Needles & Pins
Whether crafting, cooking, or on the job, using proper, quality tools is essential to the outcome. Today we'll take a closer look at tools for knitters.
The different types and sizes of knitting needles can be confusing, especially for someone just starting.
Straight (or single-point) needles are the most basic needle type. They come in varying lengths, with 14" as the longest standard size.
Some knitters prefer straight needles, especially if they tend to hold or prop the needle under their arm as they knit. The British are particularly fond of straight needles! This is why Rowan patterns are typically worked flat and not in the round.
While some knitters stick with straights, many move to circulars as their preferred needle. Circulars are short needle tips connected with a cable (or cord). You can work back and forth on these needles, just like a straight needle, or in a continual circle with the stitches positioned around the entire needle without turning.
If you are working flat, you can work with any cable length. Choose one long enough to accommodate all the stitches comfortably yet not so long that the cable flops around and becomes a bother.
If you are working in the round, choose a cable that allows the stitches to comfortably distribute around the needle without forcing them to stretch out of shape. Also, avoid having so many stitches crunched around a cable that it becomes difficult to manage.
The most important feature of a circular needle is the cable and join. We only stock needles with a pliable cable and smooth join. While circular needles have drastically improved, many lower-quality needles are still on the market and should be avoided. If the circular needle you are using has a stiff cable, or if you are fighting the stitches getting stuck at the join between the needle and the cable, pitch it in the trash and let us hook you up with a better needle!
Interchangeable needles have come into their own during the past decade or so. While they are hardly new, dating back to the mid-century and Boye's needle master, the older sets leave much to be desired. Today's interchangeable needles have drastically improved, and they are now as joyful to use as their fixed circular counterpart.
Interchangeable needles are sold as sets, or separate tips and cords, allowing you to create multiple lengths of circular needles with merely one set of tips. They are extremely handy to have on hand. We highly recommend them!
Standard 5" interchangeable tips create needles ranging from 24" to 60" in length. For shorter circulars, use a shorter tip because the longer 5" tip is too long to bring the tips together to knit. Shorter, special tips can be used to create needles as short as 5". While shorter tips may be paired with any cord length, many knitters find the shorter tip less comfortable to use with longer cord lengths.
One of the challenges of creating an interchangeable needle system is the universal join. All the needle tips in the set must have the same join to connect to the same cord. For this reason, sets that extend to the smallest and largest sizes are not typically found.
One of the benefits of the ChiaoGoo system is that the needle sizes are categorized as MINI, SMALL, and LARGE, with each size within that range paired with a comparable-sized cord. Therefore all cords do not have the same joins.
The ChiaoGoo system is less straightforward than other systems because of the different cord sizes, but it offers more options to create a broad range of needle lengths and sizes.
The stainless steel TWIST sets have the most options due to the durability of steel. The SPIN bamboo sets have a more limited size range, beginning at a size 2. SHORTIES are a must-have for those who love to knit on super short circulars.
Lykke and Lantern Moon sets are ideal if you prefer a set with a universal join. Cords interchange between both sets, plus Knitter's Pride sets. If you've already invested in different tips and cords, there is no need to start all over with new parts. The longer tips range from sizes 4-17, and the shorter tips from sizes 3-10.5 and up to 17, depending on the brand.
Knitters either love or hate double points! Double points pre-date the invention of circular needles and are used with projects worked in the round with a circumference too small to fit around a circular needle.
Modern double points are packaged in quintets. The stitches are typically arranged around a triangle of three needles, working around the triangle, knitting one needle of stitches off onto an empty needle as you spiral around the work.
You can also distribute the work in a square around four needles, working around the square with the 5th needle. It looks much more complicated than it is - you only work with two needles as usual, with the other needles just hanging around waiting.
A newer take on double points is the FlexiFlip needles from Addi. Instead of rigid needles, these consist of very short circular needles. This tiny bit of cable allows the needles to bend or flex. FlexiFlips are packaged in sets of three.
Lay the work out on a triangle with all three needles, with half of the stitches on the middle needle and a quarter on the other two needles. A stitch marker can be placed between the first and last needle. An empty needle won't be needed; continue working across the first needle of stitches until they are all onto one needle. The beginning of the round will be placed in the middle of this needle, and the stitch marker won't fall off like double points. Continue working around just like with double points.
Only buy knitting needles from reputable dealers. Amazon and similar marketplaces are flooded with counterfeit needles. All major brands have been copied, and you're likely to receive imposters unless you purchase from an authorized dealer. The imposters are of inferior quality. These are NOT the same needles and aren't even close copies. Refrain from being tempted by the lower price. No matter how low the price, it is too high for these lousy knock-offs.