3 Reasons Why You Aren't Getting Gauge - And What To Do About It!

Posted by MIchael Gallagher on

Gauge. It's the word that makes knitters and crocheters cringe when they hear it. While it's not crucial for every project, paying attention to gauge can prevent unfortunate mishaps, especially when you are making something that needs to fit in a specific way.

But for many, taking the time to knit or crochet a gauge swatch just means that you're just that much further from the fun part: starting a new project! And if you don't get gauge the first time, or the second time, or even the third time....what's a crafter to do?

If you are having issues getting gauge, it might not be YOU - here are some tips for checking your materials to get back on track so you can start that new project. You'll just need 2 simple tools, our WPI Toolkit and a Needle Gauge!

Knitting Needle & Crochet Hook Gauge and Wraps Per Inch (WPI) Toolkit from NKK Tools

Reason #1: Your Needles & Hooks Aren't The Size You Thought They Were!

You've probably noticed that most knitting needles are labeled for metric (mm) and US sizes (which are assigned a number, i.e. US 6). Crochet hooks are also labeled for metric and US sizes (which are assigned a letter).

However, some needle and hook manufacturers have slightly different labeling systems, and if you don't pay attention, you might not be using the correct needle or hook for your project! 

nkk tools knitting needle gauge and dpn knitting needles

For example, we have found needles that were both 3mm in size, but one manufacturer labeled them US 2 and another, US 2.5. We've also come across products which were labeled as a certain size, but the actual needle or hook diameter did not match what was printed on the product. And not only that, those size labels can wear off with use. 

What's a crafter to do?!

nkk tools gauge with crochet hooks

We recommend verifying the size printed on your needles and hooks with our needle gauge, which is one of the most accurate gauges on the market. Featuring 24 needle sizes as well as metric, US, and crochet hook sizes, along with Metric and inch rulers, we use a computerized cutting machine to ensure accuracy with each hole. 

Over the years, we've had countless customers email to tell us that they discovered how inaccurate their old gauges were; now that they've bought ours, it's the only one they use! 

Reason #2: Yarn Weight Confusion

The "standard" yarn weights can be anything but! Have you ever come across a skein of yarn labeled "fingering" that was as thin as a lace weight? Ever wondered if bulky and chunky yarns are really the same thing? And then there's the mid-range yarns....some call them  DK, aran, or worsted, but they can also be labeled as light, medium, or heavy worsted. It can truly bend your mind into a pretzel. 

Using a yarn that is thinner or thicker than what is called for in your pattern will obviously produce a few problems: first and foremost, the fabric you create may be thicker or thinner than intended. Second, you might run out of yarn before you're finished! Last but not least, if you are substituting in a different yarn brand, you may encounter both of these issues at the same time. 

Handweavers use a system called Wraps Per Inch (WPI for short) to identify their weaving yarns, and many commercially-made yarns for knitters and crocheters will also indicate this on their label. While this system of measurement is also contingent on how tightly you wrap the yarn as you measure it, we've created a tool that produces the most accurate measurement possible: the WPI Tooklit. 

It's designed so you can gently roll the yarn around the tool, which reduces the chances of changing the thickness of the yarn by adding or removing twist. Then, simply count the number of times the yarn was wrapped around the tool in the 1-inch increment, and refer to the Knit Kard (which is included with the tool) to determine the final weight.

You may be surprised at the results! 

nkk tools wpi gauge

Reason #3: Your Tape Measure Isn't As Accurate As It Used To Be

Finally, it's important to take note of how you're measuring the stitches in your swatch. Plastic and cloth tape measures can distort and stretch out over time, giving you inaccurate measurements. That's why our needle gauges have both metric and inch rulers printed on them - the sturdy plastic of the gauge will not distort over time, and it's thick enough that it won't bend or break easily, too. We've also taken care to use a special ink that prints crisply and will not wear off, so you can use your gauge for years to come. 

 Measuring with NKK Tools Needle Gauge vs. old and distorted measuring tape

Now go forth and gauge with confidence...and don't forget to pin this post for future reference!

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3 Reasons Why You Aren't Getting Gauge - And What To Do About It!

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