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What needle was I using?

September 18, 2012

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See that? It’s a mess, right? I grabbed a handful of needles out of my needle bin to show you the variety of types that I have, and it made me think of something else. My needles are a mess. I have a case for circular needles, but I don’t like it because the pockets that you put the needles in are open at the bottom, so they just fall out a bit, and it’s not handy. So I just keep them all in a fabric bin/basket from Ikea. It’s not ideal.

What I really wanted to talk about is why it is a good idea to have a variety of types and materials in your needle collection. When I first started knitting, I bought bamboo needles in town, straights and dpn’s, because they are grabby and nice to learn on. As I got better, I bought Harmony needles from Knit Picks, an interchangeable set and some fixed circulars in the smaller sizes. Eventually I realized that I was never going to get gauge for socks using such giant needles as that, I mean, come on. 2mm? (US0) That’s huge. So I got some Hiya Hiya and Addi turbo lace circs in smaller sizes. The smallest needles I have are Hiya Hiya’s in 1.2mm. They are tiny. They are so pointy that I poke holes in my right pointer finger every time I use them, which causes my gauge to loosen up, so I usually just use the 1.5mm’s and hope for the best.

I have a beautiful set of rosewood straights (see photo) that I rarely use, and when I do it’s because I want to use the needles, not because they are best for the yarn. I could use them more if they were smaller, 4.5mm is not often called for around here.

I have recently branched out to try needles made of other things. Can you see the red cable in the photo above? That is my ChiaGoo circ, size 2mm, which I absolutely love for knitting flat, things like shawls and scarves, and for circular knitting that doesn’t require magic loop. The firm cable is great for that. I find it useful even for thread-like yarn, like most of the Habu I have in my stash. The nice thing about this circ is that it is the only one I have. I was trying to remember what size needle I had been using for a sample that I had set aside for a while, and couldn’t for the life of me think of it, but then I remembered the look of the grey yarn over a red cable, and knew immediately which one it was.

I also have one bamboo circ with a 60″ cable, a 2.25mm. I use it for spiral blankets. I am working on the third and fourth of such blankets, and am not using that circ for the fourth one because it is currently in the third one (which isn’t exactly a spiral, more of a square blanket in the round), and someone sat on my knitting bag and snapped the tip off, so I can’t finish that project until the replacement comes. It is funny how wrong the fourth blanket feels because I am using a fixed Harmony needle with it, and not my bamboo circ.

I only knit laceweight sweaters with square needles. I used a set with the annoying floppy cables for Camp Loopy last year and a new set with the firmer cable for Camp Loopy this year. They are very ideal for laceweight sweaters, and I have no idea why I love them so much for this, but haven’t tried them for anything else. It’s handy though, to remember what the cables looked like and know that they are the go to choice for any other laceweight sweaters I chose to make.

So I guess my point is this. Often the advice is given to find your favorite needles and buy a set of them, because you will never need anything else. I disagree. Different needles are best for different projects. Try a variety of them, because you never know what you will love and why. I haven’t used anything from my interchangeable set in years, and when I did use it, I only used a few sizes. Most of the needles have yet to be used. I should sell them, shouldn’t I.

So what needles do you always use for a certain type of project? Do you have any that you love for one thing, but have never used for anything else?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rhonnie permalink
    September 18, 2012 10:40 am

    Too funny :) it just shows how different everyone is :)
    I LOVE my knit picks nickel plated interchangeables and my nickel plated dpn’s (in place of straights). I use them for anything and everything unless I have a square kollage in the right size available (the new made in USA, firm cable is the best).
    I have other needles that I have purchased – kp harmonies, clover bamboo, other brands of bamboo, hiya hiya, chiagoo with the red cable, Addi turbos & lace…I don’t use them if I can help it. I like slick and pointy with a smooth join, no matter what my project or yarn is.
    I picked up a pair of wooden needles a while back and it reminded me why I switched to metal, lol. I can’t stand the sticky way stitches move on them, I knit too tightly for that.
    Different strokes and all that :)

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