Design and Knit a Skirt From a Style in Your Closet – Step 3: Converting Gauge to Stitches and Rows

Step 3: Converting Gauge to Stitches and Rows

You’ve completed a schematic and a swatch; now it’s time to measure the gauge to figure out the number of stitches to cast on and rows to knit. When knitting a skirt from hem to waist or waist to hem, the fabric width is represented by the stitches running horizontally across a row. Length is represented by the rows running vertically along the fabric. The schematic gives the measurements of the pieces, or how many inches horizontally and vertically for each piece. The gauge is used to calculate the number of stitches and number of rows that are required to make those inches of fabric. Now is the time to measure your swatch and calculate the gauge.

Measurements of my swatch

My swatch was made by casting on 42 stitches and working 41 rows in stockinette stitch. I also added a Picot ridge hem at the top and bottom edges of the swatch.

  • Total width of swatch = 6.25 inches
  • Total length of swatch = 4.5 inches (measured between the hems)

Calculation of gauge

  • Stitch gauge: 42 stitches ÷ 6.25 inches = 6.72 stitches/inch
  • Row gauge: 41 rows ÷ 4.5 inches = 9.11 rows/inch

Converting gauge to stitches and rows

Using your schematic, multiply the stitch and row gauge by the measurements. Note: Whether you’re using the imperial (inches) or metric (centimeters) system, the calculation is the same; the metric will be so many stitches/cm. Make sure to only use one system throughout the project.

My schematic with stitch and row numbers

My skirt is knit in stockinette stitch, so the stitch and row numbers is a simple calculation. When knitting pattern stitches that are based on “multiples” or repeating numbers of stitches and rows, the stitch and row numbers have to be adjusted so they are evenly balanced across the width and length of the fabric.

Stitch Numbers:

  • Bottom edge: 30in x 6.72(stitches/inch) = 202 stitches
  • Hip: 22in x 6.72 = 148 stitches
  • Waist: 16in x 6.72 = 108 stitches

I have to decrease at regular intervals along the sides to reach the correct hip and waist stitch numbers. In Step 4, I’ll discuss shaping my skirt.

Row Counts:

  • Hem to hip: 20.5in x 9.11(rows/inch) = 186 rows
  • Hip to beginning of waist hem: 7.5 x 9.11 = 68 rows
Schematic with stitch and row numbers

Calculating yarn amounts

Planning yarn amounts is only an estimate of how much yarn you’ll need. Err on the side of caution, and purchase a few extra balls. You may have to modify your design if you don’t have enough yarn. Refer to How much yarn to I need for my project? for information on calculating yarn requirements.

I have five balls of Noro Kureyon in my stash, at a generous 420 metres/ball. I have enough yarn to make a simple stockinette stitch skirt. From working with this type of yarn, and making similar projects, I’ll have a sufficient amount of yarn.

After converting your gauge to stitch and row numbers, you can begin knitting. In Step 4, I’ll give more helpful information, including shaping a skirt.

Resources: The Why and How of Test Swatching