Most knitting patterns will have clear instructions on what materials are needed to complete the project. The designer will suggest a suitable yarn weight as well as needles in the correct size to help you get the best result. No-one wants a sweater that doesn’t fit!
However in this increasingly online world, we often use patterns from other countries. And suddenly the needle sizes given don’t make any sense at all. Instead of seeing 5mm as you would in a British pattern, you may find US size 6 instead.
Unfortunately you can’t just substitute or guess the equivalent needle size. If you needle doesn’t match that of the pattern, your stitches may be larger or smaller than what they should be and you end up with a finished item that may not fit. So ensuring that you have the right needle that the pattern calls for is very important.
So what to do if the pattern lists a needle that you are not familiar with? You use a conversion chart! There are many charts on the net and a simple google search reveals a list of options. Most charts will list two options - UK and US. UK needles are usually expressed in terms of millimeter or mm and US needles are given as US size 6. So to find the correct needle, simply find the one listed in the pattern, let’s say a US size 6, slide your finger across to find the corresponding UK needle, in this case 5mm.
Another handy tool to check needle sizes, is a needle sizer. Needle sizers are a small plastic or metal card with little holes, numbered to correspond to knitting needle sizes. In the same fashion, some list both US and UK sizes above the hole. So to find the correct size, just find the needle called for in the pattern and see the corresponding size.
In the same fashion, crochet hooks also differ from country to country and conversions charts will list UK, US and Japanese hook sizes.
Needle or hook sizes are not the only thing that can differ from country to country. In crochet, when a pattern calls for a double crochet or dc, this can mean different things in different countries. Stay tuned for more on this next month!