Crochet Design Basics: How to use gauge to calculate stitch and row counts, crochet to measure and adjust to fit!
Gauge is essential to good crochet design. I can’t emphasise that enough. It’s the reason I’ve written a lot about it lately, including why gauge matters, when you should swatch and how to make and measure your gauge swatch.
In this post, I will focus on helping you put all that together and use your gauge measurement to create a piece of crochet made to your specific measurements. In other words, I’ll teach you how to work out how many stitches and rows you need to work to make a specific size of fabric.
We are going to keep it to a simple rectangle here but once you get the concept, you can apply it to other shapes and sizes and get on your way to creating your own crochet designs! Understanding the principles will also allow you to adjust or adapt existing patterns to suit your needs.
For illustration purposes, lets say you have a stitch pattern you like and you want to make a scarf with it. I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to calculate your stitch and row counts. If you have a project in mind then I encourage you to work along side with your own numbers!
1. Gather the information
I have learned over my years of designing that if you have all the information you need before you get started then the making process will go a lot smoother. I know it is the less fun side, but believe me, it will save you a lot of time if you start from a solid foundation!
So before you start, you’ll need to answer some basic questions:
What size do you want to make?
Firstly decide on the size of fabric you want to make. This can be any size or shape but for the purpose of this example, let’s imagine you’re going to make a scarf that’s 150 cm long and 28cm wide where the length is in rows and the width is in stitches.
Decide on your stitch pattern
What stitch pattern are you using and what multiple is it worked to?
The stitch multiple is the number of stitches needed in your foundation row or chain. It’s the number of stitches to make one full stitch repeat along with any additional stitches you may need to fit the pattern into a row.
You may see this written as something along the lines of 3+2 so this would mean that you need 3 stitches for each repeat and 2 more to complete the row (e.g .one extra stitch on each end of the row).
In the swatch you see pictured I’ve used a version of sedge stitch, which works 1sc, 2dc into the same stitch, skips 2 sts and repeats. This stitch pattern is worked with a multiple of exactly 3 stitches (this is a swatch I just made for a future pattern and seemed like a good example to use here – excuse my multi tasking!!).
Depending on your pattern repeat, you may also have a row multiple. This stitch pattern doesn’t, but think about whether your pattern needs to finish on a certain row or on the wrong or right side. Your row repeat may also have a plus or minus to account for set up rows etc.
What is your gauge?
Make a gauge swatch using your chosen stitch pattern a minimum of 12.5cm / 5in square.
Measure you gauge swatch and write out your gauge statement – you can read this post if you’ve not done this before.
This is the gauge statement for the stitch pattern we’re working with.
18 sts and 13 rows over 10cm of stitch pattern using a 4mm hook.
2. Do the maths!
Please don’t be scared by the word maths. I promise it’s not as daunting as it can sometimes seem!
Now you have all the information you can work out how many stitches you need to work across to achieve the width of your scarf and how many rows you will need for the desired length.
Work out your stitch count
My stitch gauge is 18 stitches in 10cm, so dividing 18 by 10 tells me that each centimetre of fabric across requires 1.8 stitches.
So to meet the required width of 28cm, I need to multiply 1.8 by 28 which is 50.4 stitches.
Now obviously you can’t work part of a stitch so you’ll need to round off to the nearest whole number which, in this case would be 50.
We’re not done yet though. Remember our stitch multiple of 3? 50 is not a multiple of 3 so I’ll need to adjust to the nearest multiple which, in this case, would be 51 – giving me 17 stitch pattern repeats (51/3=17).
So let’s summarises the formula for stitch count:
stitch gauge (18sts) / gauge measurement (10cm) x required measurement (28cm) = number of stitches needed (51)
A note about rounding
Generally I tend towards rounding up (i.e. adding stitches) rather than down but it would depend on the stitch pattern and item that I’m making. You discretion as a designer comes into play here. It won’t be the last judgement call you’ll need to make!
Work out your row count
Now we do the same calculation for your rows. Let’s start with the formula first this time. I’ve added the example numbers into the brackets. Remember you’re looking for a scarf length of 150cm.
The formula for row count:
Row gauge (13) / gauge measurement (10cm) x required measurement (150) = number of rows to be worked (195)
As you can see, each cm of length requires 1.3 rows (13/10), so to find out the number of rows needed to reach your desired length of 150cm, you multiply 1.3 by 150cm, which gives you 195 rows.
We don’t have a row multiple here, but if you do, remember to account for it in your rounding!
Put it all together
So now you know that you need to work 51 stitches and 195 rows to make your scarf measuring 28cm wide by 150cm long.
All there is to do now is get comfy, pick up your hook and start crocheting!
You can use this method to work out the stitch and row counts for any crochet fabric.
You can also use it to adjust existing patterns to fit your needs – you just need to make sure of your gauge and work out the stitch and row repeat multiples and you can decide how many stitches or rows to add or remove!
Taking it to the next level – how to use this method for shaping
Once you’ve got the basics you can use this method to shape fabric. I wont go into shaping in detail here (that will be for another post!), but I have outlined the basic approach to shaping below:
Say you’re making a skirt and you want it narrower at the waist than the hem. Use the method I have described to work out the number of stitches you need round the waist and the number you need at the hem.
Subtract the waist count from the hem count and you’ll know how many stitches you need to increase by (assuming you’re working waist down) over the length of the skirt.
Work out the number of rows you’ll need for the skirt(based on how long you want the skirt to be). Decide how you distribute those increases over the length of the skirt (designers prerogative again!) and you are away!
I hope you found this post useful and it has increased you’re understanding about how to use gauge.