I see a lot of questions about gauge. What is gauge? Why is gauge important? Mostly I see How many pegs do I cast on? Followed with the size for a specific item. I have been personally asked a number of times to calculate a peg count. So maybe it’s time to discuss gauge, making swatches, and calculating peg counts.
What is gauge?
The term is used for 2 different things: loom gauge and swatch gauge. Let’s start with loom gauge.
What is loom gauge?
In needle knitting and crochet, the gauge of the needles and hooks is the diameter measured in millimeters. Sometimes letter or numbers are then used to represent the gauge. In loom knitting, looms are measured and sized differently. When people talk about the single knit gauge of the loom it is either described as extra large, large, regular, small, fine, and extra fine. Those sizes are determined from the center to center peg spacing. Some will abbreviate it to c2c peg spacing. Why is it center to center of the peg? Gauge is actually determined how far the yarn travels for a stitch. So we need an easy way to measure that. The easiest way to determine that is by measuring from the center of the peg to the center of the next peg.
Peg size can also affect gauge. The bigger the peg, the further the yarn must travel to make the stitch. So that is something to keep in mind as well since some looms have the same center to center peg spacing but have different size pegs.
But for simplicity sake, we will talk about the peg spacing only.
Here is the center to center peg spacing in relationship to gauge size for knitting looms:
Extra Large: 13/16” and larger
Large: 5/8”, 11/16”, 3/4″
Regular: 7/16”, 1/2”, 9/16”
Fine: 1/4”, 5/16”
Extra Fine: 3/16”
How do I measure my pegs to know the gauge?
You will take a ruler or tape measure that has the inch divided in 16ths and measure from the center of the peg to the center the peg next to it.
Double knit gauge is determined not only by how far apart the pegs are but also by how far apart the rails are on the rake. The farther apart the rails, the larger the gauge.
What is swatch gauge?
When you are making something where size is important, you will need to make a swatch to determine your gauge. This is also referred to as your tension which is how tight or how loose you work your stitches.
You will need to know your tension for almost everything you make. More than just sweaters need gauge achieved. Socks, hats, headbands, mittens, even blankets will need to be a certain size. Therefore you need to know if your tension will match that of the pattern in order for the item to fit. The stitch used and also the yarn used will affect your gauge. Different fibers work up differently. And so do different stitches. So if you use a different yarn with a different fiber content than the one recommended for the pattern, it may not turn out the same. Same if you substitute different stitches than the ones called for in the pattern.
How do I swatch?
Different people will swatch differently. This is the way I make a swatch.
Patterns will call for gauge using either a 4” or 2” square.
For large gauge, I will measure how many pegs are in 5”. For small gauge, I will measure how many pegs are in 3”. Then I work my swatch in the required stitch over that many pegs. Then I work the number of rows to get 4-5” on large gauge or 2-3” on small gauge.
Then I measure my work with a ruler. You will count the number of stitches in the 2” or 4” across a row
and how many rows are in 2” or 4” depending on your gauge loom.
If your swatch matches the gauge on the pattern, then you are ready to get started.
If you have more stitches and rows than is listed for the gauge, your tension is too tight, and you will need to work with a looser tension.
If you have less stitches and rows than is listed, your tension is too loose, and you will need to work with a tighter tension.
Both of those can be achieved by how much you pull on the yarn while working your stitches. So do not pull as much to make it looser or pull a little bit more to make it tighter. When you pull on the yarn, it stretches. And stitches worked while the yarn is stretched will be tighter once the tension is released and the yarn returns to it’s original shape.
How do I know how many pegs to cast on?
Now comes the “fun” part of knitting. Math. Unlike most people, I LOVE math. Numbers never lie… But I do realize that most people have a hard time with math and would rather avoid it. So let’s discuss how to calculate peg count.
Here is the cheat sheet to what is written in the equations.
- When you see a lower case x in the equation, it means to multiply.
- When you see a forward slash /, it means to divide.
- When you see part of it in parenthesis ( ), you will work the part in the parenthesis first then calculate the rest equation.
- Just get a piece of paper and write your numbers down. Then substitute the numbers for the letters in the equation. Grab a calculator and solve!
- I realize I have lost about 90% of you right here…
You are wanting to make a blanket of a certain size using e-wrap. How do you know how many pegs to cast on? Well first you will need to make a swatch and count how many stitches and rows you have in an inch. Make your swatch following the directions above and measure.
