Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Knitting needles

You know knitting needles come in different sizes, and are made of different materials--metal, bamboo, wood. Each knitter has a favorite--warm wood or strong metal. I like bamboo needles in small sizes for knitting socks, but the price often is a snapped needle--at which point I remember why small double pointed needles were traditionally made in steel. Every kind of needle has it faults, however, metal needles can scratch, and wooden needles can split. different needle point stylesNeedles come in radically different point styles. It took several years of knitting before I settled on my favorites (Boye needles, now harder to find than ever...). These are aluminium needles with a relatively long, somewhat concave, ball-pointed tip. The needles I go slowest on are those with short, convex, rounded tips. Yet, when I'm knitting with superwash wool (very prone to splitting), I go faster with a rounded tip because it is less likely to split the wool.

Needles come in different finishes. I prefer the matte surface of the anodized Boye brand aluminium needle to the mirror finish of some nickel-plated needles. The nickel-plated needles can be so shiny that I end up stabbing at the reflection of the stitch, instead of the stitch itself--annoying. The relatively rough surface of a bamboo needle is a good match for a slippery superwash yarn on four small double pointed needles--a metal needle might slide right out. Yet, a metal needle is a far better choice for hairy single ply lopi--that hairy wool would knit up slower on wood or bamboo.

The point (!) is that on some projects, you'd go a lot faster if you had a different needle. Maybe some of the clunker projects in the bottom of the basket would reveal their loveable sides if there were a better match between the needle and the yarn.

(And given our proximity to the holidays, you may, if you like, consider this an excuse to go out and...shop for some more needles, even if you already have that size in every length.)



Blogger Rohanknitter said...

This is a great resource!
Thanks so much!

December 13, 2006 at 1:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you...you have cleared up about 3 years of questions for me..i can never know which needles to use.

December 13, 2006 at 12:01 PM  
Anonymous susie lee said...

i like the shiny myself, it is pretty...

December 13, 2006 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Adele said...

I find garage sales are a great place to find Boye needles, and I love them best also.

December 14, 2006 at 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a craft store in Waupun with tons of Boye needles. I bought a bunch I haven't tried yet.

December 14, 2006 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Glen said...

I always see boye needles at Michael's... In fact, I have every available size in the 14" Boye needles. I like them as well.

April 14, 2007 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

I just came across this post. I feel vindicated. I am always hounding the ladies at the local yarn stores for aluminum needles. One lys pushed metal, the other wood or bamboo. I like Inox 6" ally for socks, cut will use Brittany Birch 5". I am growing fond of the addi turbo circulars. No worries about the join of the needles.

June 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree that Boye needles (Which I can usually find at Michael's Arts & Crafts stores) are the best because of the more matte colored metal. I prefer the ease and speed of metal over wood, but the super shiny needles glare makes it hard for me to see and its annoying to constantly have to shift about to find the sweet spot where your lighting doesn't make knitting annoying. I have been toying with the idea of using etching fluid to try to make some of these super shiny needles more matte. My one major concern is that all the slickness would be gone and the needle would then become rough... any thoughts?

February 26, 2014 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Unkown--I would take a magic eraser (which is just super super fine sandpaper) to the needles. That will dull them but still leave them slick and smooth. (Try a little bit near the bottom first!) Best, TK

February 26, 2014 at 5:44 PM  

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