Yowza Gauge Challenge

We've had a few patterns published using our yarn where the yardage required is close enough to the yardage in our skeins that gauge really can make the difference between whether or not the project can be completed as written. We all know gauge varies from knitter to knitter, but how much can it really vary? Quite a lot, as it turns out!

unblocked swatches

Inspired by the test described in this blog post, the knitters at the Miss Babs studio decided to conduct our own test. Babs, Jen, Veronica, Carmen, Helen, and Ivy each knit a swatch using the same skein of yarn and same pair of needles. Each swatch is 28 stitches wide, and 30 rows tall (including the bind off row).

soaking swatches

Once all six swatches were knit, we blocked them by soaking them, squeezing out the water, and patting them flat to dry. In addition to the gauge differences described in the original experiment, we were also interested in how much yardage each swatch used. 

drying swatches

Our finished swatches ranged from 5x4.5" to 5.75x4.75", and about 14 yds to 19 yds. 

That's not a big deal in a small swatch like this, but if we were all to knit a project ten times this size, we would use 140 to 190 yds (a 50 yd difference), and if it were something even larger like a big shawl, a poncho or sweater that had 100 times the number of stitches in our swatches, we would have a 500 yd difference. 

Swatching really does matter--even in small projects--if your yardage is tight!!

Swatch Details:

Swatch  Dimensions Area           Estimated Yardage
1 5.625x4.75" 26.72 sq. inches 17.5 yds
2 5.75x4.675" 26.59 sq. inches 17.5 yds
3 5.75x4.75" 27.31 sq. inches 19 yds
4 5x4.25" 21.25 sq. inches 14 yds
5 5.5x4.5" 24.75 sq. inches 15.5 yds
6 5.5x4.75" 26.13 sq. inches 17.5 yds


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I thought it was just me. Glad to see this. I too have run short with MC yarn especially on the large shawls. Inara I too used a smaller needle and 20 less stitches.


I’m curious to know who the super-tight knitters are! :-)

Sarah B

This is really interesting. Would love to know which techniques were used??


This is so true. I had to cut the number of cast on stitches by 20 for the Torquata wrap. I liked the fabric I was getting using a #4 needle on Yummy 2-ply, so I adjusted the pattern rather than needle size. I would definitely have run out of each gradient color if I hadn’t cut the number of stitches.


I’d be curious which (if any) are knit continental and which English.

Robin Reed

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