Different size needles at the same time

I just read in this posting (http://www.menwhoknit.com/community/?q=node/11214) by drumpointer:

Does anyone else do this? It appears on the surface to be a sound idea but I wonder if it changes the guage in any way. I'm keen for any comments on this.


Bill's picture

Can't read that address...but I sometimes use a smaller needle on one end, when my purl row is looser than my knit row...works well using circs for flat knitting.

Tallguy's picture

I couldn't read that article so don't know quite what you were referring to. But did you mean that you use different sizes on either end of a circular needle??

Oh, sure, of course, certainly!! There are certain patterns that call for it, and you do get a nice interesting effect. Some people do have a different gauge knitting and purling, so a different sized needle might just do the trick for them.

But you know, the only important factor when knitting is the ACTIVE right hand needle. The one on the left can be any other size. So with the interchangeable needles, you put your correct size on two different circulars, put anything smaller on the other end (or even a stopper), and you can handle them just like two straight (sort of) needles. Why? Because sometimes you need the extra room for the stitches.... and with 40" cables, that is something you will never find in straight needles! And you don't have to buy two sets of circs when one will do.

Anyway, if there is a way to do something, someone will find a reason for doing it.

kiwiknitter's picture

I don't know why the link doesn't work for others as it works for me. Must be a bug in the system. Anyway, here is the text of the posting:

>What I like most about using interchangeable sets is that I knit in the round whenever I can. I always place a smaller needle for the left hand needle and the "gauge" needle on the right. Does anyone else do this? There is no reason to have the correct size needle on the left as all it does is "offer" the stitches to the right needle. As long as it is smaller than the right needle the stitches slide smoothly and are not stretched. It also makes it easier to do twist stitches and other finnicky operations.

So, now that you know, do you think this will alter guage at all? It sounds promising for moving stitches along more quickly.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Bill's picture

I've read many posts from people who do this...and it seems to work.
I've done it when I had to frog and pick up a long row...I use a very small needle to pick up...then knit with the appropriate tip on the right needle end.

Tallguy's picture

Yes, exactly -- that is what I said. There is no reason for you to have a needle the same size on the left side... it is only there to hold the needles. A smaller needle actually makes it a whole lot easier to make your new stitches, as you may have noticed, when you started out and were knitting with too much tension. Especially helpful if you have a lot of unsual manoeuvresto make, such as K3tog, or p2togtbl or some other such awkward stitches requiring you to contort into strange positions. With stitches on smaller needles, they are easier to form.

It is the RIGHT hand needle that forms the stitch, and it is most important when trying to get gauge. What you do with the stitch 2-3 stitches later has no bearing on the size of that stitch at all -- it is already formed, and it will stay that way. That is why the cable on a circ is smaller than the needle size... because it really doesn't matter anymore.

So if you lose one end of a needle, not to worry. As long as you have the correct size on the "working end", that is all that is important. Try it. You'll see.

rc_in_sd's picture

I use this technique all the time with my interchangeable needles. I knit pretty snugly, and having a little slack on the left stitches makes them slide more comfortably for me. To be honest, I haven't checked my gauge with this technique versus using same sized needles. If you want to do this with a project, I'd suggest swatching using this technique.

To go on a tangent, I find the three needle bind-off much easier if the left hand stitches are on smaller needles, so I always switch my left tips to a smaller size before doing this.

Bill's picture

"I find the three needle bind-off much easier if the left hand stitches are on smaller needles,"
That's a GREAT tip!!!

ronhuber's picture

Thank you. A great tip and it makes so much sense!!

rmbm612's picture

I wouldn't bother with switching your technique. You knit beautifully. I wouldn't like taking the time to switch needles.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I'll have to remember the slightly smaller needles for 3 needle bind off. I sometimes go up a couple of sizes when I want to ensure a loose regular bind off, so it makes sense to do the opposite for a snug and even edge. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.