Is this you?
You have yarn. Say, for the sake of the argument, amazing yarn. You have a pattern. Which your amazing yarn is perfect for. You've even swatched! Unbelievably, the pattern looks *better* in this yarn than you thought it would. The fabric has a marvelous texture. The stars are aligned, you win at knitting, you have EVERYTHING.
… Except gauge.
Is this you? It's totally me, at least once year. And I am here to tell you: all is not lost! With a little creativity, we'll be just fine. All we have to do is change the number of repeats.
If you're thinking to yourself that this is a total n00b tip, you'd be right except for one thing: I'm suggesting we change the number of repeats by a non-integer amount.
Let me give you a few examples:
This hat appears at first to be totally integral. It's got a 6-stitch repeat and 126 stitches around the brim. Ah, but 126/6=21. And 21 is problematic from the point of view of decreasing: 21=3*7 and neither 3 nor 7 is 4 or 5. And to keep the decreases "in pattern", I would really like the crown of this hat to consist of 4 or 5 triangles like this coming together:
So, what did I do? Well, 21 is reasonable close to 20. So I grouped my stitches into five groups: 24, 24, 24, 24 and 30. For the first four groups, I worked the decreases as shown; for the last group, I worked the same decreases at the edges and had an extra column of pattern (ie 6 more stitches) in the middle. I ended up with 4, 4, 4, 4, and 10 stitches. At which point I worked 13 k2togs, then threaded the end of the yarn through the remaining 13 stitches, and called it a day.
Can I start by saying how much I love this pattern? It reminds me (in the best possible way) of funky old wallpaper. But because the fundamental unit of the design is so large, it has a lot less room for fudge; at my gauge, three repeats was going to be positively pinheaded and four was going to be huuge. So, I knit three and a half repeats.
There's one insight that makes this trick work, and that is to switch the way you think about the fundamental unit. It's not a rectangle with a triangle on top; it's a rectangle with a triangle cut out of the top.
If you do an integer number of repeats, it doesn't matter which way you think about the fundamental units. But, if you do a non-integer number of repeats, your non-integral repeat needs to be a skinny rectangle missing a small triangle instead of a skinny rectangle with a small triangle on top:
See the difference? The first one is going to fit great, because the crown decreasing starts off at 6 decreases/round, and changes to 8 decreases/round close to the end. The second one will do the opposite (start at 8 decreases/round, then switch to 6 decreases/round). I guess you might do this if you wanted to knit a hat which had a dedicated pony tail cozy, but for the rest of us, the first one is going to fit better.