Gauge, Part 3: Adjusting your Needle/Hook Size

I am sure by now you have read parts one and two of this series. If not, you might consider reading those before moving on to this post. Go on, we’ll wait for you (we are knitters & crocheters…we always have something to keep our hands busy while waiting).

In today’s post we are going to talk about the part of gauge swatching that confuses the best of us – how to adjust your needle/hook size to get your required gauge.

For the first example, I am going to talk about what to do if your gauge is too small. Let’s say you are working with a pattern using Kumara and it calls for 4.5 stitches to an inch. However, your swatch is telling you that you are getting 5 stitches to an inch. In this case you will want to make your stitches bigger, so you will want to use a bigger needle/hook.

On the other hand if you are working the same pattern and instead on 4.5 stitches you are getting 4 stitches per inch, you will want to make your stitches smaller. And therefore use a smaller needle/hook.

When adjusting your gauge and trying different size needles, keep in mind that a small change will make a big difference. In this instance, I would go up only one needle size when working the next gauge swatch. If for some reason you are really off (at least a stitch or more per inch), you might try jumping up/down a few needle/hook sizes.

Also keep in mind that you will want to repeat the whole process outlined in the second post in this series. I know knitters who work several swatches before washing them, so they can figure out which needle to use in one swoop. If you do this, PLEASE make sure to tag each swatch as you work it. How angry at yourself would you be if you had to repeat the process because you lost track of which swatch you made with the US 7s and which one you made with the US 8s? One good way to do that is to tie knots onto the tail of your cast on the correlates with your needle size. Another way is to work some YO, K2tog on the first row of your swatch - so if you are using a  size 7, you will have 7 holes on the bottom of the swatch.

I know that this process can seem really bothersome...believe me I know. I personally am a product knitter and have been known to rip apart sweaters that I had not only finished knitting, but had also sewn together, because it didn’t fit me right. Nine times out of ten it is because I didn’t take the time in the beginning to do a proper gauge swatch. I had no one to blame but myself and I hope I can save you some of the same frustration.

Now that you finally have a proper gauge…

Knit on!


  1. FINALLY a good explanation of how to adjust my gauge swatches. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

  2. Thank you so much for explaining how to use and adjust the gauge!!