For a scarf/wrap, I am following a pattern that says "Gauge: 25 stitches = 4 inches".

Does this mean I am measuring the width, i.e. the number of stitches cast on, and not the number of rows? I always thought you count the number of rows..

  • Welcome! ... not trying to be flippant but - if it's a scarf, does the gauge really matter too much? Without seeing the pattern it's difficult to tell how important it is... often, the info you need to be concerned with for a scarf is how wide it is and you can make it the length you like by simply stopping the knitting. So, (assuming the narrow width is how you're working it) perhaps that's the only part that's really important?
    – Catija
    Jul 25, 2017 at 23:06
  • Hmm, I suppose that makes sense - what I want to avoid is having a "loose" looking patterns - I want to make sure I don't see gaps between stitches and rows. That's why I thought the gauge would be more important
    – Jamie
    Jul 26, 2017 at 1:01
  • Perhaps if you shared the pattern? Is it from a website?
    – Catija
    Jul 26, 2017 at 1:03
  • Yep - this one: purlsoho.com/create/2014/10/19/cashmere-ombre-wrap - doing seed stitch
    – Jamie
    Jul 26, 2017 at 1:14

2 Answers 2


Usually, the gauge is given in both stitches and rows, for example "Gauge: 10 sts/15 rows = 4 inches in stockinette (regular knit) stitch."

You rightfully care about gauge - and typically should always check it - to insure that your final product will have the correct dimensions.

The three elements of how to adjust your gauge are: (1) needle size (2) yarn weight, and (3) tension.

You can adust any of the above to get the correct gauge. Usually, the variable you will modify is needle size, since how you knit is just how you knit (the tension of your knitting is characteristic of how you knit).

The weight of the yarn is not usually something you want to change since you have carefully picked out your yarn in advance (and are making your gauge swatch from it!).

Since your pattern does not stipulate the number of rows in the gauge, I recommend just checking the number of stitches in the row - the horizontal dimension, and adust to obtain the correct width. (note: As one commentator suggested, a scarf is one instance where the length may not matter as much as it would with a structured item like a sweater.)

Here is a more detailed, but simple, explanation and a good reference for checking gauge: follow:http://sheepandstitch.com/what-is-knitting-gauge/

Good luck and happy knitting!

  • So what should the OP do in this case, where the gauge only tells the width? Is the row height unimportant? :D You have a lot of great info in here. A little nudge would make this a really great answer.
    – Catija
    Jul 26, 2017 at 4:13
  • 1
    For many patterns the row height is much less important than the number of stitches per inch, because you can keep working to add more length to an item if your row height is too small, or stop working sooner if your row height is larger than the gauge shown.
    – magerber
    Jul 28, 2017 at 21:50

Yes, it does mean that you measure the width(stitches per inch) and ignore the height(rows per inch) when you check your gauge.

Often, patterns that give a stitch gauge but don't give a row gauge will include how long/high to go before moving on to the next section. For instance the instructions for a hat might say:

Cast on 100 st., join in the round. Work in rib for 1-1/2 inches. Continue in stockinette until the work is 6 inches from the start.

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