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February 28, 2005

Uncooperative Row Gauge

Dear nona,

I just started a super cute baby sweater.  Much to my chagrin, I discovered that my stitch gauge was okay, but my row gauge was off.  The pattern calls for 48 rows in 4 inches, but I'm only getting 32!  Wouldn't you know it - the pattern is written in rows instead of inches.  Can I adjust the pattern to match my row gauge and if so...what's the secret?

Struggling with a small sweater in San Francisco

Dear Struggling,

Before we begin, I'd like to applaud you for knitting a gauge swatch.  Please take a brief MCS before continuing.  In nona's book, no gauge swatch equals crap shoot.

Very often if you match your pattern's stitch gauge, then your row gauge will also match -- thanks to the proportional nature of stitches -- but this is not always the case.  Now, nona is a bit concerned that your stitch gauge matches, but your row gauge is so far off.  So, before going any further please check:

  1. You measured and counted your rows accurately -- not that nona doubts you.
  2. You worked your gauge swatch in the proper stitch pattern.  Often the directions will say something like, "16 sts and 20 rows over 4 inches in seed stitch", which means you need to work your swatch in seed stitch.  If no stitch pattern is mentioned, good old stockinette stitch should be used.

Assuming all checks out okay and your row gauge does differ, you can use the gauge multiplier to adjust your pattern.   First, calculate the row multiplier by dividing your row gauge by the pattern's row gauge.  Your row multiplier is 32/48 = .67 -- isn't math fun!  Next, multiple all row numbers in your pattern by your row multiplier, rounding intelligently as necessary  For example, if your pattern reads, "CO 82 stitches and work for 86 rows", then your adjusted version is "CO 82 stitches and work for 58 rows" -- 86 x .67 = 57.6 rounded to 58.

Hopefully you get the basic idea.  Some patterns involve complex shaping, which also should be adjusted.  This, I'm afraid, is an advanced topic -- only read on if you're adventurous!

Advanced Pattern Adjustments

Let's look at a more complex example, the shaping of a sleeve.  In this example, assume your row gauge is 6 rows per inch and the pattern's is 5 rows per inch giving you a row multiplier of 1.2 (6/5).  Let's adjust the sleeve pattern based on the 1.2 stitch multiple step by step:

  1. CO 40 sts and work 10 12 rows -- 10 x 1.2 = 12 -- simple
  2. Inc 1 st each edge every 6 rows, 6 times and then 1 st each edge every 8 rows, 3 times - okay this will be a bit trickier.  In the original pattern, the sleeve is gradually increased over 60 rows.  nona knows its 60 rows because we work 6 rows, 6 times (36 rows) and 8 rows, 3 times (24 rows)  36 + 24 = 60.  For our adjusted version, we need to work the increases over 72 rows (60 x 1.2 = 72) -- leaving us 12 extra rows to fit in.   The 12 extra rows can be added by working the 6 6-row increases as 8-row increases.  The new adjusted pattern reads, "Inc 1 st each edge every 8 rows 9 times" -- yup, 8 rows, 9 times is 72 rows.

  3. Continue straight for a further 16 20 rows -- 16 x 1.2 = 19.2, then round up to the next even row

  4. BO 3 sts at the beg of the next 2 rows -- no adjustment needed.

  5. Dec 1 st each edge every 2 rows, 8 times then every 4 rows, 3 times -- another bit of trickiness for the sleeve cap shaping.  We know the original pattern shapes the sleeve cap over 28 rows -- 2 rows, 8 times (16 rows) and 4 rows, 3 times (12 rows).  For our adjusted version, we need to work the sleeve cap over 34 rows (28 x 1.2 rounded) -- leaving us 6 extra rows to fit in.  The 6 extra rows can be added by working 3 of the 2 row decreases as 4 row decrease.  The new adjusted pattern reads, "Dec 1 st each edge every 2 rows, 5 times then every 4 rows, 6 times" -- yup, 2 rows, 5 times (10 rows) and 4 rows, 6 times (24) is indeed 34 rows.

  6. BO all sts -- no adjustment needed.

nona knows this is a lot to absorb, but hopes it will help you adjust your pattern.  Remember, the calculator is your friend and keep notes for yourself -- who knows you may knit one sleeve today and the other in 6 months!

February 28, 2005 in Ask nona, Deciphering Patterns | Permalink


Good math, Nona.

I've aspired to posting these types of guides since I have had to redo many a pattern because of the row gauge...

But then I get exhausted and just having done the math myself is enough. ;-) Great post!

Posted by: Jenny | Mar 1, 2005 7:58:42 AM

This is such a great list. I will have to ponder some of theseā€“I have some of our own that we do as well as some of those on your list we already do.

Posted by: Buffalo Bills Jerseys | Sep 2, 2011 1:39:22 AM

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