Welcome to Lesson 5 of the Tunisian Crochet Course. In this lesson, we will learn all about gauge in Tunisian crochet. If this is your first time hearing about this Tunisian crochet course, then you will want to check out the Prep Lesson and Lesson 1 first to learn more about the materials you will need for this course and the Tunisian crochet basics.
In January 2021, we are treating this course like a Crochet along. It is always fun to learn new things alongside others. To participate in the crochet along, just join the Our Crochet Journey Facebook group to be able to share photos of your work.
All About Gauge in Tunisian Crochet
How Gauge Affects Size
Have you ever crocheted a project, following the pattern perfectly, but then found the final item was too big or too small? This is because everyone crochets with a different tension. Some crochet loosely, some really tight, and some in the middle. The tension affects how big your stitches are and the overall size of the project. This is why patterns include a gauge to help you determine what hook to use for the project.
What is Gauge?
Gauge is the number of stitches for a certain number of inches and the number of rows for a certain number of inches. Here is an example of how the gauge will be written.
4 Tunisian Simple Stitches (TSS) x 5 Rows = 1 inch
This means that if you measure the width of 4 simples stitches they should equal 1 inch. If they are smaller than 1 inch then your project will turn out smaller. If the 4 stitches are larger than 1 inch then your project will turn out larger than the pattern says. This is the same for the rows. If you measure 5 rows up it should equal 1 inch.
When writing the gauge, designers will use a whole number like 4 stitches instead of 4.5 stitches. Because of this, some gauges may be per 1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, or 4 inches. They simply use the measurement that provides them a whole number of stitches.
Determining Your Gauge
Gauge is pretty easy to determine. You just need to work up a sample of the stitch the gauge indicates. Then you will use a measuring tool to measure the gauge. I prefer to use a hard tool like a quilter’s square, ruler or this nifty gauge ruler I bought on Etsy. A flexible ruler will work as well but you need to hold it perfectly straight to get a good reading.
You can use straight pins to mark the number of stitches you are measuring if that makes it easier. In my samples above I have worsted weight yarn worked with a 6.5mm hook and an 8 mm hook. The gauge for the 6.5mm hook is 11 TSS x 10 rows = 3 inches. The 8mm hook gave me a gauge of 3 TSS x 3 rows = 1 inch.
Adjusting your Gauge
If you are using the recommended hook and yarn, but your gauge does not match, then you will want to adjust your hook size. Here is some examples.
If you have less stitches than recommended for the measurement listed, then try a hook that is one size smaller.
If you have more stitches than recommended for the measurement listed, then try a hook that is one size larger.
Be aware that you may not find a hook that gets the exact gauge. Just use the hook that gets the closest gauge.
What affects Gauge?
Gauge can be affected by several things. Here are some of the common ones below.
Hook Size – The biggest factor is hook size. We will use the hook size to adjust our gauge.
Yarn – If you use a different yarn weight than the pattern recommends, your gauge will vary greatly. Larger yarn means a larger project, and smaller yarn will give you a smaller project. Even if you are using the same yarn weight as the pattern, different yarn lines and colors will have a different thickness and this affects the gauge. In the same yarn line, I have noticed that saturated colors like red and black are thicker, and striped or pooled yarns are thinner.
Mood/Tension – Your tension affects the gauge. You may be a tight crocheter or a loose crocheter, but you may also crochet tighter when you are upset.
Stitch Used – Ideally you will use the same stitch as the pattern but if you change the stitch at all like from the double crochet to the linked double crochet, your gauge can change. In Tunisian crochet, I have noticed that the Smock stitch tends to have a smaller gauge than the others.
Do I have to Check My Gauge?
How important it is to check your gauge depends on the project. I would never start a sweater or cardigan project without checking my gauge first. Large projects are not fun to rip out and start over, so it is worth the time to make a gauge swatch and check your gauge.
I will be honest, a lot of times I do not make a gauge swatch. Instead, I work 1-2 rows of my pattern and then measure the stitches per inch part of the gauge to see if I am close. This works well for smaller patterns like hats and ear warmers.
For projects like bags, washcloths, and other items that are not worn, I will skip checking my gauge. The size may vary a little bit but it isn’t a huge deal in these types of projects.
Homework is easy this time. Grab any of the practice patterns or practice swatches you have made and measure your gauge on each project.
Is the gauge the same for every stitch?
If you have more than one hook, try making a small swatch with another hook size and measure your gauge. Observe how it changes.
Or you can try a different weight of yarn with the same size hook and see how the gauge changes.
Feel free to share the gauge you can up with on the Facebook post for this lesson and check out other’s gauges to see how they vary from person to person.
What is next?
Continue to lesson 6 to learn the Tunisian Full Stitch.
Week 1: The Basics
Lesson 5 – Understanding Gauge
Lesson 6 – Tunisian Full Stitch
Practice Pattern 3 – January 21st + Weaving in Your Ends
Lesson 7– How to Increase and Decrease
Lesson 8 – January 27th – New Tunisian Crochet Stitch
Practice Pattern – January 28th
Let’s Be Friends
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