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Arts and Crafts

Everything You NEVER Wanted to Know About Gauge – Part II

Knitting Mama Bear shares part two of her professional guide on gauge.



This week, Knitting Mama Bear shares part two of her professional guide on gauge.

In the last article, we learned how to make a gauge swatch and why it is important to make one for items that need to be correctly sized. This time, let’s talk about what to do if you discover that your gauge does not match the gauge called for by the pattern. 

Let’s say you took your time knitting a gauge swatch using the same (or substituted) yarn and recommended needle size from the pattern. Here’s a sample gauge note:

Gauge: 35 stitches & 37 rows = 4.5″ over Feather & Fan stitch

Your swatch may not match horizontally, vertically, or both; the horizontal measurement is more important. Once you have changed needle sizes to achieve the correct horizontal gauge, you can plan ahead to adjust vertically.

Here are some scenarios you may encounter:

Scenario 1:

On your swatch, there are 39 stitches horizontally within 4.5 inches. This means your tension is tighter than the designer’s tension. To put it another way, your stitches come out smaller than the designer’s stitches, so that more of yours fit into the 4.5″ space.

To fix this, try knitting the swatch again in the next needle size up. Repeat as needed until you have the right number of stitches inside the right number of inches. 

Scenario 2:

On your swatch, there are 29 stitches within 4.5 inches. This means your tension is looser than the designer’s tension. To put it another way, your stitches are larger than the designer’s, so fewer of them fit into the 4.5-inch space.

To fix this, knit the swatch again in a smaller needle size. Keep trying smaller needles until you have the correct number of stitches inside the 4.5 inches.

Before you look at the next two scenarios, you must fix Scenario 1 & 2 before proceeding to 3 & 4. Once you resolve either of these, you will have the correct number of stitches horizontally. 

Scenario 3:

You have to count 40 rows to get to a height of 4.5 inches but you have the correct number of stitches horizontally. This means your stitches are shorter than the designer’s stitches.

Because you are getting the same number of stitches horizontally, this is easy to resolve. All you need to do is add a row or two to get to the correct length required to achieve the size you’re making. Only repeat rows which do not include increases or decreases to maintain the correct size in terms of width. Repeat the rows in the pattern so it doesn’t become disrupted. The easiest way to do this is to add more rows at the end of the project. Make sure you are measuring the length as you work. 

Scenario 4:

You have only 34 rows in a height of 4.5 stitches but you have the correct number of stitches horizontally. This means your stitches are taller than the designer’s stitches.

Because you have the correct number of stitches horizontally, this is also easy to fix. As you work on the project, don’t work as many rows as the pattern calls for. You should skip only rows that do not include an increase or decrease to maintain the correct measurements in terms of width. Make sure you are measuring your length as you go. Again, the best way to resolve this is to skip ending rows. 

Remember to fix either one or two before resolving three and four! These four fixes should cover all problems with gauge you encounter.

Important Take-Aways

  • Never try to knit tighter or looser to match the pattern gauge. You have a natural tension that will reassert itself.
  • Always make a gauge swatch. Don’t skip this step for patterns that should be appropriately sized. Keep repeating the swatch until you have found the right needle size to yield a matching gauge (you can reuse the yarn again and again until you get it right).
  • Always knit your swatch at least 3 additional stitches and rows wider and taller than the pattern requires. This will improve the accuracy of your measurements.
  • Never measure from the edge; start with a few stitches from the border to avoid distortion. 
  • Always work a border around the swatch. This will prevent edge distortion from throwing off your measurements. I prefer Seed Stitch because it looks the same vertically as horizontally. Bonus: if you don’t want to keep your swatch, you can repurpose it as a washcloth with a very nice border!
  • If your project is worked in the round, make your gauge swatch in the round too. Make it larger than it needs to be, cast off, and cut up the side vertically through a row of stitches so that you can lay flat to measure. Tension in the round is different from tension worked flat. 
  • Always use the recommended stitch pattern for your gauge. If it doesn’t suggest a stitch pattern, assume it’s Stockinette Stitch. 
  • If the pattern calls for the project to be blocked, block your gauge swatch before measuring. 
  • Always adjust your gauge to match the width before trying to adjust for height.
  • Avoid swatching squares smaller than 4 inches. There is no such thing as an even stitch to 1-inch ratio. It is always better to average your tension out over a larger area. 
  • If you are designing your own project and are looking to figure out a gauge so that you can predict the number of stitches you will need throughout, make swatches for each stitch pattern you will use in the project. Stitch patterns are not all the same! Cables pull everything tighter and lace stretches everything larger. 
  • Once you have achieved the correct number of stitches within designated inches, keep your swatch! Attach the yarn label and a note explaining the pattern you were using, the gauge required by that pattern, and the needle size you used on the swatch. Add a photo of the finished work when you’re done. This will come in handy for other projects if they use similar yarn and gauge sizes or if you want to make the same project again. I keep mine in a binder. 

Hopefully this information will help you grow in your skills as knitter or crocheter. If you liked this information, you can find me at where I share more valuable information and free patterns. 

Arts and Crafts

Drawing the Line



A written guide by Handdrawnbear

What is a line?

Lines don’t exist in nature, it is a two-dimensional construct of the mind in an attempt to understand and represent three-dimensionality.

