Knitting Needle Conversions From Metric to US and UK sizes

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Because different countries may use different numbers for the same size knitting needles, it’s important to always check which type of pattern you’re using and that you’re using the correct size needles. Our handy, downloadable, knitting needle conversion chart and explanation makes this super easy!

Knitting needle conversion

How Knitting Needle Sizes Work

The good news is that the size of the needles remains the same across straight, double-pointed needles (also called DPNs), and circular needles. So, for instance, a KnitPal 4mm straight knitting needle will have the same diameter than a KnitPal circular knitting needle. The lengths of the needles do differ and that can make a big difference depending on what you’re knitting. After all, you don’t want to use needles that are too short (and all your stitches keeps on slipping off) or too long (this can especially be a problem with a small project on long circular needles).

Also, whether your knitting needles are made of bamboo, plastic, wood, aluminum or casein, the size will still depend on the diameter of the knitting needle, not what it is made of. You can rest assured, then, that your KnitPal knitting needles will always be the same diameter and will knit up perfectly, whatever style you choose!

(Cable needles are not sold by size the same way as “conventional” needles are, and won’t be covered in this post. Basically, if you use thin needles, use a thin cable needle, and vice versa.)

Download your free knitting needle conversion chart here.

Knitting Needle Sizes Around the World

US Sizes

The opposite of the UK sizes, in the US, the smaller the number of the knitting needle, the thinner the knitting needle is. For instance, a US size 6 will be a UK size 8 and a metric size 4mm. The “old US system” divided knitting needles into standard and steel needles (the steel ones being lace needles). If you work with vintage knitting needles, make sure what their sizing is before starting your project! The same goes for working with needles in the old continental sizes. (But why not treat yourself to a nice new set of needles when you’re starting out? Try one of the KnitPal sets!)

UK Sizes

UK sizes are numbered in the opposite way of the US sizes. The larger the needle is, therefore, the lower the number of the needle is. For instance, a UK size 6 is the US size 8 and the metric size 5 mm.

Metric Sizes

Used in countries like South Africa, the metric sizes are measured in millimeter (mm). A US size 0 will correspond to a 2 mm knitting needle, a US size 6 to 4 mm and so on.

Japanese sizes

If you buy Japanese knitting needles (or use Japanese patterns using Japanese sizes), be aware that the sizing is also different from the US, UK, and metric sizes. These sizes are also shown on our downloadable knitting needle conversion PDF.

If you buy knitting needles from a country using different sizing, it’s always good to have a conversion chart like this one at hand instead of guessing.

A Handy Tool - The Needle Gauge

While most knitting needles come with the size marked on the needle itself, it may sometimes wear off from use and then you’re left wondering whether a needle is a 4 or 6. Luckily you get a handy tool called a needle gauge (like this one you get with the KnitPal set). With this tool, you can measure the needle and see what size it is.

Download your free knitting needle conversion chart here.


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