How to Get a Measurement on Open Knits

Knitting fine yarn on larger needles will result in an open and drapey fabric. The stretchy, lacy texture is perfect for breezy summer tops and gauzy wraps - but it can also be difficult to know how to measure this fabric. Depending on how your knitting is stretched, you can come up with wildly different length and width measurements. This can result in a finished garment that is too tight, too short, or otherwise not quite what you wanted. Luckily, Julie has a few pro tips for getting an accurate measurement.

Here she's showing you how to measure gauge on a knit swatch, though these tricks can be used for a work-in-progress as well. The yarn shown in this tutorial is Habu Textiles n-100 Wide Cotton Gima.



Measure a Set Number of Stitches

Since the loose fabric makes counting individual stitches across a particular measurement tricky, it's easier instead to measure the width of a particular number of stitches.

For example, if your pattern calls for a gauge of 12 stitches over 4" (10 cm), cast on 18 stitches total: 3 stitches on each side for a garter border, and 12 stitches in the center for easy measurement.


Block It, But Don't Pin It

As we recommend for all swatches, be sure to wash or block your swatch the same way you plan to treat your finished garment. But for open knits, don't pin them while air drying. This might prevent the swatch from "doing its own thing," settling into the gauge that is natural for the fabric.


Don't Force It

This might be self-explanatory - but don't stretch your knit piece to force it into the measurement you want!


Shake It, Shake It!

The easiest and most fun way (we think) to get your open knit to relax into its natural gauge is to wiggle it, flop it, shake it around! (Gently, of course.) Then lay it flat on your measuring surface and gently straighten the edges.


To Measure Row Gauge, First Get Stitch Gauge

Be sure your open knit is resting at your established stitch gauge before measuring row gauge. This is a quick and simple way to ensure that your row gauge is measured correctly.


Count the Holes, Not the V's

Since the naturally uneven tension of open knit fabric can make it difficult to identify the "V" of a stitch, we recommend counting the "holes" (AKA, the space within each V) instead. It helps to use a pointy tool to count each hole, such as a DPN or pencil.


If Needed, Modify the Pattern Gauge

Julie recommends knitting to a gauge that results in a fabric that you like, as opposed to forcing your knits to meet the called-for pattern gauge. If your resulting swatch gauge doesn't match the pattern's gauge...that's fine! There’s a simple trick to adjusting the pattern gauge to get the garment size you want. Learn more in our tutorial How to Modify Gauge.

Patterns with an Open Knit Fabric


Emma (Version B)

Our flagship Cocoknits Method pattern, Emma (Version B) is a simple stockinette sweater with a boatneck and subtle waist shaping. Though the pattern calls for bulky weight wool, knitting it short sleeved with a fine yarn like this Habu Textiles a-188 Linen Cotton Paper transforms it into a airy summer tee.

Emma (Version B) Pattern Page

Pattern included in our book, Cocoknits Sweater Workshop



This slouchy top uses a modifed Cocoknits Method to create a relaxed drop-shoulder style. Knit with Habu Textiles n-100 Wide Cotton Gima, it's a twist on the classic cotton V-neck tee!

Tilda Pattern Page

Pattern included in our book, Cocoknits Sweater Workshop



Not quite Cocoknits Method but with a similar construction, Lulu is a top-down, seamless knit with set-in sleeves and English tailored shoulders. The hip increases and tunic length give it a lovely feminine silhouette. Knit it extra long for a drapey dress!

This red version was knit with Shibui Twig, which has been discontinued.

Lulu Pattern Page



A study in contrasts, Gisela has an airy open fabric with sturdy architectural shaping. Knit in Habu Textiles A-174 Cotton Gima it's a gauzy tailored jacket that works just as well over a sundress as it does over business-casual. Knit it knee-length to create a dramatic yet delicate duster!

Gisela Pattern Page



Gretel is a seamless A-line tank with a flattering cowl neck. It's quick, versatile, and requires little yardage to knit. For the medium size, Gretel used just 2 skeins of Habu a-174 Cotton Gima.



Knit in 4 rectangular panels, Helena is a boxy oversized top that you can wear over just about anything. A perfect choice for beginners, the pattern contains directions for knitting it with circular or straight needles and at different gauges. This one was knit with Habu Textiles a-188 that was dipped in indigo by A Verb For Keeping Warm.

Helena Pattern Page



Leonie is a relaxed drop-shoulder tee with a rounded neckline that knits up quickly. With slightly thicker Habu Textiles n-98 Wide Linen Tape, the fabric is still breezy with plenty of drape.

Leonie Pattern Page



Madeleine is typically knit with stripes in DK-worsted weight yarn - but when knit with a single color of Isager Silk Mohair, our French-inspired cardi transforms into a delicate gossamer covering.

Madeleine Pattern Page

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published