You can also measure wraps per inch (WPI). The link shows how to use WPI to help figure out how much yarn to buy for sweaters, which also comes in handy. The part you're really interested in is just how to measure WPI to estimate yarn gauge, though (see chart).
There is no right way to knit; there is no wrong way to knit. So if anybody kindly tells you that what you are doing is "wrong," don't take umbrage; they mean well. Smile submissively, and listen, keeping your disagreement on an entirely mental level. They may be right, in this particular case, and even if not, they may drop off pieces of information which will come in very handy if you file them away carefully in your brain for future reference. ~Elizabeth Zimmerman