Different Yarns for Different Knitting Machines.

Learn which knitting machine uses the different sizes of yarns. Chart also includes hand knitting needle sizes, crochet hooks, Yarn Standard's symbols, ply and stitches per inch.

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Before you buy a knitting machine, you should know . . . . . and other technical articles Locate YOUR SilverReed Knitting Machine Dealer


Angelika's Table of Knitting Machines and what size knitting yarns each uses.

This knitting machine table was charted out, designed, tracked and maintained by Angelika
Feel free to print a copy for your use.
Please do not copy for use on your website, commercial or noncommercial
nor for use in any printed materials.
If in doubt, email me.  I'm pretty easy to get along with. 
Angelika's Yarn Store, Angelika Burles

by Angelika Burles with lots of help from Kathleen Kinder
and major education on ply & count from Carole Ingram.

© Angelika's Yarn Store

The most common question I get regarding knitting machines is "I want a knitting machine that will knit . . . ".

It is not about which knitting machine will knit what knitted garments. The question that should be asked is "Which knitting machine will knit the weight of yarn I want to knit?". In hand knitting (and crochet), the knitting needle size and crochet hook size is different for different sizes of yarns. In machine knitting we currently have 3 gauges of knitting machines (basicly). Only 3 knitting machines cover yarns as small as lace weight up to bulky weight yarns.

Knowing the classifications of yarn sizes (yarn standards) that hand knitters use is important, so that we can use these wonderful yarns on our knitting machines. Fingering, sport, DK, and worsted and bulky weight yarns can be used on our knitting machines. But if you use too large a yarn on a knitting machine designed for finer yarns, the knitting machine can be damaged, and for sure your knitting carriage will jam.

Understanding which yarn size range each knitting machine covers is the most important detail to understand, before a knitting machine is purchased.


Lace weight yarn symbolLACEWEIGHT YARNS
2/32 - 2/16 (3/24)

Hand knit needles US 0000-3
2-3.25mm
9 sts or more per inch

TENSION 3-4 on 4.5mm knitting machine (standard bed)

This section is for extremely fine yarns, which are used more often for crochet doilies and very open lacy shawls. 
Machine knitting with one strand might present some difficulties in knitting off the needles. The standard gauge knitting machines should use their fine knit bar.

More commonly used in double bed multi-color fabrics. When knitted in an open & loose fabric, it is a perfect, light & airy fabric for lace curtains and shawls.
Also works well, to use 2 strands, or 3 strands together, or combine with other yarns, and knit at tension type 5 or 7.

YARN:Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace and any yarn classified as lace weight.

See other lace weight yarns on my Yarn Standards Page.

Silver Reed Standard Bed Knitting Machines
SK280 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Punch Card, Knitting Machine
SK840 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Electronic, Knitting Machine


LIGHT FINGERING WEIGHT
2/16 (3/24) - 2/12 (3/18)

Hand knit needles US 1-3
2.25-3.25mm
8-9 sts per inch
16-18 wraps per inch

TENSION 5-6 on 4.5mm knitting machine (standard bed)

A common gauge for dress weight yarns. Perfect for slim fitting slacks & skirts, as well as flaring skirts and suits. If the yarn allows you to tighten down to one tension, this will help to keep slacks and straight skirts from seating out. Return to your regular tension for the shells, tops, jackets & blazers.
These fine yarns are still good for easy 2-color jacquard. Will knit off smoothly and create warm afghans.
A common gauge for light weight jean sweaters. Excellent weight for fairisle sweaters without the added weight that fairisle usually produces. I find this size of yarn laces very nicely.

YARN:Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace and any yarn classified as lace weight.

See other lace weight yarns on my Yarn Standards Page.

Silver Reed Standard Bed Knitting Machines
SK280 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Punch Card, Knitting Machine
SK840 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Electronic, Knitting Machine.


Yarn Standards symbol for Fingering weight yarns #1
FINGERING YARNS
2/12 (3/18) - 2/8 (3/12)

Hand knit needles US 1-3
2.25-3.25mm
7-8 sts or more per inch
14 wraps per inch

TENSION 7-8 on 4.5mm knitting machine (standard bed)

Good for socks, summer sweaters, for babies and lightweight shawls. 2 strands roughly makes a DK weight, 3 strands roughly make worsted weight.
Fingering is such a popular weight. In my opinion, this is the best weight for babies. And makes wonderful summer lace items.
You may find you are knitting this at knitting machine tension 6 or tension 8. "Tension" is not a hard and fast rule. It just gives us a place to start when in doubt.
These are probably the most commonly used weights for the average machine knitter. Tension 7 & 8 are the ranges a lot of new machine knitters are taught in. And for easy, quick garments we continue to return to it.
This weight is popular with men's sweaters & cardigans.

YARNS: Sock weight yarns fit this category perfectly, and I love to knit jean tops out of a quality sock yarn such as Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock or Cascade's Heritage Sock.

See other fingering weight yarns on my Yarn Standards Page.

Silver Reed Standard Bed Knitting Machines
SK280 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Punch Card, Knitting Machine
SK840 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Electronic, Knitting Machine.


Yarn Standards symbol for Fine weight yarns #2
SPORT WEIGHT YARNS

Hand knit needles US 4-5
3.25-3.75mm
6 sts per inch
12 wraps per inch

TENSION 9-10 on 4.5mm knitting machine (standard bed)

TENSION 2-4 on a 6.5 or 7.0 mm knitting machine (mid-gauge bed)

Almost twice as thick as Fingering.
Excellent for all types of sweaters, cardigans & afghans.
Used on the standard bed and sometimes not, because even though the yarn says DK or Sport Weight, we will have variations within that range.
This weight and the following DK weight yarns are great on the mid-gauge knitting machines and make beautiful cabled and hand manipulated designs.

