Needle-lessly Troublesome Gauge

The day after I wrote the last post, two things occurred. The weather got infinitely better and I measured my swatch for Bonny by tincanknits. My gauge was so badly off, I needed to go out into the sunshine and forget about it.

It is a favourite trick of mine to work out the measurements of the garment should I knit it at that gauge. I discovered this trick when chatting to my mother about a swatch she had just knit.

The glorious weather in Edinburgh

She was swatching for a jumper, and her swatch gave her a gauge a stitch more per four inches than the pattern gauge. She was trying to convince herself that was close enough and that she did not need to reswatch because “it was only one stitch out”.


While listening to her, like the annoying daughter I am, I wondered how much it would actually affect the measurements. I’ll show the calculation below, but it’s straightforward enough that by the time she had finished talking I could tell her what the finished measurement of her garment would be at that gauge.  It was a shock.

Finding the finished measurements of a garment intended to be knit for a 40″ bust when the stitch gauge is off by 1 stitch per 4 inches. 


While it might only be one stitch different over four inches, it would have resulted in a bust circumference two inches smaller than she would have expected. That’s the difference between a jumper that fits and one that you never wear!


In my case, instead of a 32 inch chest circumference, I would have made a garment that measured 25 inches at the bust. Would that fit a seven year old? It certainly would not fit me! I like to be able to breathe, thank you. This is meant to be a fun summer knit not a torture device.


I’ve ended up going up from a 3.25mm needle to a 4mm needle. It’s the kind of thing that does my head in so I’ll repeat the often quoted rules here:

  • Too many stitches per inch: use a larger needle
  • Too few stitches per inch: use a smaller needle
  • For every stitch per inch you are off by: go up/down by 0.5mm.

Of course, the 4mm needle I had close to hand was in use, so I had* to finish knitting one of the blanket squares for my Game of Thrones blanket first.

Such a hardship having to finish knitting the Greyjoy square of the Game of Thrones Blanket

But here it is, cast on and with the best chance of it actually fitting me!

The beginnings of a Bonny by Tin Can Knits

*Oh those rules we place on ourselves! It was a bit ridiculous but I am glad to be another square closer to a blanket

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