More observations on little things that make a difference.

This time it’s plain old needle gauges. Why would I need a needle gauge when every needle has its size printed on the side? Well, some needles do and some don’t. Most of my double pointed needles aren’t marked. While many of my circular needles ARE marked, the labels are teeny, difficult to read, and in some cases, pretty much illegible.

I also have a collection of needles accumulated by regular retail purchase, from yard sales, and that have been given to me by friends and relatives. Not all of them are labeled with accurate sizes (the needles, not the friends or relatives). The older needles in particular can vary quite a bit from their imprints. I’ve got 7s,big 7s, and little 7s. All are labeled 7, but some are spot on to the modern definition of 7 as 4.5mm, and some are closer to modern 6s(4mm), and some are closer to modern 8s (5mm). I find the differences useful, as sometimes to get perfect gauge I can slide over to one of my in-between needles instead of going down a full modern size. Sometimes the difference isn’t readily perceptible if I’m grabbing needles and just moving along, but using a small 7 DPNs to start off a cuff but following that up by a large 7 circular when the project’s circumference warrants can lead to all sorts of mismatched gauge problems. But in order toeither take advantage of minute gauge differences or avoid them, I need to know how my needles stack up against a set of standardized sizes. That’s where a needle gauge comes in, and why anyone who has accumulated more than a few pairs of DPNs or needles of specious size should consider buying one.

Here’s the most common needle size gauge.The Susan Bates KnitCheckis about 5.5 inches x 3 inches,made from aluminium, and in the US is sold just about everywhere that sells yarn. The little two-inch L-shapedslit for measuring stitch and row gauge is very handy.The KnitCheck isalso very inexpensive:

And here are both sides of my favorite one. One side lists the metric sizes, and the other shows the US and the old BWG (British Wire Gauge) sizes. It’s plastic, is about 2.5 x 3.5 inches and is slighty more expensive, but still only a couple of bucks:

Why do I prefer the European gauge from Inox? Because it’s more accurate and more complete. The Bates gauge rates their own needles, and is US-centric. There isn’t as much difference among different companies’gaugestoday as there was in gauges of10 or more years ago, but some small differences still exist. For example, Bates US #6s measure 4.25mm. Other companies’ #6s measure 4mm.

Bates gauges also skip all the interstitial metric sizes that have no corresponding US size.Those extra holes on the Inox aregreatfor measuring my in-between vintange needles and European-origin needles that don’t exist in the modern US scheme of things.For example 2.5mm is between a US #1 and US #2 (2.25 and 2.75mm respectively). The Inox gauge can parse it correctly, but the Bates gauge can’t. The Inox gauge is also smaller, and fits in the box I keep my DPNs. Of course since most of you probably aren’tusing a Glenfiddich Scotch Whiskey box like I do as prime needle storage, this may not be as much of an consideration. Of course ,the Inox model doesn’t have that stitch/row gauge measurement slit or a nifty little ruler down one edge, but I carry a measuring tape in my knitting gadget bag, soneither absence is a big loss.

My only wish is that both of these needlesizers went down smaller than US #0/2mm. I’ve got a stack of DPNs ranging down to 000000 (.75mm) and a gauge that went down that small would be very helpful (of course Bates needles don’t come that small, so they really have no motivation to do so, but Inox needles do). I know there are a couple of brass gauges available on the Web for around $15 US that go down to 0000, but that seems rather pricey. I keep hoping I’ll find a metric wire gauge in a hardware store that’s a bit more reasonable.

While I’m at it, here are some other pix of needle gauges that I found while web-wandering today. The first two are available mostly in Canada and the UK. The Braille gauge is from anAustralian site that specializes in tools for the visually impaired. And the brass sheep gaugeappears to be a specialty product in limited circulation(Google searching for "knitting needle gauge" sheep should turn up the source).



A Braille
needle gauge

Brass gauge that
goes down to 0000</td

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