# Mystery Needles: Determining the Size of Unmarked Needles

Take a peek through your knitting needles and you'll probably notice that some of them — usually circular needles and double-pointed needles — are not marked with a size. (Ugh.) Don't panic! If you have mystery needles in your supplies, all you need is a knitting needle gauge to figure out what sizes they are.

## What is a knitting needle gauge?

Knitting needle gauges are flat knitting notions with holes in varying sizes. The holes correspond with the size of different needles, so you can use the holes to measure the size of a knitting needle.

Needle gauges are often paired with a knitting gauge ruler, which are short rulers that are great for .

Think of that knitting needle gauge and ruler as your go-to tool for starting a project. Here's a closer look at how to use it.

### Here's what you'll find on most knitting needle gauges:

• Needle gauge: The needle gauge is the little holes that run down the center. (See the   above as an example). Each hole should be labeled with numbers that correspond with needle sizes.
• Ruler in inches: The gauge ruler pictured above goes up to 5", but you might also see gauge rulers that are anywhere from 4"-6".
• Ruler in centimeters: If you're a fan of the metric system, most gauge rulers have you covered. This is also handy if you're working from a pattern that doesn't use inches as the standard measurements.
• Window: Some gauge rulers (like the one shown below) also have an L-shaped or square window to help you more easily isolate your stitches and count the stitches and rows per inch. This isn't standard to all gauge rulers, though.

## How to use a knitting needle gauge

### Using the needle gauge

Grab that mystery needle and start poking it through the holes in the gauge to discover what size it is. You might have a good idea of the size, so start with a guess. For example, if I have a really large needle, my first guess is that it might fit into the US size 15 hole.

If the needle won't slide through the hole at all, then try the next size up. If the needle fits through the hole with lots of room to spare, then try the next size down. You want the knitting needle to be able to slide through the hole without lots of extra space.

Take a look at my needle here:

I think this needle might be around a size 6, but I'm not sure. When I try to slide it through the size 6 hole, it seems to go through quite easily with some space to spare. See how there's quite a bit of space around it? So for this one, I'd probably want to go down one more size.

When I put it through the size 5 hole, it still slides through the hole, but there's practically no room to spare between the needle and the hole. So I know this is a size 5 needle.

If you're not confident you have the right size, you can always go down one more size to double check it. If the needle won't even fit into the hole, then you know the next size up was correct.

Here, for example, I was pretty sure the needle fit into the size 5 hole. When I tried the size 4 hole, I couldn't even get the needle to go in past the needle tip, so I know that the size 5 was correct.

There are so many different knitting needle companies, so you might find that not all US size 8s, for example, fit into the hole the same way. That's normal!

### Using the gauge rulers

Knitting needle gauge rulers are great for measuring your gauge swatch, since gauge is usually measured at 4" (10 cm). The rulers are also useful for measuring smaller things like ribbed edges.

I also love needle gauges that have a little L-shaped or square window to measure the gauge. That makes it so much easier to count stitches and get an accurate gauge measurement. It's a lot easier on the eyes, too! The ruler pictured above has a 2" window, but ideally you'll want at least a 4" window so you can get a bigger sample size of your swatch.

I carry a needle gauge ruler with some of my projects for smaller measurements like that and leave the tape measure to my bigger projects like sweaters.

Do you own a knitting needle gauge and ruler? How often do you use it? Tell us how you use your needle gauge and ruler in the comments!

