I hear you. Doing a gauge swatch is boring. You have a lovely ball of yarn in your hands and you just want to get started!
But did you know that if your gauge is off, you may end up using more yarn than is recommended? And if you’ve purchased a kit, that may mean you run out!
What does gauge have to do with yarn usage?
We’re used to thinking about gauge as telling you how big your finished product is going to be. If you’re crocheting a stuffed animal, you may not mind if the result is 1/2 inch bigger… but that doesn’t mean you can skip the gauge swatch!
When you measure gauge, you measure the height and width of the stitch.
But a stitch is made by wrapping the yarn around your hook or needle. And bigger stitches are made with bigger loops.
A bigger loop on your hook or needle uses more yarn!
If you’re a loose crocheter or knitter, that means that your loops are a bit bigger than standard… and you’ll use up a bit more yarn!
What to do
First of all, do a gauge swatch! It’s the only way to know if you’re really on target with your stitches.
If your stitches are loosey-goosey, then check out this post on how to get an even gauge in crochet. It isn’t pictured, but a similar technique applies to knitting.
You might also want to read some tips for getting accurate row gauge.
And, if your gauge is off, you’ll want to change your hook/needle size. Going down a size will give you slightly smaller stitches.
You might also want to check out if you’re committing one of these common gauge sins.
Finally… this is only tangentially related to the issue of gauge, but it’s a great chart, so I want to share! There are more tidbits about calculating yardage in this blog post.