back to the old knitting frames, where invariably two needles were cast together in a lead. A lead was, therefore, a needle-pair, and the number of leads required to fit into the space of 3'' length decided the number of the gauge. Today, leads are nonexistent, single needles only being used, and the measure is, therefore, reduced by half, the gauge being arrived at by determining the number of needles in the space of 1½".

The needles on the knitting machine which form the loops in the hosiery fabric of a Fully-Fashioned stocking, are attached to bars called “needle bars”. For regular size stockings, this needle bar measurement is 14"; in the U.S.A. and 14½" in England; if outsize hosiery or extra large stockings are made, the needle bar will measure from 15" to 16" across.

A hosiery machine will have up to 32 separate needle bars, one bar for each stocking leg, so that 32 stockings can be knitted at the same time.

The number of needles in the space of 1½" within the needle bar determines the gauge of the stocking. This varies with different types of machines, such variations being found in the space of 1½" on the needle bar. This is known as the gauge of the machine. As each needle forms a stitch (or wale) in the stocking, the number of stitches in 1½" of fabric is the gauge of that fabric. Gauge indicates the number of needles, as every needle on the bar makes one loop in the fabric. The more needles we have, the more stitches, hence the finer the texture of the fabric. This, therefore, forms the foundation of knitted hosiery fabrics.

A machine having 45 needles to every 1½" of needle bar, knits a stocking which is known as 45 Gauge. This gauge is the standard general purpose knit. Likewise, a 48 Gauge stocking is knitted on a machine having 48 needles in the space of 1½", and so on up to 66 Gauge—which is the highest gauge machine made, up to the time of writing.

There is now the combination of gauge and thread—or count of yarn used—for a certain gauge to produce a stocking of certain construction. The finer the stocking, the finer the gauge and stitches, the fewer the threads of silk, the sheerer the hosiery fabric. From this combination of gauge and thread we get the general construction and classification of stockings, also hosiery styles. When one refers to a


according to the number of needles and the count of yarn used in the production of the hose.

Machines having 370 needles in a diameter of 3½" are a good, all-round type, being suitable for nylon or rayon stockings, both of which can be manufactured satisfactorily on this kind of machine. Also, the needle count is suitable for the production of high-tenacity rayon hose.

The majority of Circular Knitting machines are of British or American manufacture. The Gauge is calculated on the number of tricks per circumferential inch in the needle cylinder. Each cylinder trick holds a latch needle—or, if a Spring-needle machine, a beard needle.

The rule for finding the needles per inch is:-

Needle Count, divided by diameter and 317, e.g. :
Number of needles 400 Diameter 3¾"

Needles per inch 400x 4x7 
 1522 = 34 (approx.)

To compare this Circular Knitting machine with a Fully-Fashioned Straight-Bar Knitting Frame, with its Gauge represented by the number of needles in the space of 1½", multiply the Circular machine needles per inch accordingly (34 needles one inch, giving 51 needles per ½") thereby being equal to a 51 G. Fully-Fashioned Frame. However, stockings made on a machine using spring or bearded needles are more elastic than those made on latch needles, and this factor, too, must be taken into consideration when comparing the needleage of the two types of machines.


The number of stitches is regulated according to the needles which in the machine are necessary to make one and a half inches (1½") in width, and this method of measurement is in all countries expressed by the English word, “Gauge” (or “Gg” for short). The Gauge Number does not give the number of needles per inch, in order to obtain which we must multiply the gauge by two-thirds. For example:-

 Gauge Number39  42  45  48  51  54
Needles per inch26  28  30  32  34  36
To find the reason for this schedule of gauges, it is necessary to go