tell me about knitting needles

Carol_AnnSeptember 27, 2007

I keep reading about all sorts of different knitting needles -- usually by brand name, Addis and on and on and on (those are the only ones I can remember off the top of my head) -- some people have definite strong favorites. I've tried some different ones and I know I don't like plastic at all, I like some of the metal ones (I think they might be teflon-coated), and I like the bamboo ones for certain things. I don't like circular needles that much but I do use them sometimes. But beyond that I don't know much about needles. So, do you have favorites, and if so what are they (brand names or whatever) and why do you like them? What are they made of? I assume most people use different types of needles for different things but maybe not... please help me learn more! Thanks!!

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The needles I've used:

Addis: gods I lurves me these needles. They're nickel-plated, so they're ueber-slick with not very pointy tips. I've only tried the turbos. For circs, they have a nice smooth join, and the cable has little memory. They're light needles. I use them for everything, except bamboo yarn. Then they're too slick.

Clovers: Bamboo. Good for slippery yarns. I love the DPNs, but I HATE HATE HATE the circs. I hate the cable and how no matter what I do that it always stays curly. I rarely use straights, but the ones I have are Clovers. I use these mainly for wool yarns.

KnitPicks: I've used the Options and DPNs. They're also nickel-plated. The options are wery similar to the Addis, but sharper and cheaper. These are my needles of choice. I like the DPNs weight, but they are too slick for me. I like slick sock yarn, so I like to use my Clovers. Again, I use them for everything except bamboo yarns, because they're too slick. Can't wait to try the Harmony needles!!!

Crystal Palace: I've used the DPNs, and I love them. They're also bamboo and surprisingly slick. They've bent with time and use but gods, how I love these. They're lightweight and ohso nice to fit in my hands. They're expensive, though.

Susan Bates: I've used the aluminum DPNs for socks. I hate how they get sticky in my hands and they bend, and stay bent. I hate these needles. I really do. Next time I make socks on size 1 needles, I'll shell out the $15 for the Crystal Palace needles.

Boye: I've used aluminum straights. I hate them, too. Okay, I probably just hate aluminum. I gave them to my cousin, and she hates them almost as much as I do.

I've heard good things about Brittany needles, but I've only used their crochet hooks. They're birch and ohsonice.

~ Kit

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 5:58PM
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exactly the kind of input I was looking for! Thanks so much!! Of course people have different opinions, but it helps me to know what people think... it gives me direction in the long run.

Keep it coming, everyone!! And thanks again, ironkit!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 6:40PM
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I rarely use straights anymore. They put too much strain on my wrists so I do my flat knitting on circulars, These days I find myself using my Knitpicks most often. I do a lot of lace and the sharp pointy tips and slick metal finish are great. You can buy the tips and cables separately in size 4 and up but they are also sold in an interchangeable set. The cords are very flexible and the joins smooth and they are well priced compared to Addis (which I loved except for the blunt tips and price). Knitpicks has just added wood Harmony needles which I haven't bought yet since I don't use wood very often except for slippery yarns. I agree wth ironkit that some of the bamboo needles have terrible cords.

For sock knitting I use the Magic Loop method and one long 40 inch circular. I like the HiyaHiya stainless needles which have a really flexible cord and are much cheaper than Addis, whose cords ire a bit stiffer. I don't have the Knitpicks in the smaller needles sizes for socks because the longest cord length is 32 inches for these sizes and I prefer 40 inches, even though other knitters are fine with 32 for magic loop.

I guess needle preferences vary widely depending on what you knit and the kind of yarn you use. The only way to find out is to get a pair or two of a brand and try it out. Sometimes the right set of needles will make a huge difference in the knitting. What I don't get is the glass needles and the carved ones made out of exotic wood that cost 5 to 10 times as much as the others. They may be nice for show but I'd be afraid to use them. Plus a $50 pair may not be any nicer to use than the $5 ones.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 9:56PM
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I have a few Addis, mostly in the smaller sizes. I resisted buying them at first because of the cost, but I agree with Ironkit. They are WONDERFUL to work with. I still think they are overpriced, though, so I have only bought them on ebay. Even with shipping (from Hong Kong, no less), Ive paid less than I would at my LYS.

