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