March 03, 2018
More to Explore
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Brioche knitting is unlike any other technique in the knitting world, so you have to go into it with the right tools — and that includes yarn. Because the secret to a good brioche project is a yarn that complements those beautiful, squishy stitches. So before you pick up your needles and start, look for these key characteristics in your yarn.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
With its own set of special stitches, unique charts and working method (each row is worked twice), brioche is the rebel of the knitting world. So for a first-timer, the technique may seem tricky — after all, you have to throw out some of your typical knitting know-how to create the gorgeous texture. But if you keep these beginner-friendly tips in mind, your first attempt at brioche knitting will feel like a breeze.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
If you've seen a brioche knit, you won't forget it. The technique uses its own special set of stitches to create a to-die-for texture that's unlike any other. So if you're looking to learn more about brioche knitting — and need more reasons to give it a try — here are five to get you started.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
If you want your stranded colorwork to be as close to perfect as possible, you have to know how to navigate jogless knitting in the round.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
From seamless hats to fingerless gloves, knitting in the round opens you up to a world full of double-pointed and circular needles. But the technique can get tricky, especially if you're a beginner. Here are a few tips for avoiding common in-the-round frustrations so you don't have to rip out your project.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
There's more to left-handed knitting than moving stitches from your right needle to the left. For lefties, everything's just a little different — even how you wrap the yarn around your needles. But by mastering these common stitches, you'll be able to cast on and knit even the most complex projects without stumbling (and get a fabric that looks no different from right-handed knits).
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Gifting for men, whether it's Father's Day, Christmas or a birthday, can sometimes feel tricky. But if you're a knitter, it's just another opportunity to pull out your needles and yarn. There are so many knits that make great gifts for men — here are a few worth adding to your to-make list.
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
When it's time to bust that yarn stash, there's nothing better than stitching something cute (and functional!) for your pet. Whether you want to knit your dog a fashionable sweater or whip up a cozy cat bed, they'll love these knits as much as you love making 'em.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
There's an easy way to add some sparkle and shine to any knit project: just add beads. It's totally fun, and these beaded knitting patterns offer plenty of opportunity to play with a little bling-bling while you're making.
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
After I graduated from Cornell University’s apparel design program, where I studied textile design with an emphasis on weaving, I was lucky enough to get a job with a small garment manufacturer in Ithaca, New York. It was there that I met my husband, and later, gave birth to my daughter. Before I knew it, life got really hectic and, as I'm sure many parents can relate, I soon found it difficult to dedicate time to being at my loom.
Laura Nelkin, as told to Claudia Guthrie
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
To turn a piece of knitting into a gorgeous work of art, all you need are beads. You can add beading to any project, whether it's a simple garter stitch scarf or a more intricate lace shawl. So no matter what your skill level, use these tips to dress up your stitches with sparkle.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
With the delicate placement of yarn overs and decreases, there's nothing more beautiful than knit lace. And the number of lace stitches you can knit is only limited by your imagination — and maybe the amount of time you have. Experiment with the stitches below and soon you can start creating your own gorgeous lace project.
Lisa Gutierrez
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Many knitters know the value of connecting with the yarn-thusiast community. But when your knitwear soulmates are spread far and wide, it may not always be possible to form a knitting circle in person. Which is why there's a genius way to bridge the gap: virtual knitting clubs.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Stranded knitting is a style of colorwork that traditionally carries two or more yarns along the back of your knitting. There are a ton of ways to incorporate it into your work — Fair Isle is one most people know best — and it helps bring out a variety of detail and color in a single project. See for yourself in the patterns below, then download and start knitting!
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
You've been warned: Fair Isle knitting — a type of stranded knitting that traditionally uses no more than two colors per row — is straight-up addictive. After all, who could resist all that beautiful detail?! Dig into the technique (and bring on the color) with the below patterns — you can get 'em all totally free!
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Knitting isn't just a hobby, it's a lifestyle! Here's how to know if your life has become hopelessly entangled with yarn.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
When you first begin knitting, reading patterns and charts may be the most challenging aspect. After all, to a novice "K5 yo, k2tog, ssk, knit to end" looks like utter gibberish. But don't stress — keep this guide close and you'll be able to decode even the trickiest line.
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Reach way back to your middle school memories and you might remember learning about pi in math class. Though you may not have become a mathematician, you still use a lot of math when you knit — especially if you're stitching a pi shawl.
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Gift-giving for men can be tricky, whether it's Father's Day, their birthday or Valentine's Day. But knitting them a hat is always a solid choice. Just pay attention to their style preference — some guys are more adventurous, while others prefer a more classic look. Whatever their deal, you're sure to find a pattern worth stitching below. Now grab those circular needles and get going!
Ashley Little
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Pop quiz: old T-shirts are perfect for...
Kathryn Vercillo
• Are you sure to want to remove this?
Lifestyle
Real talk: sometimes crafting can use a lot of materials (that aren't exactly cheap). You can save your bank account some strife and show Mother Earth a lot of love by upcycling what you already have — here's how.
Ashley Little