17 chains equal 4" to start gauge swatch?
    1. Hi Joanne! I would ch 21, sc into the 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across for a total of 20 sc's...then crochet a few more rows of sc. After a few rows, then measure within that swatch (don't count the edge sts) and see if you have 17 sc's in 4".
  4. I have now made 2 gauge squares...the hook 6 was too big so I went down to a 5 hook, and the # of stitches was in line with the gauge needed, but the rows were still too big. I'm making the cozy cardigan for my husband so I'd like it to fit correctly. I tried to make the hdc shorter, but I must be a very loose crocheter. Should I still go down another hook to 4.5? I don't want it to be too far off. I'm a semi-beginner. I make lots of blankets and things that don't need gauge so this is new to me. Thanks for the tip and help
    1. I've swatched the Hedonist's Housecoat 3 times, each on a different size hook. I get 12 hhdc in 4 inches, but it's 3.5 inches tall for 10 rows. I'm really confused on why the row height is such a problem. Changing hook size has not solved the problem. I'm hoping you can tell me what do to.
  5. Does ANYONE know how to translate between crochet gauge, Tunisian crochet gauge, and knit gauge? I have a pattern done in knit, and in crochet. But I'm doing it in Tunisian crochet, and I'm nowhere near sure if I am anywhere near the right size. Nowhere I have looked so far, with 3 differently worded net searches (I don't "google" stuff, I use Ecosia or Ekoru [both are .org] for searches, BTW), has come anywhere near telling me how to translate between the three. I am having to guess, which I fear won't get me very close to the actual pattern. Luckily, it's a Doctor Who 4th Doctor scarf, which DOES give a little bit of leeway, but if it is too far off, it will definitely be noticeable. So, if anyone knows how to translate between the stitch & row counts of the 3 different styles of yarnwork, and is on social media, my website listing will let you message me, if this site links to the website you list for yourself like most sites do. Thanks ahead of time.
    1. Good grief! What happened to my paragraph breaks? Sorry about the gigantic wall of text, folks. I did put in paragraphs, but apparently this website doesn't like paragraphs. *sigh*
  6. I'm trying to figure out gauge on the Hedonist Housecoat. I'm using a 6.0 mm hook with 4 yarn and I worked up a gauge swatch. I get 14 hhdc in 4 inches, but it's 3.5 inches tall for 10 rows. I'm really confused about if I should go up or down a hook size.
  7. Thank you so much for this excellent article! So, I did my first gauge swatch for a sweater. The pattern gauge says 16 hdc in backloop + 14 rows = 4 in. My 16 hdc measures 4" across, but I only needed 8 rows to make it square. Help! what do you recommend? TIA for any advice... This is a sweater for my adult daughter, size S. Using organic cotton sport weight-- it might be slightly thicker than the Aran the pattern used.
  8. Oh my so many new methods now so much that I find it hard to understand and remember the different & efficient stitch methods! Do you have a suggested book that gives just new methods for crochet and knitting? I’ve looked but most just explain stitches for patterns in books. Also because there’s “Utube videos” people don’t have knitting classes etc. for us to learn. I’m not a beginner more intermediate so I just can’t remember as eSily when I RA’s young. Haha
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  13. The yarn is threads and loops folklore size 4 but the yarn thread seems thick. The gauge is 12 std to 4inches which I have, but number of rows is smaller than the ten for four inches required. I am two rows short. Do I go up a size or down, knit loosely? The fabric seems stiff, not loose and flowing almost like I was crocheting a rug. A bit dense. Not tight. Maybe I need to save the yarn for a blanket and get a different yarn? I wanted to make a mommy and me hedonist houseboat for cool summer evenings and occassional light cool rainy summer days too hot to wear a coat.
    1. Hi Carrie! You can go up a hook size or two, and down a pattern size. Gauge swatch you would then be aiming for would be 10 sts across and 10 rows for a 4" square. However, if you're looking for an excuse to go buy new yarn, then by all means, go forth and buy! LOL! Hope this helps. Happy crocheting!
  14. Thank you so much for the free patterns. I love your designs and have started 3 of them. I simply love that you share your creativity with all. I did purchase the pcc, but had to let you know how much you are appteciated.
  15. I checked my gauge and it was spot on however the back of the 12 month sweater should be 10 inches across and mime is 14. Makes so sense! Any ideas?
  16. First off, thank you for sharing this pattern (Unicorn sweater), I can't wait to start it. I was wondering if there was a way to print it out? I would like to have it on paper so I can take it with me where ever I go while making it.
  17. I'm making a pair of socks right now, where the pattern does not specify a gauge. What I did was went with the hook the pattern called for (even though I know I crochet much tighter than the average person), and when I saw that the beginning of the sock was looking awfully small, I went up a couple hook sizes and now the sock is looking like it will fit me. What do you do when a pattern should have a gauge, but does not? I'm hoping there is an easier method than what I had to do. Thanks!