In crocheting and knitting, gauge refers to the number of stitches per inch and/or the number of rows per inch using a specific size of crochet hook/knitting needle. Your gauge is definitely something that you NEED to know since no one crochets the same as another person due to a variety of reasons/factors including tension and/or variation in hook/needle sizes. By knowing what your gauge is with different sizes of hooks/needles and the different types of threads/yarns, you may save yourself from having to frog ("rip out") a few or a lot of stitches/rows. (After all, if you're making a baby sweater for a gift, you want it to correctly fit the intended recipient, not their parent or vice-versa. *L*)
One person may crochet/knit tightly while another may do it loosely. These things can be corrected/fixed in some different ways. One way is by changing the size of hook/needle you use to make an item. If you crochet/knit tight, use a larger sized hook/needle: Example: if you use a size H crochet hook or a size 8 knitting needle, try using a size I or J crochet hook or a size 9 or 10 knitting needle. If you crochet/knit too loose, use a smaller sized hook/needle: Example: if you use a size H crochet hook or a size 8 knitting needle, try using a size F or G crochet hook or a size 6 or 7 knitting needle. You need to do this until you either match the specified gauge in the pattern or can come as close as possible to it. Please remember that there may be a variation in sizes of hooks/needles made by different companies so you may need to find/try a different brand if one does not seem to be working for you.
To find out what your gauge is, you need to make a test piece ("swatch") using whatever size hook/needle is called for in the pattern along with the same type of thread/yarn used in it.
To measure your stitch gauge, use a small ruler or tape measure with the 1-inch mark at the beginning of one stitch on your swatch. Count the number of stitches between the 1-inch mark and the 2-inch mark on a horizontal row. If there are partial stitches in this measured inch, count the stitches in between two or three inches until you have the whole number of stitches. This is your stitch gauge.
To measure your row gauge, put your ruler on your swatch so that the 1-inch mark is at the bottom of a vertical row. Count the number of stitches between the 1-inch mark and the 2-inch mark on vertical rows. If you have partial rows in this measurement, count another inch or two until you have the complete number of rows.
Compare your gauge to the gauge in the pattern. If your gauge is too big, make another swatch using a smaller hook/needle - if it's too small, use a larger hook/needle as explained above.
To learn more about gauge, check out my gauge tutorial links as well as reading the gauge section in my MoEZ Helps & Hints.
In crocheting and knitting, a swatch refers to a test piece that you make using a certain size of hook/needle with the desired type of thread/yarn. You can make your swatch whatever size you would like but it should be in the shape of a square at least 3 inches by 3 inches minimum in order to get an accurate measurement of your gauge. So if you crochet a chain of 30 (plus 1-3 sts) stitches (or for knitting, cast on 30 stitches) so that you have 30 stitches in each row, you should do at least 30 rows in your swatch before measuring it. (FYI, in crocheting, the number of stitches for the foundation chain may vary depending on what type of stitch you are using. With single crochet (sc), you should chain 1 extra to start your stitch in 2nd chain from hook; double crochet (dc): chain 2 or 3 extra to start your stitch in the 3rd chaing from hook. With the afghan/tunisian crochet stitch, you do NOT need any extra chain stitches as the last chain stitch on your hook usually counts as the first loop/stitch for the first row.) Be sure to measure your swatch on a hard flat surface and smooth out your work but don't stretch it.
There are different graphing software programs you can purchase (such as PC Stitch, Pattern Maker, Filet Crochet Software just to name a few) that you can use to make your own graphs or you can do it manually by using graph paper and pencil(s). Most of the graphing software is meant for cross-stitching but it can usually be adapted for use in crocheting as long as you remember that crochet thread/yarn is NOT available in as many shades of color as embroidery floss is.
I do have a tutorial that I created for how I make my graphs using PC Stitch that you can read if you like starting on this page so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail as to how to make your own graph here. Please read my tutorial and give that a try. There's been quite a few people in the MoEZ group who have read my tutorial and used it when they first started making graphs until they got the hang of graphmaking. *S*
If you're feeling creative and/or have Paint Shop Pro (PSP), you may want to try using it to make a graph. (FYI - please do NOT e-mail to ask me how to make a graph using PSP as I will ignore those kind of requests.) I recently asked someone online what she used to make her graphs and she said that most of the graphs at her site were made by hand using PSP. She has a graph paper type template that she uses and then just colors in the picture because it's easier for her to keep the colors to a minimum. She hates to weave in ends so she tries to stick to graphs without 50 different shades of color. She said that she has used some other graphing programs geared toward cross stitch patterns but usually found that reducing the colors in the images she loaded usually distorted the design and created a bigger headache for her than just using PSP.
I definitely do recommend that you get IrfanView to use whether you are making your own graphs or just printing out graphs/patterns from sites online. IrfanView is "FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003." It definitely comes in handy for quite a few different things and I use it often!
A .pat file is a saved graph file from PC Stitch. From what I've been told by people who have used both PC Stitch and Pattern Maker programs, they each save pattern files made in each of them as .pat ones but you can't open a .pat file from Pattern Maker into PC Stitch or vice-versa. As far as I know right now, .pat files can only be opened up in whatever program that was used to make them like PC Stitch or Pattern Maker. Using any other program to try to open up those .pat files will only give you error messages/problems including IrfanView and Paint Shop Pro.
If you are having a problem opening up a .pat file that you either got from a friend or downloaded from the 'net somewhere into either Pattern Maker or PC Stitch, you may want to try to find out which program was used to make that particular .pat file. Chances are that if you have PC Stitch on your computer and a .pat file won't open up for you or you get some kind of error message when trying to open up the file, it's because it is a Pattern Maker .pat file or vice-versa.
Web page background, site, and design created by Cheryl (a.k.a. "Cinnaminn"). Originally created 18 May 2004 and updated as of 27 Sept. 2006. Guestbook courtesy of HTML Gear. Some graphics courtesy of Lacefairy.