At some point along your crochet journey you probably have come across a crochet pattern that has a gauge. This means that the finished object should be a specific size (usually clothing). You don’t want to start a cardigan for yourself and then realize halfway through that it will not even fit! That’s a lot of time wasted, and that’s why you want to make a gauge swatch – a square that basically lets you know what your tension is as you crochet. Believe me, it’s worth the little bit of extra time to crochet one. I used to think they were kind of a pain, but it saves a lot of time and frustration in the end!
Making a Gauge Swatch
Most patterns that have a gauge will use 4″ as the standard measurement. For example, a pattern may state that 12 hdc and 11 rows in 4” square with a K hook. Using the size hook indicated, crochet 11 rows with 12 hdc in each row, and then measure it. If it is smaller than four inches, then you need to go up a hook size. If it’s bigger, you need to go down a hook size.
Once you’ve made a few patterns from a certain designer you can kind of get a feel for how their tension compares to yours.
However, if you’re like me and like to keep a record of what your own tension is (for writing patterns or comparing your tension to others), you can download this handy little chart to write your gauge down!
If you want a more complicated-looking chart (so you can keep all your numbers from different yarn weights and hook sizes and stitches on one page) I made one of those too! You can get it by signing up for our email list. We promise not to share your information to anyone, and we won’t spam your inbox with whole bunch of stuff (we’ll only send one, maybe two emails a month).
This way you don’t have to make a bunch of different swatches! You can just make one, measure it and write it down in the chart, frog it and make another swatch in a different hook size or stitch!
It’s helpful but not necessary to know foundation stitches to start your gauge swatch. It makes it a lot easier to measure your first row.
Chain or foundation crochet until you get to 4 inches without stretching the row. If you chained, depending on what stitch you’re using for your gauge add additional chains to build your height for your first row (for example if you’re doing double crochet you’ll add three more chains and then dc in the 4th ch from your hook).
Continue adding rows until the height of the gauge swatch reaches 4 inches.
In my example above I used worsted weight yarn and a K hook and did half double crochet. My 4″ square has 11 sts in a row and 10 rows.
Once you know your gauge it makes it a whole lot easier to determine what hook you need for any pattern. In the example at the beginning of this post a pattern may call for a K hook, and the gauge is 12 hdc in 11 rows. You can look at your chart and if those numbers match yours in the K hook category, congrats! You have the same tension as the designer. But if you look at your chart and it reads, for example, 14 hdc and 12 rows, you’d have to go up a hook size. In theory, you should be able to look at your chart, a hook size up (so an L hook), and it should say 12 hdc in 11 rows. It’s not’s always going to be exact, just look for the closest possible match on your chart.
I hope that gives some insight on gauge swatches and tension as you crochet! I feel like I’m not good at explaining things 😅, so if you have any questions please leave a comment below or ask on any of our social media, or shoot us an email!