Say you have 4 stitches in an inch, and you want your blanket to be 5 feet wide. You will need to change your unit of measurement first to the smallest unit. Therefore you will need to change the feet into inches. So you will multiple 5 feet by 12 inches per foot or
5 x 12 = 60 inches
Now, for the stitch count, you will multiple 60 inches by 4 stitches per inch or
60 x 4 = 240 stitches
So you will cast on 240 pegs.
You will do the same for the number of rows when calculating how many rows to work. Just replace how many rows in an inch for the number of stitches. But you can always just measure your work if you are going by inches instead of counting rows.
Here is the equation to plug your numbers into once you have all of your measurements:
- Number of inches desired to work: A
- Number of stitches or rows in an inch from your swatch: B
- Number of pegs to cast on or number of rows to work (the answer): C
A x B = C
What if I want to use a different gauge loom than the one required in the pattern?
If you are wanting to use a loom with a different gauge than the one used in the pattern but want the same size, first thing you need to realize is that a different gauge will change the size even when the measurement of the pegs is the same. But here is how you will calculate the peg number. Just remember it may not turn out the same size.
I warn you. There is a lot more math involved here…
Say you want to make a hat on the All-n-One loom that is written for the 41 peg round Knifty Knitter loom because you only want to use 1 strand of worsted weight yarn and get smaller stitches instead of using 2 strands of worsted or 1 strand of bulky or super bulky.
From now on when I refer to peg spacing, I am referring to the center to center peg spacing.
First you will need to know the gauge of the looms. In this case, the 41 peg round Knifty Knitter loom has a peg spacing of 13/16”, and the All-n-One loom has a peg spacing of 3/8”. Then you will need to calculate the circumference of the center of the pegs on the 41 peg loom. To do that you will multiple the number of pegs by the peg spacing. For this loom, you will multiple 41 pegs by 13, then divide by 16.
41 x 13 / 16 = 33.3”
So you will want a peg circumference of 33.3” on the All-n-One loom, and you know that the peg spacing on this loom is 3/8”. So you will multiply 33.3 by 8, then divide by 3.
33.3 x 8 / 3 = 88.8 pegs
Now you can either use 88 pegs or 89 pegs. On the AIO loom, it can be tricky to use an odd number so you may want to use either 88 or 90 pegs.
Here are the equations to plug in your numbers.
- Number of pegs on original loom: A
- Top number of fraction of peg spacing on original loom: B
- Bottom number of fraction of peg spacing on original loom: C
- Circumference of original loom: D
- Top number of fraction of peg spacing on new loom: E
- Bottom number of fraction of peg spacing on new loom: F
- Number of pegs on new loom: P
Equation for calculating the circumference on the original loom:
A x B / C = D
Now calculating the new loom peg count:
D x F / E = P
Now there is a way to calculate that all together. Here is the equation that you will plug your numbers in to get your answer.
(A x B x F) / (C x E) = P
Whew! If you made it this far, you deserve a gold star! That was deep. Should have warned you to wear hip boots… Now go calculate your peg count for some stylish boot cuffs for those hip boots you need to wear to wade through all that math!
I hope this helps answer some of those questions that are frequently asked in regards to gauge.
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We are bringing you a new feature to our blog! Every second Friday of the month, we will feature a design by one of our customers. Our second installment in this tradition features a pattern by Bethany Dailey. Reminiscent of ballet slippers, this exquisite design will have you reaching for your EFG Sock Loom! To contact Bethany, simply submit a comment at the bottom of this post.
Knitting loom: KB EFG Sock Loom (set to 60 pegs in the round for ladies size 6.5-8.5).
Yarn: 1 skein Patons Stretch Socks (sample in Plum), Super Fine #1 weight, 239 yards, 41% cotton /39% wool / 13% nylon / 7% elastic
Notions: loom tool, 3mm crochet hook (for cast on and help with possible missed stitches, etc), (2) size 3 double pointed knitting needles (for Kitchener Grafting), stitch markers, scissors, yarn needle, row counter, measuring tape
Gauge: 8.5 stitches and 13 rows per inch in stitch pattern.
Skills Needed: True Knit Stitch or U-stitch, E-wrap, Purl, Double Wrap Short Row Method (shown in video links below), 2 peg I-Cord, Kitchener Stitch (or other grafting method), Picot Edging, CO, and BO (as described in pattern notes)
CO: cast on
K: knit stitch or U-stitch, as desired
P: purl stitch
KO: knit off
WY: working yarn
BO: Bind off
This pattern is created for ladies size 6.5-8.5, as the nature of the stretchable sock yarn allows for forgivable sizing. If you’d prefer a smaller or larger size, just add or decrease pegs as needed.
