Seasoned knitter? I'm not sure I am but...it depends. I don't often try to match gauge on a pattern, I find the needles and yarn that produce the fabric I like and adjust the item I'm making to work with my gauge. I can follow a pattern. I recently did and worked with yarn and needles until I made gauge. Most of my knitting doesn't have to be to exact measurements. I also use whatever yarn I have or like and can't say I've ever used the yarn that the pattern recommends. If you're making a fitted garment, gauge is extremely important. If you're making a blanket, close enough would typically be good enough.
Cheating is an option. . . . Cheaters never win and winners never cheat, but smart knitters who want to retain an iota of sanity do, cheerfully. ~~Kory Stamper