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.)