Why gauge. I admit, I have learned the hard way about the importance of a gauge swatch. When I start a new project, I want to get going right away and don’t want to stop and gauge. However, I have learned through many trials and errors that taking the time to make a gauge swatch saves time in the end. Gauge is especially important when you are making a fitted item such as a sweater. However, even when making a scarf or a shawl where size is not as critical, if you don’t gauge, you may end up not having the right amount of yarn for your project. You certainly don’t want to make that discovery after the same dye lot is no longer available. The pattern will indicate the number of stitches and rows and the type of stitch used to make a gauge swatch. The gauge swatch is usually 4 inches square. I usually cast on a few extra stitches at each end and also knit a few extra rows so when I measure my gauge swatch, I can avoid measuring on ends that want to curl. You can use a ruler to measure 4 inches and then count the number of stitches and rows. You could also create a tool to help you by cutting s matte like you would use to frame a photo with the inner opening measuring 4 inches square. Then you can just count the number of stitches and rows in the opening to get your gauge. Many knitters also recommend blocking your gauge. This step is very important for a fitted item. You don’t want to knit a perfectly fitted sweater only to have it stretch out after washing. If your gauge is off, you can adjust your needle size as needed. If you have too few stitches in the 4 inch frame, then decrease your needle size and create a new gauge swatch. If you have too many stitches, then increase your needle size. Most importantly, don’t skip this step or you too will learn about gauge the hard way.