I have been machine knitting for 38 years and I am often asked whether something I am selling is suitable for a particular knitting machine. Suitability is usually governed by the gauge of the machine which is commonly described by words such as Fine, Standard, DK or Chunky. These names reflect the thickness of the most suitable yarn and the knitting produced by a machine.
Here are descriptions of the gauges found on machines still available today and the coned yarns they will knit. The less the number of needles the bigger the hook size of the needle - another reason why items are not interchangeable.
Fine gauge - domestic 3.6mm ( industrial 7 gauge ).
The 3.6mm gauge machines have the thinnest needles with the smallest size of hooks. Approximately 250 needles in a bed. You can knit 1 ply, 2 ply, 3 ply, ( USA = Fingering Weight ) and some 4 ply ( USA = Sock/Sweater Weight ). Silver Reed, Knitmaster, Brother have manufactured these machines.
Standard gauge - domestic 4.5mm ( industial 5.6 gauge ).
This is the most popular and most manufactured of knitting machines. Usually have 200 needles though some of the early Knitmasters have less. More patterns and punchcards and accessories are produced by designers and yarn manufacturers than for all the others. The following labels have all appeared on standard knitting machines. Brother, Silver Reed, Knitmaster, Empisal, Toyota, Singer ( in some countries ) Studio, Creative, Artisan, Knitking, White, and Swissknitter.
The 4.5mm gauge will knit 2 ply, and 3 ply ( USA = Fingering Weight ), and 4 ply (USA = Sock/Sweater Weight ) , and some double knitting ( USA = Sport Weight ) 4 ply yarn is the most popular yarn put on cone. At tension 5-7 it will produce approx 7stitches and 10 rows to 2.5 cms ( 1 inch) .
Double knitting gauge - domestic 6.5mm ( industrial 3.9 guage)
This machine has approximately 150 needles in the bed. Made in a metal bed and a plastic bed version. You can knit 4 ply (USA = Sock/Sweater Weight )and 5 ply, double knitting ( USA = Sport Weight ) and some aran and mohair . Silver Reed, Knitmaster and Brother have produced these.
Chunky gauge - domestic 9.0mm ( industrial 2.8 gauge ).
Usually 110 needles. These machines have bigger needles with bigger hooks and can knit the thicker yarns. Aran, Chunky and Mohair. ( USA = Worsted Weight 4 ply produces approx 5sts and 7 rows to 10cms or 4 inches ) Or you can can combine different thicknesses types of yarn to make up to the thickness you want and your machine will accept.
Then there are the gauges in between-
MOST IMPORTANT - domestic 5.0mm Passap and Pfaff. Knitmaster, Empisal Studio and Singer also manufactured some with this gauge.
6.0mm produced by Knitmaster Empisal.
8.0mm made by Bond, Studio, Knitmaster and Empisal.
Thank you for reading this. I hope you found it useful. I am happy to help with any queries.
Kind Regards Winifred Sheath
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