I'm going to offer some ideas about gauge and the measurement of. Back before the turn of the last century gauge was not talked about nor was it really measured. Children learned to knit and crochet at mom or grandma's knee. These experienced Knitters and Crocheters could see at a glance if the kids were getting the proper number of stitches and take corrective steps. Nowadays most don't have that kind of almost instant access.
In today's world, we might have a friend or family member who has taught us the basics or maybe a little more. But more and more, we are learning from teachers at yarn shops and possibly big box craft stores, teachers at conventions like Stitches, or from classes purchased online or for free on YouTube. Podcasts can offer help for questions, if you know what the problem is. The impersonalness of learning has brought up all kinds of problems that weren't a big deal in times gone by. Gauge is one such thing.
The impetus for today's post about gauge is an episode on the verypink podcast. You can check out their website at verypink.com There was a bunch of gauge questions and one stood out. The question was asked about why patterns are telling us to measure gauge mid project.
Let's go over the quick list of steps to measuring gauge.
1. Cast on and knit the swatch. Note the brand, color and weight of yarn and size of needle or hook.
2. Measure in the center of the swatch the number of stitches and then of rows per 4 inches. Note these on the same place as yarn and tool info.
3. Wash and block the swatch as you will be treating the finished product. Follow the washing instructions on the yarn label.
4. Measure the same locations again for gauge. This is the magic set of numbers for determining the size to make for the intended recipient. Note these and highlight.
5. Repeat as needed to get the stitch and row gauge in the pattern after washing and blocking. Use new yarn for each swatch. Knitting, washing/blocking and ripping out can stretch the yarn after a few times.
Ok back to the question of mid project gauge measuring. In a previous post about gauge, I discussed how emotions can influence gauge, in addition to the way you hold the tool and yarn. It's been shown time and again most people tighten up muscles when stressed. Tight muscles usually means that your hands are going to hold tightly to the tools and yarn.
Now, most of us will need to put down our project from time to time. A quick drop to answer the door or grab a drink up to many days, months, years of not working on something because life can intervene in a wide variety of ways. Over time your personal gauge can change due to age or life circumstances.
There is not much chance of gauge changing while you get a drink or eat something (wash your hands to keep things clean). But gauge can change especially for new knitters and crocheters as you gain experience over a short time period. For those of us who are more experienced, it takes more time or emotional upheaval to change our gauge.
There is a special class of people who use knitting or crocheting as a stress! reliever or as a way to keep occupied during crazy times such as waiting for the birth of a child or a teen to come home who's late. Try measuring gauge after that type of event. You'll find a difference.
Now you can see why mid project gauge measuring could need to be done.
Look back at the list of steps to measuring gauge. Remember when I said to measure gauge before washing? This is the gauge the you need to match so when washing and blocking are done after finishing or wearing you get the proper gauge for the size desired.
Make sense? I hope so. Questions can be asked in the comments section below.