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Measuring Knitting Gauge

Here's some advice I gave to a knitter working on the very popular #77 Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan knitting pattern.  The gauge for this pattern is a little unusual - 8 sts over 3" in St st, but correct! 

The suggestions I made for her might be helpful to anyone who wonders about how to match the gauge of a pattern. . .

Hello SweaterBabe!
I'm having trouble matching the gauge on pattern 77 (topdown vine lace cardigan). I can get 8 st/3" on 13 needles but then I have about 14 rows/4". If I use 11 needles I get the rows right but am more like 10 st/3". Is the gauge duo as listed, 8st/3" and 17rows/4", correct? (I suspect from absence of comment on this on your blog that it is, but wanted to confirm before launching in probably with size 13 needles).

-- Best, Sarah O.

Hi Sarah O.,
Yes - the gauge is correct as stated. I think it's most important to get the st gauge right on. AND, I would be sure to measure the gauge across a wide swatch, even 5" or so so you get a true average.

Please be sure to measure the gauge in the middle of the swatch, away from your CO or BO edges, and to block the swatch first and let it completely dry.

Hopefully some of those things may help get the 10sts/3" that you are achieving on the size 11 needles up a bit?? OR it could be that the yarn you are using will not work? Could it be that it is too thin?

The Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky is a true bulky with enough fullness in the yarn to fill in the holes. . . I don't know what yarn you are using.

Anyhow, that is my recommendation. If after all that, the size 13 needles are still closer to the gauge, then you can try those and watch the length as you go. . . as you may wish to adjust for the difference in row gauge throughout, which should be easier given this is a top-down design that you can try on as you go. Hope that helps!

-- Best, SweaterBabe

Hi SweaterBabe,
Thank you so much, this is very helpful! I think I'm going to go with the smaller needles and make the sweater one size up. (I've done the math and it should work out OK.)

My wool is definitely less bulky than yours (though it is bulky) and it doesn't look right on 13 needles. I know this is a bit risky but I think it will be OK, and I should be able to block the finished thing to make it a big roomier if I need to.

-- Best, Sarah O.

Hi Sarah,
Great! And now for sure I agree with your decision to go with the size 11. You definitely don't want to use the 13's if with the yarn you are using it looks too loose and holey. Knit on!

-- SweaterBabe

Buy the #77 Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan knitting pattern here.


Nancy Aldredge

I agree with everything that you said but what about the effect of the composition of the needle. Often times going on type or brand of needle to another can change your gauge. This change effects the surface drag of the yarn and might be just the difference that you need.

Have you checked the 'nap' of your yarn. Make sure you are knitting with the 'nap' (think velvet. This too, can effect your gauge.

Hope this helps!


the vine-lace top down cardigan looks lovely :)


Hi Sweater Babe, thanks for the above information and it has solved some problems with it. I have a bit of a problem with keeping the pattern going when decreasing for the arm holes, and always have some difficulty with it, particularly with lace patterns. Is there an easy solution to this trouble I seem to have? would appreciate a formula for this please.


Hi Miranda,

Sorry - I wouldn't say there is an easy formula, as it totally depends on the lace pattern. Hopefully, the lace isn't too complicated and you can match up your "yo"'s with their accompanying decs, that way if there are not enough sts to do the yo or it's dec, then skip both.

Hope that a little helpful! Most important is keeping the st count correct. . . and trying your best to maintain the look of the lace as you lose the sts.


HI Nancy -

Yes - I totally agree with your additional points! It'a amazing how many factors can go into the knitting gauge issue! Even how relaxed or stressed you are can matter. Sometimes I get a different gauge from knitting while watching a fun show vs. a suspenseful movie!


I just took a class on blocking and after our 3 samples were blocked, the gauge was different from when unblocked. I would recommend doing a larger square, wetting and blocking it to get a more accurate idea of what true gauge will be on a finished item.

Nancy Hewko

Thank you for all your useful information you give on this web page. I have been knitting for many years but enjoy hearing about helpful hints to make my knitting easier for me. Keep up the great work.

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