One might be tempted to think of edges as lines, that is how we describe a cube after all, but there are plenty of objects such as a ball, which has no edges, that also must be described by lines.

Lines are statements about where one surface ends and the next surface begins from our point of view. A line is used to define the limit of our perception, when an object or surface goes beyond our view; like the horizon line, it means we can see this much and no further.

How do we use a line?

It’s more a question of where, rather than how. Lines can be used to describe any object, but first, determine your level of magnification. How lines are used will differ whether we’re drawing a forest, a single tree, one branch, or just one solitary leaf.

We are informing the viewer where the edges of our perceptions are for this particular drawing, which will be defined by the level of magnification of the subject.

Drawing a forest means defining the edges and boundaries of the forest, therefore we must not concern ourselves with defining the edges and boundaries of each leaf.

Likewise, drawing a chicken means we can’t be tempted to define each feather; drawing a bear precludes us from focusing on every hair. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Handdrawnbear’s approach to drawing.

I can only speak for myself here, but the approach I take with any drawing is to use the least amount of lines possible, and start with the most important lines. Just as brevity is to wit, economy of lines is to a drawing. No one likes a line-salad of a drawing.

Let me explain. Say we’re drawing a bear, if you could only use one line to describe that bear, what would that line look like? I usually choose the line of the spine from nose to heel, which describes the posture of the animal.

Next, if you could only describe the bear using two lines, which line would you add? I’d put in the head in this instance. And then from there we continue to build the drawing from most important to least important lines, also known as drawing from the general to the specific.

This approach not only helps organize the drawing process, but also ensures that if we’re drawing from life and the subject moves or wanders away, we have put down as much essential information on paper as possible.

These methods have served me well over the years, and I hope you find them helpful, too.


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Arts and Crafts

How to Draw Faces – A Quick Introduction

A written guide and video by Handdrawnbear



A written guide and video by Handdrawnbear

There was a fat little Asian kid who sat alone at every lunch break, furiously scribbling on stacks of scrap paper salvaged from the classroom recycling bins.

This is how I spent my public school days, not a minute was wasted on “learning.” Now, I confidently say that I can draw anyone I lay eyes on. It’s not a boast, quite the contrary, drawing is the only way I can truly understand what anything actually looks like. My husband is often exasperated by how mechanically illiterate I am, I answer him honestly, “Dear, I’ve never drawn a car engine.”

Now you might say, but Handdrawnbear, I’m not as weirdly wired as you, how can I learn to drawn everyone?

Let me first clarify, we are speaking here only of observational drawing, which differs from technical or architectural drawing in function and form.

Drawing is a language, but not a hieroglyphic one. Hieroglyphs are preconceived symbols, clichés if you will. How would you like to read a novel written only in clichés and figures of speech? You wouldn’t like it at all. Even though symbols may be a shortcut to meaning, they are also extremely limiting; if you don’t have a glyph for something, then you can’t describe it.

Instead, when you draw from observation, look at it with the eyes of a blind man who’s just been given his sight. Throw out your preconceived notions of what anything should look like and really see what you’re trying to describe with your drawing.

When drawing someone’s face, really look at them and see what makes it unique from other faces. These three legends below could all be described as “a bearded man”, but they are actually so very different from each other.

Woodshopbear has a very striking countenance, his eyes are farther apart than the average man which gives him a very intense look.

Westsidebear’s soulful eyes are like gems if you can find them in his sheer amount of hair.

BigBear’s cheeks are like tall shields over which his sharp eyes pierce through and sees your browser history.

Everyone has an ideal average face in their mind, but it’s the departure from the average that individualizes each face. There is a danger in exaggerating features however, as you veer further away from reality you may venture into the monstrous. The way to avoid this is love and charity, it may sound funny but it will show through your drawing. I am unable to make someone I despise look good, and I’m probably not alone.

Of course, practice makes perfect, or as close to perfection as we can get this side of the eschaton. So draw everything, draw all the time. Draw from life whenever possible. Don’t be precious about your drawings. Craft comes before art, it’s hard before it’s easy. But whatever you do, never trace a photograph. Tracing is a useless exercise that gives instant gratification but no lasting benefit.

Drawing is observation and adoration combined. Because this realm is full of beauty, drawing is a reply in kind, a dialogue with creation.

Don’t seek accolades, you’ll only find emptiness; instead, give with your craft relentlessly to those you love, and you’ll find tribe and so much kindness and gladness in return. This is the beautiful truth I’ve encountered with the community of Bears.

And that little fat Asian girl? Well, she’s still drawing and learning to see. 

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Arts and Crafts

Beartaria Times Weekly Arts & Crafts Gallery 1/25/21




Greetings Beartarian Artists and crafters, We are starting this year of the blackjack with a powerful new gallery of creatives. The Beartaria Times App is crushing and the artists and crafters are displaying a unique set of creativity and skills. Take a look below at just a fraction of the amazing talent that is submitted through the Beartaria Times App.

Click on the gallery images to view at full proportion.

Handdrawn Bear

Instagram | Twitter

Harmony Bear


Holy Quail Bear




Tina MountainGoat

Instagram | Etsy Store


Instagram | Facebook


I’m continually amazed by the talent and skill that is community has to offer. I hope you continue to crush and seek the good the beautiful and the true. Onward to Beartaria!


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