Tuesday Tip – Gauge Fears? It’s Cookie Math!
I have written a LOT about gauge. In fact, just put “gauge” in the search field of this blog and you’ll see just how much I have written about it.
In my video sweater classes, we always have gauge tutorials and explore the wonderfully powerful thing that can happen when we don’t get gauge…on purpose.
And yet, we still fear the simple math we have to deal with day-to-day. So let’s break down the Math of Gauge!
Gauge Arithmetic = “Cookie Math”
In my “Make Your Gauge Work” class at Vogue Knitting Live, I go over all the wonderful ways you can alter your sweater pattern to work with YOUR gauge. It’s such simple yet powerful math…. yeah, I said it… MATH. I’m not afraid, and you shouldn’t be either.
I’ve always called it “cookie math”—let’s see why.
STOP THE CHASE: It’s OK NOT to get the perfect gauge!
Knitters chase gauge before even stopping and thinking, “What size will it be?” There are several inches between each size, so sometimes we get a size closer to what we want when we DON’T match gauge.
We need to understand the fabric we are making, and whether it’s right for the sweater we want and the sweater that is designed. If we are making the appropriate fabric and we are getting 22 st and 26 rows over 4″, but the pattern got 26 st and 28 rows over 4″, is all lost??? NO!
This is cookie math…
If you had 10 cookies on a plate and you had 5 friends coming over, you wouldn’t freak out at the complex math it would take to decide how many cookies each friend gets right?
Cookie Total / Friends = Cookie Portion
10 ÷ 5 = 2
If you had 20 stitches in a 4-inch swatch, you don’t freak out trying to figure out how many stitches are inside each inch (gauge).
Stitches (or rows) Total / Inches = Gauge
20 ÷ 4 = 5
If you had 5 friends coming over, and you knew you wanted to give each friend 2 cookies, you wouldn’t freak out at the complex math it would take to decide how many cookies you would need, right?
Friends x Cookie Portion = Cookie Total
5 x 2 = 10
If you knew your gauge was 5 stitches in an inch and you knew you wanted a 8″ skinny scarf, you wouldn’t freak out at the complex math it would take to decide how many stitches you need to cast on, right?
Inches x Gauge = Stitches Total (or rows) Total
8 x 5 = 40
If you had 10 cookies, and you wanted to give each friend 2 cookies, you wouldn’t freak out at the complex math it would take to decide how many friends you could have over!
Cookies Total / Cookie Portion = Friends
10 ÷ 2 = 5
If you had a pattern that told you how many stitches are in the sweater width (e.g. 117 st at the chest), WHY do we freak out trying to understand how wide it will be based on our gauge (e.g. OUR gauge is 6.5 st / inch)?
Gauge is not so complex—it’s how many stitches or rows are inside each inch.
Stitches Total / Gauge = Inches
117 ÷ 6.5 = 18″
DIFFERENT GAUGE, SAME COOKIE MATH!!
If you changed your mind about how many cookies could be in a portion and you decided that each friend should get only 1.5 cookies, you wouldn’t freak out at the “higher math” it would take to find out how many friends you could have over.
Cookie Total / Cookie Portion = Friends
10 ÷ 1.5 = 6.6 (so you could have 6 friends over and one kid 😉)
If you were knitting to a larger gauge, it wouldn’t take too much complex higher math to figure out what size the sweater would be if you followed a size at your gauge. You wanted a 38 – 39″ chest, so you were going to knit the medium.
Stitches at chest—117 (123, 135, 147, 165, 177, 189, 201) sts.
Stitches Total / Gauge = Inches
123 st ÷ 6 = 20.5″
So, you can see that following the medium size at a gauge of 6 st per inch vs. 6.5 st per inch will give you a 20.5″ back piece vs. a 19″ one.
If you knit the small at your gauge, what happens is…
117 st÷ 6 = 19.5″
Just as I recommend to new knitters that they try to knit something on scrap yarn if they are confused by the directions so that they won’t be afraid of the knitting, try DOING the math and you won’t be afraid of the math.
It’s cookie math.
Want to learn more? Join me at any of the Vogue Knitting Live shows!