I also love Clover Bamboo. Like threejsmom, I rarely use straights anymore either, but when I do, I definitely want them to be lightweight, and the Clovers fit that bill. I wouldnÂt be without my Clover dpns and circulars.
I would love to buy, but canÂt justify right now, KnitPicks Options, because I have two sets of Boye interchangeables. I donÂt love the Boye, but I donÂt hate them either. But I just bought some of KnitPicks circulars in size 1 and 2 (2 each). I like to make socks and prefer to use 2 circulars. They didnÂt have size 0 available yet, so I bought a set of size 0 dpns, but havenÂt tried them yet. But I LOVE their circulars. TheyÂre just so smooth and the stitches move effortlessly on them.

I have only one pair of Crystal Palace bamboo circulars and what a big disappointment they are. I loved the idea that the cable wasnÂt fixed, but rotated so they never kink up. But danged if my stitches donÂt hang up at the join every single time. I hate that.

IÂve never been comfortable with aluminum straights, no matter the brand. TheyÂre just too heavy for me to hold comfortably and I either have to prop one needle in my navel or crotch, or I end up with aching fingers from trying to hold the needles aloft. But I canÂt bring myself to just toss them. Okay, IÂm a hoarder.

I also agree with threejsmom that the right set of needles can make a huge difference in the knitting, and you should just try several different types and materials to find out whatÂs best for you. Just as threejsmom loves magic loop, I find it cumbersome and prefer 2 circulars. To each her own. Go for it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 1:56AM
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Thanks -- I've been experimenting and plan to do more but am looking for input before I invest in more needles... I see statements like, "I love my XXXX needles!" but never *why* they love them. Your comments are really helping me sort it all out!!

A couple of you mention Clover bamboos -- what's the difference between them and Plymouth bamboos (which is what I have at the moment)? I wasn't a fan of bamboos until I started knitting socks and now I really like them -- partly for the light weight but also because they hold the stitches well. Not for everything but great for a lot of things.

Also, what are Magic Loops?

Thanks again for any and all comments!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 9:16AM
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Carol Ann, I'm including a link for Magic Loop. Give it a try. You may love it.

As for Clover over Plymouth, the only reason I mentioned Clover is that it is the only brand of bamboo that is available locally to me. I've never tried Plymouth, but I have ordered some Brittany Birch dpns. I use them and like them, but they are just not as smooth as Clover. And I've used some made of Rosewood. Again, good, but I really like the Clovers. I did once order a huge set of bamboo dpns from Hong Kong (no name - an ebay special) and they are just as good as Clover. One thing I forgot to mention though, as much as I like bamboo, I've noticed that I tend to break the really small ones when I make socks. Never sat on one (yet), but they sometimes can't take the stress of my sockknitting.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 10:04AM
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I think I'm the voice of dissent on this one. I'm not so particular about what brand of needles I use. My collection is still growing, and a new project frequently requires a new set of needles for me.

For the sizes you'll use a ton of, it may be worth investing in the spendy needles, but I can't say that I find any brand irritating enough to make me abandon a project.

I definitely prefer to use wooden DPNs, I have a perfectly serviceable aluminum set, but I think it is easier to avoid laddering with the less slippery ones.

For circs, it is all about the join between the needle and the cable. If that is smooth and my knitting won't get stuck there, I could care less about brand or material. (Although I think the smooth join is why KP and Addis are so popular)

And I actually like the way cheapo aluminum straights click and feel cool in my hands.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 1:16PM
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If you like bamboo DPNs for sock knitting, the Crystal Palace have resin added so they are stronger. Take a look at the new Knitpicks Harmony wood needles which apparently are laminated for strength.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 1:16PM
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I started buying knitting needles about 1961, and I have bought them as I have needed a particular size and have lots of them. The early needles are aluminum, which can be cooler to hold and a very slippery surface, which I often prefer. I have never bought pricey needles, mostly because they were not available and that I am cheap.

My early double pointed needles are aluminum too, and they are just too slippery to use as the needles will just tip out of the stitches as I am working with another needle.

I like bamboo and wood needles quite well. My size 1 and 2 Clover bamboo dps that I use for socks have curved, but they still work well.

