A handy little guide to knitting needle sizes, including US, European and Japanese needle sizing charts.
Looking for a chart to help you convert metric sizes to US needle sizes? Or are you wondering why needle size matters and what is the best needle size for beginners? Then this page has all the answers for you.But first the most important thing: the knitting needle size chart.
|Metric size||US size||UK size / Imperial|
Well, how many sizes of knitting needles are there? As you can see,there are a total of 27 different sizeswidespread nowadays. But you may also see in this conversion table that some are not popular in certain countries. For example, European size 3mm knitting needles convert to US size 2.5. However, this is a fractional size that has only been added by a select few manufacturers in recent years. Traditionally, most socks in America are knit in size 3. This corresponds to 3.25 mm needles in the metric system.
Therefore, this diagram is only an approximation in some parts. Still, you can easily see that a 4mm knitting needle can be converted to a US size 6. And knitting needles sold as 5mm in Europe can be found across the Atlantic as size 8.
Knitting needle sizes explained
Now you may be wondering about the difference between knitting needle sizes? Why are there so many andwhat size should you take? What is the difference? Well, depending on the yarn count, you will need a different needle with a different diameter to create a beautiful fabric! This can be an incredibly complicated topic or super simple. So let's go through the details step by step.
Theyarn labelmost commercially produced yarns should give you a range of sizes. It must be noted that these types of recommendations are only a first step. The right needle size for you essentially depends on two factors:
- Your personal tension:Are you a tight or loose knitter? Your knitting style and even the needle material (wood or metal) will have a big impact on your stitch size.
- The knitting pattern:Typically, you knit lace patterns with relatively large needles to create a lacy look.rib stitcheson the other hand, benefits from the use of relatively small knitting needles.
Over and beyond,different materials(e.g. wool,alpaca, or cotton)are also an important factor. Some of these can drastically change their appearance after the first wash.
So your first step should always be, I repeat, alwaysKnit gaugeto confirm that you are knitting a satisfactory fabric according to your thoughts or the requirements of your pattern.
what knitting needle size for beginners
As a beginnerNeedle size 8 to 9 (5 - 5.5mm) and worsted weight is an excellent starting point.Smaller needles make it difficult to see the individual stitches and quite fiddly to knit. The same goes for needles that are too big. While they entice beginners with the allure of being able to finish faster, they're usually quite unwieldy, heavy, and will force you to learn awkward moves - especially if you have smaller hands.
Think of it as learning how to paint. You don't want to do it with a brush barely thicker than two hairs put together. At the same time, you also don't want to use one that requires two hands to hold, right? Now I have a complete guide for thatBest knitting needle for beginnershere on my blog which covers other important aspects you might want to check out.
needle size rRecommendation for other yarn sizes:
|yarn weight #||common names||needle size|
|Tip #0||Lace, spider web, thread, light fingering||00-1|
|Superfine #1||Baby Fingering Sock||1-3|
|Gut #2||honey, sports||3-5|
|Light #3||DK, light, worsted||5-7|
|Means #4||Afghan, Aran, Worsted||7-9|
|Bulky #5||Bulky, chunky, craft, carpet||9-11|
|Supersperrig #6||Super bulky, roving||11+|
|Nervous #7||Jumbo, Roving||17+|
Please understand again that these are only general recommendations. Two different companies could name their yarnDK weightbut that doesn't mean that both should be knitted on size 6 needles for best results.
Does the knitting needle length matter?
A pattern usually gives you only one size, also known as the diameter of the needle. The rest is up to your own preferences.Your knitting needles must be long enough to pick up all the stitcheswithout being squeezed so tightly that they fall off when relaxed.
If you are using single point or knitdouble-pointed knitting needles, that's pretty important. For glove fingers you may only need 10 cm (4 inches) needles, while most knitters prefer 15 cm (6 inches) for socks, and for a hat knitted in the round you may need 20 cm (8 inches). Space for all stitches.
ForThe circular knitting needle,the distinction is mainly a matter of preference.The longer the body of the needle, the more you can use the needles as leverage, but the heavier they are. And of course, if you're knitting in the round, the stiff length of the needle itself will define the minimum diameter you can knit comfortably with it - unless you're using themMagic-Loop-Technik(For example, you can't knit a 10" circle with needles that are 4" long each).
How are knitting needles measured - a short history
Explaining US knitting needle sizes is a complicated subject, and we need to dig a little into history: With the popularization of knitting in Britain in the 18th century and industrialization came the shift from hand-made tools to mass-produced steel needles. Needles were also often referred to as wires, since most DPNs at the time were actually made of durable steel wire. And so they were measured in accordance withDieStandard wire gauge(SWG).
If you look at Miss Lamberts"My knitting book” from 1845 see their marketing a “standard industry' which bears a close resemblance to the gauges of wire then used in British industry and follows the same systemisation. Other authors such as Hope, Mee and Gaugain also promoted their own needle sizes. AndThis explains why the smallest knitting needles are the most common in Britain.
(Side note:The SWG was not introduced until 1884. Before that it was the Birmingham Wire Gauge; keep this in mind when following historical patterns).
Of course that doesn't explain itthe conundrum of US needle gauges. Why don't they follow the imperial system?To be perfectly honest, no one really knows! The fact is, however, that from around 1900 US manufacturers began to sell their own needle sizes - without any system. Or rather, actual sizes followed the imperial system (more or less), but numbers increased, much like the metric system popular in mainland Europe.
In view of the many immigrants (but also the increasing economic power) from Germany,this mix cannot be considered too surprisingfrom a certain point of view - especially since it feels a bit more intuitive that a larger number represents a larger quantity. It would be very limiting to assume that the US only imported haberdashery from Britain. After all, companies likeadditivehave been selling fine knitting needles since 1829!
Of course, new materials (like celluloid) could also explain the move away from SWG (since they required different machinery and thus resulted in different sized needles). It must also be remembered that around 1910 neither commercial flights across the Atlantic nor telephone calls were possible. Unlike today, knitters around the world were much less internationally connected and the world moved much more slowly and still a bit isolated.
In addition, in the 1890s the USA made the transition from being an importer of goods to being an exporter. Given this newly won economic independenceUS yarn manufacturers may have decided to develop their own systematization, just as they made up their own names for yarn weights (finger weightis a good example). This may sound strange, but it really is quite a standard marketing ploy to create customer loyalty.
Think of how Apple has foisted unique chargers and cables on its customers for two decades. Miss Lambert probably called her needle gauge "standard industry' for very similar reasons - distinction. As is well known, the Singer Corporation rang the bell with their sewing machines (Those) with a success that would dominate the industry for the next century.
Susan Websterconcludes in a remarkable contributionthat "then, somehow, magically, around the time of World War II, needle and measuring markers combined around the 'Standard American' size". She argues that this may be a consequence of wartime restrictions. Decades of confusion among knitters may have increased this demand.
Today I see an increasing conversion to the metric system by US pattern designers for similar reasons. With the imperial and US knitting needle sizing systems still coexisting, recommending size 6 needles can be very confusing as knitters from both sides of the pond are likely to buy a specific pattern.
Important:If you are following a historical knitting pattern from the USA, be sure to research the needle size. Size 10 could be anything without context.