Taking my own advice


You know, sometimes I talk all knowingly about how there isn't one right needle and you should swatch and blah blah blah, but you know what? I love metal needles. I use them almost exclusively. I like that they are smooth and fast and many have sharp little points. It's all about efficiency to me. Wood needles seem slow and plodding to me, like swimming in molasses. Plastic needles range, but are often just too grippy for my taste and certain brands are all wobbly bendy.

But you know what? I've been hating this sleeve I'm working on for a particular pattern. It's lace, worked in the round, on a small circumference. The lace requires working 3 stitches together, and every other row, those three stitches shift, which means that stitches have to be moved between needles. Worse, it's laceweight black yarn worked on big ol' needles.


I tried two circulars, but the problem with this method is that it's nearly impossible to move stitches back and forth between needles at such a tight circumference. One, essentially, has to use a cable needle or spare DPN. Talk about inefficient.

So then I moved to some metal DPNs. I'm sure there'll be gasps of disgust but I have absolutely no issues knitting with Susan Bates DPNs. The really small ones are a bit bendy, but anything above a US#1 seems to work fine and they come in pretty colors. Who could complain? Unfortunately, working with laceweight yarn and these heavy needles was almost as bad as the 2-circs. The weight of the needles was so great that I couldn't maintain a comfortable tension on the yarn. This got even worse between needles, forcing me to maintain a constant death grip on the yarn while also fearing that the needles would make a run for it. I finally had to admit it, I was using the wrong needle. I'm a stubborn woman.

I went over to the local craft store, picked up some cheapo bamboo needles, and it's been smooth sailing since. The wood's grippiness keeps all the needles in place and the weight is light enough that the thread isn't pulled from my fingers as I work. I'm not a convert, I'm just reminded that sometimes I have to step out of my perceived comfort zone.

And since my 1970s ripple afghan has received so much attention, here she is again, albeit a bit rumpled. Oh, there are also a couple of dogs next to her.


Thea seems to think she's a cat.


i used to prefer bamboo DPNs because of the grippiness as well, but they tend to warp and i can't tell you how many i've broken. now i prefer to use metal DPNs for socks and smaller projects (US size 4 needles and smaller). i've tried inox, addi, and knitpicks and like them all!

I have to admit I don't like wood DPNs. I manage to break them with surprising frequency, I think because of the way I hold them. But I love wood straights and would really like to replace my metal interchangeable circs with wood ones. I've been looking at the Harmony Wood set on Knit Picks. But in the end it's all about what works for you. Congrats on stepping out of the box.

i, too, am abig fan of metal needles. antique straights, with the metal buttons on the end. i do have to admit, though, that unless it's a sock, i tend to prefer wood dpn's, though. for the very reason why you've bought bamboos. i'm an incredibly loose knitter, and if i get any more than 20 stitches on a metal needle, they tend to slide atrociously.

when do we get to see what you'reknitting?

You have the cutest pups on the face of the earth, your blanket looks great & I can't wait to see what your sleeve morphs into ;D

I'm a metal needle knitter too, but only for certain fibers. Some just need wood.

My only Susan Bates complaint is that the dpns are sold in packs of four. Not exactly ideal for socks, but the end of the world, either.

I'm glad you found needles that are working for you and the sleeve.

Thea! Woody sits on the couch the same way you do. Fetching.

Metal DPNs are the reason I frogged my first sock ever -- I was past the heel but I kept having the needles try to slide out of the stitches and I just found it too troublesome to keep going. Now, I working on wooden ones and I am discovering the appeal of sock knitting.

There is Thea looking at the world from her own angle again!

Okay. I know you wrote something there, but I still cannot take my eyes of that afghan.

Is it acrylic? Wool? Please do tell. I'm all over it.

I've always been perfectly happy with the Susan Bates DPNs. The colors helped me keep track of the sizes.
I've avoided the bamboo DPNs. I know I'd just break them. It seems cruel to buy them...

Love the way Panda sits. We learned a lot about DPNs and choice of needles, especially the slippery sorts for lace. Thanks for sharing, we'll tell Mum to read this later.

Well, the main thing is that you found needles that are working for you and this project! I mean, that's really all that matters. :)

I believe bamboos have their place. Maybe it's slower going, but it's works for what your doing.
HAHA Cute. My dogs think stuffed animals are puppies and kiss them on the head. Thea's more imaginative.

I have to admit that, although for most uses I prefer metal circs, for DPN's I hate metal needles (altho I am also fond of the multi colors, they are actually my least favorites to use as far as feel goes). I also hate wood DPN's because I seem to break them with alarming frequency. I love the bamboo ones - Crystal Palace are my favorites & have never had one break. I knit socks more than anything & my favorite size is 2.5 mm but they are not easy to find since I also like the longer (8") DPN's & CP has stopped making them. So I have also used the plastic Pony Pearls which do come in a 2.5mm & am surprisingly fond of them (I did not expect to like them because I generally do not like plastic). They are not at all bendy & have blunt points - useful for splitty yarn.

Hey girlie, I too am totally okay with my ghetto susan bates. I only use wood needles when I need the grip of wood dpns (for socks mostly). The rest of the time I am all about metal and plastic (Denise preferably). That goes for hooks too. I figure, I've been knitting and crocheting for 32 years. I'm used to the junkier stuff! LOL

Dude. Knitting a shifting lace pattern (1) in the round (2) on tiny needles (3) in black yarn (4)? This is one pattern I can't wait to see.

I'm a fan of metal dpns and regular straight needles, too. In fact, I only have one pair of bamboo needles and they are warped. I also have one pair of plastic needles (for the airlines, just in case I have to give them up) and I avoid using both pairs whenever possible.

I wish I had more dpns, but here in Lima, it's almost impossible to find anything smaller than US size 6 made of wooden dowel pins stuck in a pencil sharpener.

Next year, for my birthday, I'm promising myself that I'll mail order some dpns...in metal, all metal.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Marnie published on December 10, 2008 5:52 AM.

It's a hard knock life, for us was the previous entry in this blog.

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