Gauge and Quality
The size of the needle and the spacing of the needles on knitting machines determine the number and size of the knit stitches and their closeness those are known as knitting element. Each wale is formed on one needle. The number of needles is equal to the number of Wales. The closeness of the stitches determines whether a knit fabric will be lightweight and open or heavier and more dense. The term gauge is used to describe the closeness of knit stitches. Gauge is the number of needles in a measured space on the knitting machine. Higher-gauge fabrics (those with more stitches) are made with finer needles; lower gauge fabrics are made with coarser or larger needles.
The term cut is also used to designate the number of needles per inch in the needle bed of a circular weft knitting machine. To describe the stitch density of a single or double knit fabric, the fabric may be designated as an 18-, 20-, 22-, or 24cut fabric. The higher the cut, the closer the stitches; the lower the cut, the coarser the fabric.
Varying types of knitting machines measure gauge over different distances on the machine. For example, circular knit hosiery measures the number of needles in 1.0 inch, fullfashioned knitting in 1.5 inches, and Raschel knits in 2.0 inches.
Because of these differences, it is best to keep in mind the generalized principle that the higher the gauge, the closer the stitches.
The quality of needles used in manufacturing knit goods is related directly to the quality of the fabric produced. Needles of uneven size and quality will produce knit fabrics with unevensized stitches and imperfect surface appearance.
In warp knits, those knits in which the yarns interlace in the long direction, one or more yarns are allotted to each needle on the machine, and those yarns follow the long direction of the fabric. For weft knits, those in which the yarns interlace crosswise or horizontally, one or more yarns are used for each course, and these yarns move across the fabric. In weft knits, one yarn may have from twenty to several hundred needles associated with it. To summarize, weft knits can be made with one yarn, but warp knits must have a whole set of warp yarns, that is, one or more for each needle.
Once the basic distinction between warp and weft knits has been made, further subdivisions of knit classifications are usually based on the types of machines used in their production. The majority of knit fabrics are named after the machines on which they are constructed. For this reason, the discussion of knitted fabrics that follows is organized around the types of machines used in manufacturing knit fabrics and the types of knit fabrics made on these machines.
1. Flat or circular jersey, or single knit, machine: one needle bed and one set of needles.
2. Flat or circular rib machine: two needle beds and two sets of needles.
3. Flat or circular purl, or links-links, machine: two needle beds and one set of needles.