Monday, 30 July 2012

A vintage mystery

I.m always on the look out for vintage knit-abilia (I thin I just made that word up - someone correct me!!) so yesterday I was delighted with these two finds in Oban's Oxfam shop
A set of long Aero dpns, size 11 (3mm) with the original wrapper marked with the price- 1/6 (thats about 7and a half pence!)  and a knitting needle guage. I already have one of these bell-shaped guages but iIthought this one was rather cute.
It wasn't till I got it home that I realised that the numbers depicting the sizes are a bit strange.
For example, the old size 11 (3mm) needles fit the hole with the number 18 beside it.
If anyone can shed any light on this measuring system I'd be very glad to hear from them


  1. I love a puzzle. At first glance (starting from 1) it looks as if the numbers may be the old UK sizes.

    Is no 1 approx 7.5mm and no 5 approx 5.5mm?

    Don't ask me how I know this, but it reminds me of a sheet metal gauge. ( Such a gauge has similar 'keyholes' around the edge, and the measurement is not the diameter of the round hole, but the gap at the edge. So instead of pushing the needle into the round hole, do the numbers work if you test using the slot at the edge?

    I've also just discovered that British or Standard Wire Gauge is the same as UK knitting needle sizes. Obviously knitting needles don't go down to SWG 34 (less than a mm) but maybe this is a wire or sheet metal gauge, marked in SWG and will also work for knitting needles in UK sizes?

  2. Peahen has suggested using the slots rather than the holes for meassuring, like a sheet metal guage - and the slot sizes (rather than the holes, except for the biggest sizes which are only holes) do correspond to old UK needle sizes. Luckily I still have enough old needles to be able to test that out! I would never have thought about using the slot rather than the hole as the guage.

    the smallest needles I have seen were I think old size 16 (in the museum in Lerwick, Shetland), this old guage goes down as far as 24 which seems too thin, and therefore flexible, to be pactical as knitting needles. Maybe crochet hooks, which only need to be to size near the tips, went down to those tiny sizes - what eyestrain!!