What About Row Gauge?
Sue Burns writes: "I understand how gauge affects size and fit -- really, I do. But the thing that frustrates me to no end about gauge is that it is usually given in terms of stitches AND rows per inch. Generally, I can get one or the other, but never both at the same time. Since 'fit' involves gauge in both directions, what's a knitter to do? The recent newsletter article only addressed the issue of stitches per inch, leaving rows out of the equation. Help!"
Good question! Ideally, when we get the right number of stitches per inch, the rows will follow and match the given gauge. But as you rightly point out, if you're not using the exact yarn specified in the pattern or if your knitting style varies at all from the designer's, you may only be able to get the stitch or the row gauge, not both.
If this happens, it's best to go with the needles that give you the stitch gauge. Whether you're knitting a sweater in pieces or in the round, there is no changing it once you have cast on the number of stitches for the width and begun knitting. However, you can always knit more or fewer rows to get to the desired length from the bottom to the underarm, the depth of the armhole, etc. These measurements are usually given in inch values. For example, a pattern might state, "Work even in pattern until piece measures 10 inches from the cast-on edge" or "work even until armhole measures 9 inches." The only time you might run into a problem is if the pattern specifies knitting a set number of rows in order to maintain the integrity of a decorative pattern. In this case you'll need to follow the directions as written.
If the row gauge is so far off that following the directions will leave you with a sweater that is too short or too long, consider adding or subtracting an extra full or partial pattern repeat before beginning any shaping. I hope that helps.
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