Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rough guide: HK - MK conversion

If anyone's ever had one of those Brother convertibles, and wondered what the chart on the left hand end meant, it's supposed to be a rough guide to equivalent hand-knitting needle sizes. These are, of course, in Japanese, so I've typed up a metric conversion. There's a bigger chart here and lots of useful information about Japanese knitting here

4.5mm  JP     Metric (mm)
1      1      2.4
2      1-2    2.4 - 2.7
3      2      2.7
4      3      3
5      4      3.3

6      5      3.6
7      5-6    3.6 - 3.9
8      6      3.9
9      6-7    3.9 - 4.2
10     7      4.2
11     8      4.5
12     8-9    4.5 - 4.8
13     9      4.8

I think the idea was, you have a hand-knitting yarn that calls for x sized needles, and you can use this information to decide what equivalent tension to use on the convertible machine. The convertible machine has no "half" tensions, unlike the Passap which has increments of 0.25 or the Japanese machines which tend to have increments of 0.33 (usually indicated as dots). 

Of course, as any experienced knitter will tell you, this is also largely dependant on the yarn thickness itself. Not all yarn thicknesses are created equal! So I'd use this as a starting point only - only you can decide if you like the resulting feel of the fabric you create. Of course, unless you happen to own a set of Japanese knitting needles, you'll have to approximate anyway, as English metric needles only tend to come in 0.25 and 0.5mm variants in the smaller sizes!

I have often thought about researching various yarns on the knitting machine, and producing a table of tensions vs machine gauge vs equivalent hand knitting needle. But as a project it would never end - and even identical machines can knit to different gauges due to variations in the manufacturer, the speed/ease of the yarn flow, the overhead tension mast. There are just too many variables to be able to produce something that will be perfectly consistent for everyone. Which is why we should always make a tension swatch! If you can't quite get the tension to match a pattern, aim to match the stitch tension. It's easy to add or subtract rows, but a lot harder to recalculate shaping. 

As an aside, if you have machine-knitted a garment, and need to include some hand-knitted elements (for example, a complex cable that is too tight to machine knit, or to add a hand-knitted welt), then figuring out which size needles to use is really easy. Poke a needle through a knitted stitch. If it's loose, go up a size. Keep trying different sizes until you find a needle that is pretty snug. That should be the size you'll need for stocking stitch. Go down two sizes from that for ribbing. 

In other news, I've completed one batch of xmas knitting but love the yarn so much I may well just get some more. I've another commission to do for a friend so that'll be happening this weekend. 

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