A couple of weeks ago I held a little refresher knitting class for the women of our village. Some brought their own knitting needles, others borrowed some of mine. One experienced knitter who had already made a Hitchhiker before I even moved here, wanted to try lace knitting for the very first time. After a couple of rows she was determined that she was just “not talented enough” for this kind of project because she just could not manage the decreases. Imagine her surprise when I handed her a pair of my needles that were slightly sharper than hers, and suddenly the rows were just flying. After a while, she had a beautifully perfect little piece of knitting in her hands and just could not believe it. What we learn from this episode is: It’s not you, it’s your tools. Ever tried to cut a piece of wood with a bread knife? Or tried to drill a hole in a brick wall with a corkscrew? Right. You need a proper saw and a good drill. Those do cost money, yes. Nice sharp knitting needles may be a little more expensive than the bargain ones, but for some projects the plain ones just will not do. A simple “knit 3 together” is usually too much for blunt needles. Moreover, most simple circular needles are kinked – so if you are trying to knit a pair of socks using the “Magic Loop” technique with those, you are probably going to be quite frustrated, blaming either the technique or yourself and experience the opposite of the pleasant experience knitting is supposed to be. All because of a tool that is not fit for the job!
These are rather blunt…
So in my view, it is totally worth it to go on a search for the right needles. They should not only be technically appropriate for the type of project you are planning – more importantly, the knitter (you!) should like them. They must feel good when you hold them in your hands, and ideally they should also please the eye. There are ones made of bamboo, square ones, acrylic ones with glitter or beautifully colored wooden ones. There are lots of choices and it’s awesome when you have found the needles that make knitting fun for you. I personally like non-kinked nickel-plated circulars with sharp points. They are my go-to needles for everyday knitting. When I need bigger needles, I prefer those made of wood, but also with fairly sharp tips. I would not use thin wooden needles because I tend to be rough on them and I fear they might break. And for socks I use circulars made of stainless steel because they come in very small sizes and do not bend. Depending on the project I can choose whether I would like some sleek metal circulars or warm wooden needles. For air travel I usually pack very simple metal needles that I would be fine to part with if security decides I have to, or wooden interchangeables that are usually not a problem because they look like pencils in the x-ray machines. My knitting toolbox contains a number of qualities in all sizes so I am prepared for whatever project crosses my way – and I hope that many will!