Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Needle, Needle, Who's Got The Needle?

I was just chatting with a friend about knitting needles, and how no matter how many of them you own, you never seem to have the size you need when you're about to start a project. For me, that's often because I'm a startophobic...i.e., I start multiple projects and have many going at one time. So while I may own needles in the correct size, the odds are they're already engaged in an ongoing WIP (that's work-in-progress, a writing term but I think it works for knitting also).

Until recently, size (and perhaps length) was my only concern with knitting needles. I had a bunch of needles from when I was a child (too many years ago to recount), and they were almost all aluminum. Susan Bates and Boye, mostly, I think. With a pair or two of colorful plastic ones thrown in for good measure. That was all there was back then, so you didn't have much choice. And while recently I've heard praise for different types of wooden needles, other varieties of plastics, various metals and even glass, I figured, heck, aluminum works fine for me.

But then I started a lace shawl, and found I kept dropping stitches when trying to do K2tog or even K3tog. The needles were just too darned slippery, and the tips weren't quite sharp enough. Also, the taper was too short and wide. I whined to my LYS owner about this and she suggested I try out Bryspun Needles. She even let me try them in the shop for an hour or so before making the purchase decision. (Yeah, she's terrific.)

I love them! The yarn doesn't slip off the needles when I don't want it to, but moves easily enough when necessary. The taper is long, the point is sharp enough, and I especially love the concave surface of the taper...an extra help to keep that stitch from dropping.

The website says they're good for arthritic hands because they're flexible. I can't swear to that, but I can say I haven't had hand pain while knitting since I started using them, so it's entirely possible.

They're lightweight, look like ivory even though they're plastic, and very reasonably priced. What more could you ask for? Next I'm going to try their circulars, and then the dps. I bet I'll like them, too.

Someday, I also plan to spring for some Signature Needle Arts knitting needles. Okay, they look like they're aluminum. ;-) But you can custom order them with various lengths, different decorative caps, and most importantly, three types of tips, including stiletto. So they're also on my wish list!

Do you have a favorite brand or type of knitting needle? What is there about it that you like? Or do you have needles you can't stand? Enquiring minds want to know!

2 comments:

Jen said...

I know I talked about these in e-mail, too, but for the sake of discussion I'll bring my thoughts here.

I've been knitting for 40 years or so, and have a large assortment of brands and styles. The single-point needle collection is the most eclectic, including plastics, aluminum, balene, and wood. Sometimes I'll pick a single-point set for looks ("these look like fun today"), sometimes for material (plastic needles are warm in the hand and quiet, metal needles are fast and slippery).

My favorite single points are the Bryspun you talk about, and my Brittany birch. The Bryspun are just so nice to knit with, and that concave taper is great with fine or splitty yarns. Brittany birch needles feel good in the hands with their smooth finish, and just look so nice they're a pleasure to work with.

That said, I hardly ever use single point needles any more. When I knit flat, it's almost always on circular needles, just for ease of handling.

Favorite circulars are KnitPicks. I'm in love with the Harmony/Options interchangable set, and their fixed circulars in other sizes are every bit as good. My vast collection of Addi Turbo circs sits idle now tha tI have the KnitPicks in the house.

DPNs - I have, but don't like, enameled aluminum and stainless steel dpns. They're too slippery for most purposes. Favorite dpns for me are, again, KnitPicks Harmony, and Brittany birch.

Okay, that's enough words from me. Let me pass the talking needle on to someone else now!

Elizabeth Delisi said...

You know, I had some birch needles, but they kept splitting and chipping at the tips, so kept catching my yarn. Finally I had to return them as I didn't think filing the tips every few rows was something I was willing to do. ;-) But I'd love to try other wooden needles as they were definitely pretty.

Liz