This morning, Sally emailed me with a question about needles:
Is there some kind of sense to what needles with what or is it just a matter of trying to see what you like?
When I first learned how to knit, as a tiny tot, I used my mother’s needles. All 14″ straight needles. When I was maybe 14 or 15 years old, my mother bought me my own needles. We were a military family, and one day when she was shopping at the PX, she saw they had just gotten in knitting needles, so she bought me four or five pairs (and they were all 14″ straights, aluminum, and made by Boye, I believe). I used these needles for years, augmenting them when I made something that required a size I didn’t have.
It was well into the 80s before I started using circular needles for everything, then I bought Susan Bates circs as I needed them. Eventually I replaced all those with Addi Turbo circs, little by little. I used to ask for Addi Turbos for Christmas from my mom. I know have sizes 0 through 11 in varying lengths — 12″, 16″, 24″, 32″, 40″. Not all sizes in all lengths, but pretty darn close.
For sweaters in pieces, like arans, I use a 24″ length. For sweaters in the round, like fair isles, I use a 32″ length. 16″ needles are for collars and sleeves in the round. I bought some 40″ length needles for shawls.
Then I discovered wooden needles, which I prefer for fair isles, because the wood “grabs” the stitches slightly and helps to maintain an even tension. So I’ve got bamboo, rosewood, and ebony circulars in various sizes and lengths.
Then of course there are dpns . . .
I’ve got dpns in birch, bamboo, ebony, rosewood, and steel.
As a rule of thumb, I like to use the Addi Turbos for arans and texture. They are fast needles so are good to use for something that’s an easy pattern, like straight stockinette. I like them for cable work, because it makes cabling without a cable needle easier when you a needle that allows the stitches to move freely.
I’m using an Addi Turbo on my Rebecca wrap sweater, because the kid mohair is fuzzy, and I think the “grab” of wooden needles would slow down the knitting.
Now if I have a yarn that’s very slippery, I might use a wooden needle because I want to slow it down — keep it from flying off the needle.
I used an Addi Turbo for Kinsale because it just felt better. But I usually try a wooden needle first with smooth yarns because I prefer the feel of wood in my hands over metal.
Nowadays I almost never use straight needles, but I did buy a pair of Lantern Moon 10″ straights in ebony (from Knit Happens, who also has ‘em in rosewood) for the Jade Sapphire cashmere scarf. I do like working scarves on short straights, and I love ebony needles!
Needles are very much a matter of personal preference, though. I know knitters who use nothing but Addi turbos, and ones who use nothing but bamboos.
Speaking of the Rebecca wrap cardi, here’s the finished back:
Knitting a simple, delicate lace sweater on 4.5mm needles after a heavily textured knit on size 2.5mm is great therapy. I highly recommend it.
The Rebecca pattern does leave a lot to interpretation — perhaps because the English version is a translation? No bother, because it’s pretty easy to figure out what they mean.
I’ve got a fair bit done on the left side front as well.
So . . . what did Lucy do all day?