How to Modify Gauge

In this tutorial, Julie will teach you how to knit with a different gauge than called for in a pattern. She has a super simple trick that specifically works with Cocoknits patterns because each item shrinks proportionally. This will allow you to knit with alternative yarn weights without having to do too much math. All you need to do is knit a different size. Watch the video above or read the instructions below for more details.

Steps to Knitting a Pattern With Different Yarn

Throughout the steps below Julie uses the example of an Emma Version A that her daughter knit with a finer weight yarn. 

Please note that this technique may not work with other knit designer's patterns, this trick specifically works with ours because of the way our patterns are sized. 


Measure Your Gauge With the New Yarn

Julie's daughter knit a swatch with the yarn she wanted to use for the Emma Version A and got a gauge of 4 sts per inch. In the book it recommends 3 sts per inch. 


Go to Schematics & Find the Size You Want

When you determine you have a different gauge, simply go to the schematic section of the pattern and find the bust circumference of the size that you would like. In this example, she wanted to knit a medium which has a bust circumference of 37.5"


Determine How Many Stitches You Need for the Bust

Simply multiply your gauge to the desired circumference. In our example, because her gauge was 4sts per inch and she wanted 37.5" bust circumference we learned she needed 150 sts at the bust with the following equation. 4 (sts per inch) x 37.5 (desired bust circumference) = 150 sts 


Find the Right Size for Your Gauge!

Now simply find the size that has the proper stitch count for your bust. For the Emma pattern this count will be after you've finished your seamless yoke, placed the sleeve stitches on hold, and cast on stitches for the underarm. We can find this count on page 64 of the Cocoknits Sweater Workshop, in the second paragraph down. In this section it is only describing the back stitch count, so it is half of our total sts needed. 150 / 2 = 75. "Next round knit 50 (56, 62, 68, 74)." The 2x is the closest at 74 sts, so in order to knit the sweater in our new gauge we simply knit the size 2x rather than the medium. It's that easy! 


Please note: this won't work with everyone's gauge if it's significantly different than the pattern. For example, if you want to knit the Emma in a lightweight yarn with a tight gauge it may be better to simply work from the Molly pattern which was designed for lighter weight yarn. But if you're just a little off with gauge, this is a very simple fix! 



Hi Alena, Once you have determined the size you will knit, based on the steps in the tutorial, you will cast on for the back neck using the number of stitches for the size you are using the numbers from. In Julie’s example, her daughter used the 2X numbers to get a medium in her gauge. Please feel free to clarify your question (gauge and size would be helpful) and email us at for a more exact answer. Good luck – we think you will love the Cocoknits Method!


I am starting out with this method and exploring what happens if I want to knit in a different weight yarn. The instructions make sense but reference "after you have knit the neck/shoulder piece. My question then is do I knit the gauge swatch, calculate the number of stitcher/inch, find the size I need that then ALSO cast on the adjusted number of stitches for the back neck piece. I know the answer is probably obviously, yes, but I don’t trust myself much yet as a knitter so would appreciate knowing that I am correct – or not correct. And in that case, what is the answer to how many stitches to cast on?

Dorris Mickey

Hello admin, You always provide great examples and case studies.


Hi Patrice, Yes, that is what Julie recommends. Get the yardage for the size you are switching to. In your case, you may also know that you can reduce the yarn somewhat if you are knitting your body and sleeves shorter than the pattern suggests. Good luck with your sweater!

Patrice Kistenmacher

I stumbled across this method myself with my own mental and mathematic gymnastics a few years ago. As time goes on, it became especially helpful when I realized that a designer’s suggested ease doesn’t always look as good on a 5’2" frame as it does on some of the models photographed who are not only fairly tall but tastefully slender as well!

My question is about purchasing yarn for a new project, or determining whether there’s enough yarn on hand in my stash to complete a project. For the sweater in your example, your daughter went to the 2X size to give her the appropriate size with her alternate yarn. Would you then purchase the yardage in the pattern also recommended for the 2X size? Is that a safe extrapolation? Or is there something else you suggest?


Hi ~ I just found what I needed regarding my question about the gauge and yarn weight. I see it is posted on the website under each pattern name.
No need to respond to me. Thanks very much.


Hello. I have taken a class in how to adjust gauge, so modifying gauge and working with a schematic is not completely new to me. However, I only see the gauge and yarn weight suggestion for the Emma sweater. It is so helpful to have a starting point for each of the sweaters and then adjust as needed.
Am I missing something? Are 3 stitches per inch and bulky weight the standard starting point for all of the patterns in the book?
Thanks so much! I’m eager to try Julie’s method. I especially enjoyed seeing her interview on Fruity Knitting.


Hi Dawna,
For the parts of the pattern that specify number of rows rather than inches/cm, note on the schematic what the measurements are, then multiply the measurement by your row gauge to figure out how many rows you will need. In particular, to be sure the armhole is the right size, when you go to fill out the worksheet, use your row gauge to recalculate the number of rows you should have in your yoke and either reduce or expand the number or rows between the various increases. For the sleeve decreases, increase or decrease the number of rows between decreases. Hope that helps! If you need more specific help, feel free to email us at


Any suggestions for what to do about row gauge when you change sizes based on this tutorial ?


Hi Kim, You should be able to use Julie’s technique for modifying gauge to adapt to your yarn gauge. You might have to do a few more calculations if you need the size small measurements, since there isn’t a smaller size, but you can use the schematic to adjust your numbers. Enjoy your sweater!


Hi Julie & team,
I was thinking of using an aran weight yar for Franca, size largish. My guage is 15 st per 4” and 21 rows. Do you think it could work?


Hi Laura, 35" is between the S and M bust sizes, you’ll want to choose between the two based on your body type. The back width for the M is 17.5". Multiply by your gauge of 6 st/in is 105 sts. The back stitch count for a size 3X is 102, so you should be able to use the numbers for the 3X.

Laura Van Matre

I want to knit the Franca in a yarn that gets 6 stitches to the inch. I have a 35 inch bust. I’m having trouble figuring out what size sweater I should knit. I don’t see exactly where on the pattern to look for the number of stitches in each section. The example on the gauge tutorial is for the Emma sweater which has no overlap.

Leave a Comment

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

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published