Finally—A Gauge You Can Live With!
Knowing your stitch tension is important, but it seems silly to crochet a traditional 4 x 4-inch gauge swatch, to check stitch tension for a crocheted flower. By the time you’re done with the swatch, you could have finished two or three flowers.
This thought nagged me as I began work on Crochet Garden. The suggested tension for all the projects in the book is a “firm gauge,” no matter what yarn you use. On the other hand, I realized that readers might appreciate knowing how their stitch tension compared with that of the sample flowers.
The flowers and motifs of Crochet Garden didn’t need to be an exact size, unlike a garment. For a sweater or an afghan, one-half stitch per inch difference between your gauge and the published gauge can translate to several inches difference in the finished piece.
Flowers are small enough that a fraction of a stitch per inch doesn’t make that much difference in the finished size. Your stitch tension has to be only approximately right. When all you need is an approximate idea of gauge, I reasoned, you can go with a much smaller gauge swatch. Eureka! The gauge circle was born.
If you are using the same yarn or the same weight of yarn that is used in any pattern of Crochet Garden, the gauge circle will tell you if your stitch tension is close enough to the tension in the sample. Later, I discovered that the gauge circle had other benefits as well.
Here’s how to make and measure a gauge circle:
Ch 4, join with a sl st in 1st ch to form a ring.
Rnd 1: ch 2, 11 hdc in ring, cut thread and needle-join to 1st st of rnd.
To measure the Gauge Circle, place it on top of a measuring tape or ruler. Arrange it so the inch or cm mark barely shows at one edge of it. Measure across the widest dimension of the circle (its diameter).
If your gauge circle is larger than the one listed in the instructions, you might want to use a smaller hook; if it is smaller, try a larger hook. For these small projects, close enough is close enough.
The gauge circle saves time, while giving you a good idea of your stitch tension. What are its other benefits?
- You will become very skilled at needle-joining, which is explained in Crochet Garden. Needle-joining invisibly joins rounds of crochet.
- You will have many small filler motifs for your next flower cloth project. Have a look at the Trillium Scarf on this blog from two weeks ago—all the turquoise pieces are gauge circles.
- Here’s my favorite: you can make a gauge circle in any yarn and calculate about how big any motif in Crochet Garden will be, if you make it with that yarn. More about this next week.