Gauge and Denier

45 needles per 1½ inch

Above: 45 needles
per 1½ in.

51 needles per 1½ inch

Above: 51 needles
per1½ in.

 The gauge of a stocking depends entirely on the number of needles on which the fabric is knitted. The gauge number, for example, 45, 51 or 60 is the number of needles in every 1½" of the needle bar.

This peculiar method of measuring is from old-time stocking machines in which pairs or needles were set in lumps of lead and the gauge number represented the number of of leads for each 3" needle bar. It is now many years since needles were mounted in this fashion on fine gauge machines and it can be readily seen that the same calculation for single needles will give one the number in each 1½" of needle bar.

It can quite easily be seen from this that the gauge of the stocking is merely an indication of the closeness and frequency of the stitches or loops in the fabric in which it is made. This, by itself, is no indication of the weight or sheerness of the stocking.

The other important fact that has to be considered is that of denier. Denier is an ancient Italian weight which has come down to modern stocking manufacturers from a relic of the days when Italy was supreme in Europe for silk manufacture.

The denier number of the yarn is the number of grams that 450 metres or 492.12 yards of the yarn will weigh. The denier is now regarded as being equal to one twentieth of a gram. For example 30 denier yarn weighs 1½ grams per 450 metres. The denier system of denoting yarn thickness is applied to continuous filament yarns such as Pure Silk, Rayon and Nylon. Lisle and mercerised yarns are measured in count and a count is the numbers of 840-yard hanks to the pound. Thus the higher the count number, the finer the yarn.