Our Needles, Ourselves

If you’ve been knitting for a while you know that knitting isn’t just about the things we make. Knitting is about the beautiful yarns we covet and stash, the friends who share our love of yarn and cheer us on through difficult projects, the events we save up to attend, and the gadgets and tools that make knitting even more enjoyable. Getting down to essentials, knitting only requires three things; hands, needles, and yarn. There are so many different needles available now, I thought it would be fun to take a peek in my needle stash and talk about my favorites.

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My needle collection

I knit almost exclusively with circular needles, having given up my double-points for magic loop a few years ago. There are a few needles I’ve tried and didn’t like, and a few I still haven’t tried, but I have a pretty nice needle collection and probably don’t need any more, except for the larger sizes. I don’t have any needles larger than 7 mm, but I haven’t had a need for any yet either. Needle choice is very much a personal preference, and opinions vary. There are three main components that I look at in a circular needle: the tip, the join, and the cord. I don’t like needles with a lot of grip, but a poor join slows me down more than a sticky needle, so smooth joins are more important.

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Addi Lace needles; the needle on top shows the tarnish, the needle on the bottom has just been polished with Brasso.

Addi Lace Fixed Circulars are my go-to needles. I started collecting these soon after I learned to knit because the bamboo needles I had started out were too blunt to comfortably knit lace. I LOVED them and still do, although if I had it to do all over again I would buy the Addi Rockets instead, but they weren’t available ten years ago. Addi Lace needles are made of brass, so they tarnish. When I see the finish getting dark I clean them with tarn-X, or polish them with Brasso and the shiny slick surface returns. The tip on the Addi Lace needles is perfectly pointy and tapered, making them ideal for lace knitting, or anything else. The cord is so seamlessly attached to the needle that the join can barely be felt, and the cord has a slight bend in it which helps the needle to curve into a circle. The cords are pliable plastic, which does kink a little in the longer lengths, but relaxes on its own after knitting with it for a while. My single most-used needle size, of which I have several, is the 32 inch US 6, my favorite size for fingering weight shawls and dk weight sweaters, and the perfect length for magic loop.

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Chiaogoo Red Lace

Chiaogoo Red Lace was a needle I really wanted to try, so I have three of these in US size 8 to fill a gap in my Addi collection. I like them a lot, and now I find myself getting excited about Aran or worsted weight yarn because I can use my Chiaogoo needles! The points and the join are very similar to the Addis, although the needles are made of stainless steel rather than brass. What really sets them apart are the red, nylon-coated, multi-strand steel cable cords. the cords have no memory at all, but they are also not as pliable as the Addi cords. This wasn’t a problem until I tried to use a Chiaogoo needle for magic loop, the cord was pulling the knitting apart at the sides and creating ladders. I still like them, but if I have to work a small circumference in the round I’ll use my Addi needle instead. (I have one Addi Lace size 8 now.)

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Knitter’s Pride Karbonz Interchangeables

When I started knitting I bought a set of Boye Interchangeable aluminum circular needles because it seemed like such an economical option. Interchangeable needles are a really smart investment when you are beginning to stock your needle collection, but those horrible aluminum needles were not! Thankfully interchangeable sets have improved over the last few years, and when I read about Knitter’s Pride Karbonz Interchangeable Needles I decided to treat myself to the starter set. The needles are made of carbon fiber with nickel-plated brass tips and ferules, which gives them nicely tapered, reasonably sharp points.The joins are very smooth, although not quite seamless. The cords are flexible plastic which works great for magic loop. A few months after I bought the starter set I purchased the midi set so I would have them in the larger sizes as well. I should have just bought the deluxe set to begin with, which includes sizes 2.5 through 10 (3 to 6 mm) in a pretty case. Buying them separately meant that I had two cases, and I had to buy another case to make them all fit together in one case, but there is still room for more needles in the new case so I can keep adding to my collection by buying the needles individually, plus having a complete set of needles in a neat and portable case is great for traveling.

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Assorted wooden needles

I also have a small collection of wood needles in a pretty Lantern Moon Case. I collected these needles here and there when I could find them on sale. Some of them are from Lantern Moon, others are from a company whose name I don’t remember. I don’t use them much, but the ebony needles are particularly luxurious, so I might pull them out when I’m feeling fancy. The cords are not long enough or flexible enough for magic loop, so I have matching double points to go with them.

That is my entire needle collection! What are your favorite needles? Tell us about them in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

Thank you for knitting!