top of page

Knit a better sweater with these sewists tools

It's time to start stealing

Sewists get the best stuff. This week, we're stealing from them.

Do swatches lie?

These two rulers are my most used knitting notions, and you'll find them both in the quilting section in your local sewing store.

One is a small quilt ruler with 1/16" markings. The other is a quilting cutting ruler.

Use the small ruler to measure gauge

When you measure gauge, measure the largest area on your swatch that you can. Don’t measure any stitches that are distorted by your edges, but measure every other stitch you can. Measure whole stitches, to the nearest 1/16th of an inch. Divide the stitches by the length, and then multiply that by 4 to get your gauge over 4”. Do the same for rows. Working in cm? Measure to the nearest mm, and multiply by 10 instead.

A handknit swatch in cable pattern with a small quilting ruler.
Bonus tip you didn't ask for: get a tidy bind off like this when cabling by working decreases as you bind off. Look ma, no ruffles!

Tip: Make a swatch that is at least 5” square, block your swatch before measuring, measure only whole stitches, block your finished garment to the schematic measurements, and you will never have another gauge swatch lie to you.

Block better with a quilting ruler

While your finished knitting soaks, use pins and this ruler to block out all the corners of your garment. Lift the knitting out of the water, bunch it up on a towel, roll it up and step on it, repeating until the water is out. At no point should any part of the knitting be allowed to dangle or stretch with the weight of the water.