All knit stitches are either worked as a true knit stitch, or as a U-stitch, not e-wrap.
Video Tutorials and Web Tools:
Picot Cast On (Bethany Dailey’s version)
Kitchener Grafting Stitch Tutorial (at the bottom of Twisting Vines Socks)
Picot Stitches Instructions:
Picot Edging: Where called for in pattern, at the beginning of each panel knit row, EW and KO turning peg 5 times to create chain. When turning to knit the next row, slip (skip) this peg.
Picot Cast On: (note: when called for in pattern, you will already have a base loop on the starting peg)
- * -EW and KO 5 times on 1st CO peg to create chain.
- -Remove loop from peg and place on crochet hook.
- -Place hook with loop just before the peg you chained on, and point towards the inside of the loom.
- -Wrap WY around the front of the peg, towards the next peg in line.
- -Snag WY to the back of the peg with crochet hook, and pull through chain loop to create a new loop.
- -Place new loop onto next empty peg.
- -Repeat from * until you’ve reached the next peg with a base loop. At the base loop peg, knit 2 loops off as one on the first EW KO, then complete 4 more, to equal 5 EW’s.
Picot Bind Off:
- * -EW and KO 5 times on 1st BO peg.
- -Move loop from 2nd BO peg to 1st BO peg, KO.
- -Move loop back to 2nd BO peg.
- -Repeat from * to last BO peg.
Set loom to 60 pegs in the round. CO to 30 of the pegs, centering stitches on a long section of the loom. (Note: if you have adjusted the number of pegs being used for an alternate fit, just CO half of the new number.)
Knit first row on all 30 pegs, then using Heel and Toe Part I, decrease until there are 10 pegs unwrapped. (Note: if you have adjusted the number of pegs being used for an alternate fit, just decrease to a third of the total short row pegs.)
Using Heel and Toe Part 2, increase back to a full 30 pegs. After wrapping peg 30, knit back to peg 1. Pegs 1 & 30 will still have wrapped loops-just knit these loops together as one during the next row.
Carefully stretch CO edge across loom and place onto the corresponding pegs on the other side of the loom, filling all 60 pegs. (If this stretch is just too much for your chosen yarn, you can instead CO the empty pegs with your working yarn. You’ll then need to graft these edges together later, during the finishing steps of this project.)
*(Note: you will now be knitting from the first peg after the heel section (your new peg 1) toward the newly CO pegs, then proceeding on to the heel pegs. Please adjust the numbers of the pegs to reflect this change.)
Place stitch markers on pegs 11 and 20.
Knit 12 rounds using all 60 pegs in the following pattern:
- -Pegs 1-10: K
- -Pegs 11-20: K, P, K, P…
- -Pegs 21-60: K
Row 13: K pegs 1-10, Picot BO pegs 11-20, K pegs 21-60 & 1-10.
*To connect the picot trim on the heel to the trim you will now begin creating on the sides, you’ll need to pull up the base of the 5 EW chain from peg 11 up onto peg 10. Treat these 2 loops as one in the next steps.
*Please now make peg 10 your new peg 1 and work the next rows from this point.
Instep Rows: Knit in the following 2-Row pattern until the entire length of knitting measures the total length desired for foot minus 3.5” (3” for toe and .5” for negative ease) (Note: Sample used 56 rows):
- -Picot Edging, slip peg and turn.
- -Pegs 2-4: Purl
- -Pegs 5-50: Knit
- -Picot Edging, slip peg and turn.
- -Pegs 49-47: Purl
- -Pegs 46-1: Knit
Once you’ve reached your planned measurement, Picot CO to 10 empty pegs so that all 60 are filled. Complete the round in Knit, so you are back to your original peg #1.
Re-number your pegs so that they are continuing in this direction for the following rounds.
Knit 6 rounds using all 60 pegs in the following pattern:
- -Pegs 1-10: K
- -Pegs 11-20: K, P, K, P…
- -Pegs 21-60: K
Complete the next 18 rounds in the Knit stitch.
Repeat the same steps that you used to turn the heel, making sure to use the same pegs and side of the loom as before.
Remove the live loops from the loom and graft edges to close the toe, using the Kitchener Stitch (see tutorial included in this post for instructions). If required, repeat the same technique for the heel section.
For tie strings, pull up 2 stitches from the edge of your sock, where you prefer for your tie to be attached, and create an 8” 2 Peg I-Cord for the instep, and a 5” 2 Peg I-Cord for the outside. (2 Peg I-Cord Tutorial)
Weave in all ends. Work all steps once more for your completed pair of Pretty Peds!