The first measuring tools and gauge systems documented for indicating the sizes of knitting needles and crochet hooks were developed by the wire drawing industry. This was an obvious means for labeling craft implements made from wire, but separate numbering schemes also began to appear for hooks and needles made from other materials. Larger diameters were also indicated by direct reference to ordinary measuring scales.
In a presentation of a gauge of her own devising, in 1843, Frances Lambert says:
“Knitting needles, which exceed the size of No. 1 [8 mm], can readily be measured by an inch rule.”
Swedish instructions for Tunisian crochet from 1856 state that:
“This work requires a bone crochet needle, 12 millimeters thick.”
Instructions for a foot warmer in the 23 February 1861 issue of Der Bazar, prescribe it to be:
“…knitted with two long wooden needles the size of 2 centimeters in circumference [⌀ 6.4 mm]…”
The explicit mention of circumference makes it unclear if the 1843 and 1856 texts also refer to that dimension, or if they mean diameter. Another interesting question is how precise this general form of measurement can be. Holding a needle against a ruler is a straightforward way to measure its diameter but results can easily vary from person to person. The same applies to measuring its circumference, say, by wrapping a length of thread around the needle and then measuring the length of that thread.
The optical comparison of a needle to a ruler has the advantages of simplicity and directly measuring diameter, rather than requiring its calculation (if needed) from circumference. The typical workbasket contains both a tape measure and thread, supporting either measuring technique without additional need for a gauging tool. And then there is the converse of the previous question — how accurate do such measurements need to be? Continue reading “Gauging wooden crochet hooks and knitting needles”