Every individual who knits completes their craft differently than another knitters. For instance, some knitters might knit more or less stitches and rows when making the garment. This can cause the garment to be knitted too big, lopsided or too small. That is why it’s important to knit a swatch gauge. Regardless of how you complete your knitting project, do not forget that the type of knitting needles used is also an important factor when making a swatch gauge.
1. Knit a 4" x 4" swatch or square using the same yarn that you are going to use for your project. For example, cast on 20 stitches on an empty knitting needle and knit approximately 10 rows in the stockinette stitch. Stockinette stitch consist of knitting one row and purling the next.
2. When you are finished, dampen or wash your sample swatch before measuring and blocking it. Do this according to the manufacturer’s instruction on the label. Pin the swatch on a clean surface and allow the swatch to dry. Treat it like you would treat you finished garment.
3. Look at the label on the package of yarn to match the stitch and rows per inch gauge recommended for the yarn that you purchased (instructions). If they match your stitch and row count then you are ready to start knitting.
However, if they do not match, and you have too many stitches and rows, then you are knitting too tightly. For those who knit tightly you will have to use a larger knitting needle to get the correct gauge. On the other hand, if you have fewer stitches and rows then you are knitting too loosely. Then you have to use smaller knitting needles.
If you are knitting a garment in stockinette or cable stitch you need to block and stretch out the swatch before measuring.
You can purchase a swatch gauge counter at your local craft store, if you do not want to count the number of stitches and rows.