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oddballs anyone?Sizing Up Oddballs
Part 4: Matching to Needle Size and Gauge
If you've read the previous articles in this series and tried one of those techniques, you now know how many yards of yarn you have in that pile of oddballs.

But you still don't know the yarn's gauge or ideal needle size for knitting.

Fortunately, this part of the process requires no greater investment than that of a standard household ruler.

Some wise person along the way discovered that if you wrap yarn around a ruler and measure how many wraps are in one inch, no matter how thick or thin or wide or narrow a ruler you use, it'll always tell you that yarn's gauge.

In This Series

  Article Home
  Part 1: Niddy Noddy
  Part 2: McMorran Yarn Balance
  Part 3: Yarn Meter
  Part 4: Matching to Needle Size and Gauge
  NEW: Using a Kitchen Scale
Using a standard ruler (or one of the cute wooden WPI tools), start wrapping your yarn around the ruler, being careful not to overlap the strands or create gaps between them. Once you've wrapped your yarn around an inch of the ruler, simply count the number of wraps you made.

Then, use the chart below to find the closest corresponding gauge, yarn category, and needle size that will work for your yarn.

Addendum: Nancy Shroyer of Nancy's Knit Knacks just emailed to share her tip: If you try rolling the yarn onto the ruler, you'll get a more reliable count. This is because the act of wrapping yarn around an object can add more twists to the yarn, which produce a tighter yarn that will measure differently than it is on the skein. Instead, hold the yarn in one hand and roll the ruler toward that yarn. Thanks Nancy!

WPI Category Gauge Needle (U.S.) Approx. yards per oz
19-22 Fingering 7-8 sts = 1" 1-3 110-144
14-19 Sport 6-6.5 sts = 1" 4-6 75-110
11-13 DK 5.5-6 sts = 1" 5-7 75-100
10-12 Worsted 4-5.5 sts = 1" 7-9 55-75
8-10 Bulky 3-3.5 sts = 1" 10-11 30-55
4-8 Superbulky / Polar 1.5-3.5 sts = 1" 13-17 25-30

Now that you know the secret to deciphering tagless skeins, you can go forth and attack your stash with vigor. Better yet, the next time you see a pile of tagless skeins at a yard sale, antique shop, or even yarn store, have no fear. You'll be acquiring with confidence.

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