YARNS: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport or Cascade Cherbu DK are just a few examples.

See other sport weight yarns on my Yarn Standards Page.

Silver Reed Standard Bed Knitting Machines
SK280 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Punch Card, Knitting Machine
SK840 4.5mm Standard Gauge, Electronic, Knitting Machine

Silver Reed Mid-Gauge Bed Knitting Machine
LK150 6.5mm Mid-Gauge Knitting Machine


Yarn Standards symbol for Light (DK) weight yarns #3
DK WEIGHT YARNS

Hand knit needles US 5-6
3.75-4mm
5.5-6 sts per inch
11 wraps per inch

TENSION 5-7 on 6.5-7mm (mid-gauge bed knitting machines)

TENSION 0-1 on 9mm (bulky bed knitting machines)

The most popular gauge being hand knit and machine knit today. Can sometimes be classified as a Light Worsted or Heavy DK.
This type of yarn is beautiful in sculptured knits (i.e. cables, bobbles and textures). The Mid-gauge knitting machines were the last gauge of knitting machines manufactured and their design stems from the popularity of this weight of yarn. This knitting machine produces fabric that closest resembles hand knit garments.
Great for teens and men and home décor, such as pillows & afghans. Project knit up fairly fast due to the larger stitch size.

YARNS: Universal Yarns Classic Shades, Cascade 220 and 220 Superwash are just a few examples.

See other DK weight yarns on my Yarn Standards Page.

Silver Reed Mid-Gauge Bed Knitting Machine
LK150 6.5mm Mid-Gauge Knitting Machine

SK155 9.0mm, Punch Card, Chunky Knitting Machine
SK155 Chunky Bed


Worsted/medium weight yarns symbol
WORSTED WEIGHT YARNS
2/8 (3/12) - 2/4 (4/8)

Hand knit needles US 7-9
4.5-5.5mm
4.5-5 sts per inch
9 wraps per inch

TENSION 5 on 9mm (bulky bed knitting machines)

TENSION 8-10 on 6.5-7mm (mid-gauge bed knitting machines)

About 3 times as thick as Fingering, hand knitters work them on size 7, 8 & 9 American needles. They usually have 4.5 or less stitches per inch. Produces a heavier fabric real popular for couch afghans and jackets.

YARNS: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worstedand Cascade 220 just for starters.

See other worsted weight yarns on my Yarn Standards Page.

Silver Reed Mid-Gauge Bed Knitting Machine
LK150 6.5mm Mid-Gauge Knitting Machine

Silver Reed 9.0mm Bulky Bed Knitting Machine
SK155 9.0mm, Punch Card, Chunky Knitting Machine


bulky yarns
BULKY WEIGHT YARNS
2/4 (4/8) & larger

Hand knit needles US 10-11
5-6mm
3-3.5 sts per inch
7-8 wraps per inch

TENSION 7-9 on 9mm (bulky bed knitting machines)

In your local yarn stores, you can find wonderful quality bulky weight yarns. Mohair with long strands knit at this gauge. The stitches need to be loose enough for the to fur.
Great for cold weather activities, such as skiing. Or for jackets. Big stitches meant faster knitting and less intense concentration, thus causing this knitting to be very relaxing for the working person.

Silver Reed 9.0mm Bulky Bed Knitting Machine
SK155 9.0mm, Punch Card, Chunky Knitting Machine


Super bulky yarns

SUPER BULKY WEIGHT YARNS

Hand knit needles US 10-17
6-10+mm
1.5-2.5 sts per inch

TENSION 10 mm (maybe) (bulky bed knitting machines)

In the year 2000, this gauge of yarn skyrocketed in popularity. The big stitches meant faster knitting and less intense concentration, thus causing this knitting to be very relaxing for the working person.
These are very thick. About 4-6 strands of fingering will make this weight. A very popular weight today with professional people who knit for a hobby and take their knitting everywhere. Knits fast and easy to correct mistakes.

Some of these yarns are so bulky they will not knit on the bulky knitting machine, even on every other needle.


In conclusion:

This is just a beginning. Experienced knitters may find this too general & often vague, with many exceptions. But for new knitters this may bridge the gap of how yarns they have been exposed to, relate to yarns commonly used in machine knitting. The final judge of what knitting machine tension to knit a yarn at is to cast on and knit 20 rows using the above categories as a starting point. Adjust the tension if necessary and knit another 20 rows.

For hand knitters looking to purchase a knitting machine, this guide is perfect for them to rule out the knitting machines that will not knit the yarns that they desire to use on their future knitting machine. This is one of the best ways to narrow the search down.

There will certainly be yarns that should fit the Tension 5 category that seem happier in the Tension 7 category. Yarns that are fuzzy are an example of this. Sometimes cottons that won't stretch need to go up in tension to knit smoothly. I hope this classification helps you to feel more comfortable with trying a new yarn. If you have any questions feel free to email me.

I want to thank Kathleen Kinder & Carole Ingram for their assistance.I also want to thank Donna Lamb for producing such an informative book.

Ply & Count

According to Carole Ingram at Yarns and . . . . sometimes the ply & count on cones can be misleading. And some companies just to keep the confusion down, don’t mention yarn counts.Carole has a short, but very informative article at her web site. Carole says, "In the example of 3/9 wool or acrylic, the first number is the number of plies. A ply is a single strand, so this is 3 strands of yarn. The second number of the fraction is the yarn thickness." The higher the thickness number the finer the yarn. It seems backwards to me and that is probably why most of us have trouble with ply & count. 



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