A well-stocked needle supply

jennSeptember 7, 2008

I returned to knitting late last year after a many-year layoff and I now have a supply of bamboo needles of several lengths. I'm still knitting just scarves for practice and fun but I'm almost ready to branch out to sweaters and socks.

I like to have 2 or 3 different projects going at once so I can pick one or another and not get bored working with just one every day. The only problem with that is when I have only one pair of a given needle size and I want to use the same size for another project.

I'd like to have a good supply of quality needles without spending a fortune buying needles that I won't use, don't like, stitches snag or easily slip, etc.. I prefer shopping at the local knit shops even if I pay a little more, to help keep them in business. Also, I prefer wooden or bamboo needles as the yarn isn't as prone to slipping off as it is with metal needles.

I also have a pair of short bamboo circulars that I haven't used yet because I'm still knitting scarves and the cord gets twisted in the yarn.... very frustrating and I end up ripping out and switching to straight needles.

So........ like a well-stocked pantry......... what would you consider a well-stocked supply of needles?

If you could pick 2 or 3 pairs of needles to take along with you on vacation in case you find some nice yarn and want to start a project while you're away, which ones would you choose to take with you, and why?

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I knit a lot of socks and fingerless mitts, so I like to have a couple of sets of DPNs in sizes 1-3 for knitting these. For other stuff, I might have a set of DPNs, but then I'll have a variety of different lengths in all sizes of circulars. If you have a lot of circs, you can knit almost anything. I don't use any straight needles except for DPNs.

My most-used sizes are 3,4,5,6, in DPNs and 16 (for hats), 24 and 30 inch circs. I don't care for bulky yarns, sticking with sport to worsted wts for most things so I can knit an awful lot of stuff if I have these needles in my bag.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 6:29PM
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Well, for starters, If I am taking a vacation, I will plan more for what projects I would take than what clothing I would take, LOL! Yarn, patterns, needles and notions all specific to the projects. But I would also take along my Needlemaster so I would have any needle I could possibly want.

Just a hint about wanting to use the same needles for a project when they are already tucked into another. You can put the stitches from one project onto a piece of waste thread or yarn and tie knots in the yarn to tell you what size needles you were using. For example, 8 knots=size 8 needles. That way you can use the needles for another project and you can't forget what size to use when you come back.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Thank you. I have yet to get any DPNs but I'm sure I will when I start socks.

Donna, would you recommend your Needlemaster for any knitter? Would you choose differently if didn't have it?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 10:06PM
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The knitpicks harmony wood needle circular set is on my Christmas list this year. Here lately, the only sizes I use are 8 and 3! I gave away all my straight needles because of wrist problems and only use circs now.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 8:44AM
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I love bamboo needles and for several years now, I have yearned for the Bamboo Sister set. But it's nearly 3 times the price of my Needlemaster set, so I doubt I'll ever be able to justify it.

I do like my NM set, but I don't love it. The cables are very firm and sometimes I have to fight them. And sometimes the yarn gets stuck at the join. But I don't hate them.

I recently purchased a couple of cables and points from Knitpicks Options set just to try and I absolutely love them. I bought one size each in the harmony wood and the metal and both are wonderful. The Options Interchangeable set is at the top of my Christmas wish list too, Rebecca. I also use almost exclusively circulars, sometimes dpns.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 9:46AM
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I have used bamboo straight needles for several years, and like them quite a bit. The first interchangeable set of circular needles that I bought was the Plymouth Yarn Company's Bamboo Sister set. I honestly don't like them a whole lot. The cables have a strong memory, so it's a constant battle with them. I have found that it's best to take the cables out of the case and leave them hanging upside down (like a large upside-down U); but that pretty much precludes them from being in a "traveling set." Also, the needles have a tendency to start to come untwisted from the cable (no doubt from the constant turning and twisting when fighting the cable's tendency to want to go back into a tight little circle); and the yarn gets caught in the space at the join.

You can relax the curl of the cable by running hot water over it, but you must be careful not to get water on the spot where the cable joins to the little cap. This is fine if you're at home (or at a friend's) when you pull one out and start a new project, but if you are on a bus, train, plane, etc., where you can't easily do that, you're stuck with cables that want to stay in a tight little circle.

After knitting only one project (a baby blanket out of Plymouth's yarn -- garter stitch border, stockinette stitch body of the blanket -- I was so frustrated with the cable that I went to KnitPicks.com and ordered their Options circular set in the Harmony Wood. LOVE THEM. They also have a narrower, sharper point, so it's easier to knit with the finer-weight yarns than with the Plymouth set. The cables have very little, if any, memory, so they're easy to knit with. The cables (two per package per size) also come with two "end caps" per cable. If you need to take the needle ends off to use on another project before you're done with your current project, you simply twist on the end caps and they keep the yarn from sliding off the cable. Or, you can use one needle on one end of the cable and an end cap on the other end of the cable (do this with both cables of the same size) and have a flexible needle set. You can also order extra needles. I have extra two-needle sets in sizes 6, 7, and 8 because I seem to be using those sizes a lot lately. There's also a tightening hole in the ends of the cables -- you slip a little "tool" that comes with the cables into that hole and it helps to tighten the join (gives you some leverage when you're tightening), and it really does help to prevent the loosening of the needles from the cables. I've got the cables in four of the five lengths they currently offer -- 24", 32", 40", and 47" -- I don't have the 60" cables.

I know I sound like an ad for the Options set.... I don't work for the company and don't own stock in the company. I just use and love the Options set. (And now they have straights in the Harmony Wood, so I know I'm going to end up getting that set, too, even though I already have enough bamboo needles to stock two stores...)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 5:17AM
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