Unfortunately for some of us, gauge knitting involves making a nice big gauge swatch. For best results, you bind it off, then wash and dry it as you would your knitted item. When you measure across two or four inches in the middle you discover the exact number of stitches you get per inch. If the very idea of a gauge swatch gives you the willies, you may just cast on in hopes anything close to gauge is good enough. Hello, math fudge.
Let’s talk about fudge.
In knitting, there are two kinds of fudge: unforgiving fudge and beneficial fudge.
Unforgiving fudge–not the delicious kind that expands your hips.
Let’s say your sock pattern wants a gauge of 8 stitches per inch on 64 stitches for a sock that measures 8 inches around your foot. Maybe your gauge is almost, but not quite 8 stitches per inch so you say, Fudge it, that’s about right. If your gauge is really 7 3/4 stitches per inch, your 64 stitches will make your sock 8 1/4 inches around. Just a tad looser. No biggie, right?
Now let’s say your sweater pattern wants a gauge of 5 stitches per inch on 210 stitches for the 42 inches you need around your chest. If your gauge is almost, but not quite right so you say, Oh fudge, that’s good enough, what happens? Say your real gauge is 5 1/2 stitches per inch. What size sweater will you get with your 210 stitches? It’ll measure a tad over 38 inches. With this gauge, the classy sweater you hope will impress your fiance’s parents goes from lady-like to boob-hugging. Oops. That’s unforgiving fudge.
Beneficial fudge–a bit like the delicious kind that lifts your mood.
Knits can be very accommodating as they stretch and adjust around your body. You can block them larger or smaller. Maybe you can shrink your sock a bit or block out your sweater to 42 inches and save your modesty. I hope you can’t see your bra shining through the stitches. There’s a limit to the beneficial forgiveness sometimes. Just saying. If you can’t stand to swatch, see how to gauge knitting from making a sleeve or hat. Elizabeth Zimmermann would understand.