I had a lot of trouble finding wood needles, especially reasonably priced ones. So out of curiosity, I bought some wood dowel and made several different sizes of straight and double pointed sets, cutting them into lengths with my pruning shears. If the dowel was small enough, I started the point using the pencil sharpener. If it was quite thick, I used a kitchen paring knife to whittle the tip and lots of emery board and sandpaper to shape it. I used very fine sandpaper as the final smoothing and then rubbed them down with wax paper and handcream. I made stoppers with wood beads and miniature wood "flowerpots." I really like them and have them for less than $1 a pair. I like wood because it is not cold in my hands like the aluminum. Stitches don't move off the needle quite as fast as from aluminum, yet I do not feel they slow me down. I like wood needles because they do not make my hands chilly on a cold day, and I LOVE wood dps because the needles do not slip out of the stitches.

I have several kinds of circular needles. My favorites were from a resale on Ebay of some old nylon circulars. There is no join of the needle to the cable--it is all one piece --and so the stitches do not hang up. They are warm to the touch, and have a nice cusiony feel to them. You can put them in a sink of hot water before using them and then pull them tight a moment as they cool off and that will straighten out the stored cable kinks. They are my favorite circulars, but I don't think they are being manufactured currently. I just need to get back to shopping on Ebay, but usually the seller has no idea of their size, so you buy not knowing what size they are.

I am not a knitting needle snob as you can tell.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 4:54PM
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Unfortunately you've asked a question I love to answer. And answer and answer and answer:-). I have a huge collection of knitting needles, straights, double pointed and circular in every single size, from super-skinny for lace, all the way to jumbo. I always used Aero for years, a British and Canadian make. But this was before the surge in yarns, and now I find that different needle materials really do make a difference. (I began knitting in the days when it was lace weight, sport weight, worsted weight, aran weight and lopi style. Eyelash, roving, bamboo, etc. wasn't even a wink in a wool company's eye.) I do still really like my Aeros for a great deal of my knitting. But I also have some wood ones I really like-- usually ebony, rosewood and some exotic ones from My only complaint about that site is that the sizes are incredibly limited. But they are beautiful and she ships VERY fast. I'm not so fond of bamboo-- just don't get the fuss about it. But the other woods are very enjoyable to work with. I've gotten a couple of glass needles from They are beautiful, although there were some marks in mine. I don't know if that's just the way handmade glass come out, or if there really are defects. I didn't love them at first, but once I got the hang of them, I do now. They work really well! I also have bone needles from Lacis. I LOVE working with bone. It just works so well. But if you're a vegetarian, that won't go over so well with you. I also have been working with cassein, needles made from milk protein. You can get them from They are a bit flexible and if you have sweaty hands they will produce an unpleasant smell! Also, pets seem to like to chew on these (the milk product?) As for aluminium-- they do clatter a bit. Plastic-- I steer clear from it, but interestingly, the Susan Bates Candy Cane collection works very well for me, where as their other plastic doesn't--, go to Products, go to Accessories, go to Knitting, go to Needles, go to Gift Sets. So what does this all mean to you? Here's really what it comes down to: The smoother the material of the needles, the slippier they are to knit with. For smoother yarns, you may want a bit of a rougher needle, such as bamboo. For something such as Lion Brand's Microspun, you need needles with a bit of a "catch", or every other stitch will be sliding off the needle. But if you're using say a more "raw" wool, lopi for instance, the smoother the needle the better. It also has to do with your knitting style-- do you throw or knit continental, how tight your guage is-- the tighter the guage the smoother the needle should be and visa versa, and do you like the needles to feel warm or cool in your hands. Also how comfortable you are with a heavier or lighter needle? And if heaviness bothers you, I wouldn't even try straight needles-- instead, use a circular and just turn the fabric over when you get to the end, just as if they were 2 separate straights and not connected by the cord. Oh yes-- some of the cords on circulars are attrocious. Unfortunately, the more expensive needles tend to have much better cords. If you go on the Joann site-- they have reviews of most of their products and you can read what other people's experiences have been. And one last thing-- I have just ordered some Harmony Wood needles from knitpicks-- they just looked too pretty not to try. Gosh-- hope this hasn't made it worse with all this information!:-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 11:05PM
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