A question of Knitting hardware

I am going to do it... I am going to ask one of those "can-of-worms" questions..... What are the best needles to knit with? I have my own opinion, and I am sure everyone else on here does.... but is there such a thing as "The ONE best set of needles?"

I started knitting with a set of borrowed 5mm Bamboo Needles . I still have them tucked away somewhere... I call them my "ready for anything" needles and at 5mm they are satisfyingly fat and make any ball of wool quake in fear as it is whipped into the shape I desire. I used these puppies for my first project and they worked a treat and I think they were a good set to start learning with.
I am sure that many of you have used bamboo at some time so you will already know that it is light weight and has a nive "hand feel" while you work with them.
However for any fibre artist that is one the go, and in the modern world who isn't "On-the-Go"?, this static needle set proves impossible to tote around. Well ok, perhaps not impossible but, (as I found out after poking a stranger on the bus with a wayward needle) certainly tricky to tote around. There are only really two options, a big tote bage for the project you are working on, or don't take it with you at all.... neither of these really appealed to me. One I am not about to carry an even bigger bag around with me.... remember I am "On-the-Go"! And if I don't take my projects with me how am I ever going to get them finished?

So there has to be a better option ..... I want to knit "On-the-Go", and not have to take a HUGE bag with me as a payment for the priviledge.... hmmmm.

The someone said get an Interchange set. Now being a new knitter I had to first find out what the heck and interchangeable set was. On to the inter-web to find the answer!

It turns out those clever knitters before me created a set of needle tips that connect to a flexible cable, like this . How clever!.... I could knit like it was two free needles but when I was done.... or I had to get back "On-the-Go", I could fold these into the project and roll it up into and neat easy to carry bundle.
Problem solved!

Wait! Apparently, according to a knitting buddy, I could also knit "on the round"... ah what?! Back to the inter-web for the answer!

So by attaching a needle to both ends of the same cable I can knit round in circles, or flat .... and if I am going round I get no joins and less finishing? I like the sound of that. So now I am dedicated to my interchangable set... I think it is the best set for the widest range of knitting .... I use it for everything I knit now.... what about you?

So my question for you is.... What knitting hardware did you learn to knit with, and What do you use for your knitting now?


canie's picture

well i like kst of us here have many set but still Aida turbo seem to be the best for me

I love my Addi turbos for circular knitting, but I also love my River John birch needles. I must admit I don't particularly like bamboo needles.

WillyG's picture

I learned on crappy metal straight needles. Now I'm a big fan of knitting "in the round" on my Addi turbos...I've stopped worrying about lengths, and just get 40-inch needles in each size; the magic loop or some variant thereof gives me the flexibility I need. I love not having to worry about losing one of the needles. An exception to the 40" needle is a hat-sized circular...it's wonderful to go round and round and round without any fuss.

On the other side of the coin, however, I don't think that there is a definitive needle. I'm just dipping my toes into the strange waters of lace, and I just read that slippery metal needles are a form of suicide...hence the need for wooden/bamboo circs. Makes sense to me, though the pros would have to add their two cents. There's also the advantage of the pointier tips when knitting lace. Different types of projects call for different needles, I guess. Speed knitting, like my hat marathon last year, loves the Addis. And just recently, a wonderfully persuasive knitting guru revealed to me the value of those ridiculously long needles I first learned on: she says that the production knitters or whatever they were called (in factories or whatnot) would tuck the right needle into their armpits, freeing their right hand for throwing and thus making for a very efficient knitting process.

One other personal preference...I have considered the value of an interchangeable system, like the Addi Click, but then I take a deep breath and remember that one cord of a few lengths just doesn't cut it for a person who has a multiple knitting personality disorder. I like to have a whole pile of projects going at once, and I usually pick one or two to take with me, depending on mood, portability, and appropriateness for where I will be. For instance, I like to knit *wherever* I go, and sometimes I don't want certain people to see what I'm knitting (like the birthday shawl I'm getting ready to finish up for me mother). I couldn't do this if I only had one 40" cord (Shawl, several pairs of socks, etc). And I can't stand the thought of running into a blockade on a project while I'm riding the bus for several hours and not having a backup project to work until I get help for the first one. There have been times when I would ride the bus to the city to purchase yarn, and I would get so excited I would like to try it out...again I need the needles free. My alternate solution to the interchangeable system is that I am trying to have a friend make a wallet for my circulars needles. It can't be *that* bulky. But then again, I won't tell you how many bags I have with me right now. ;)

HuskerChub's picture

Would not be caught dead knitting with anything but an Addi Turbo or Addi Lace needle. Can't stand most wood or bamboo needles as they are too grabby and the finish never slick enough for me.

vsidart's picture

Addi Addi Addi Yay!

Crafty Andy's picture

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I say that each project has different needles. I mean I don't particularly like to knit wool with plastic needles, or that the fact that I enjoy making hats on the round rather than flat makes a choice of needles different. I say you will have your choices and from your choices you will make the selections. Addi turbos are fantastic if you like speed, they are beautiful to look at and you get what you paid for. Straight needles I have a pair of Crystal Palace that I love, there are also pairs of needles I own that I do not use at all, they are just a collector's item that I had ordered, they are Harry Potter . DPNS I like harmonies, but I prefer rosewood as the richness of the wood is amazing when you have them in your hands. So I will say everything has a place in this world, I even have a favorite metal set of needles covered with some kind of pink plastic that I adore how they knit .

The quiet one here has to chime in on this one. I am all about the Knit Picks Harmonies. I love the slick finish on them and are great for lace knitting as well as any other project. I have their Options set as well. With that said, I also have to comment on my Addi turbo's. I own every imaginable size and length as well as some of the lace needles. As for double points, I am all over the board on that one. Knit Picks metal, Harmonies, Addi's, Brittany, and Lantern Moon. As for straights, well they collect dust, but I have the rosewood collection, and Brittany's which I do use from time to time. About the only time I use them is for a scarf or swatch testing. By far for lace knitting, the Harmonies are my first choice.

NonStopAndrew's picture

I like many others, learned on terrible metal needles, with terrible acrylic yarn. Thankfully I found my LYS, and found proper needles and real fibers. As for needles, my Addi's are my best friend. I love bamboo for my DPN's and my straights, but I have never liked bamboo tipped circulars. Don't know why.

Crafty Andy's picture

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I have to agree with you about bamboo tipped circulars, there is a weirdness about them. The harmony circulars do not have that feeling to them!

rmbm612's picture

I'll add my 2 cents worth to this discussion. I learned to knit 50 years ago when about the only choice for knitting needles was straight single pointed hollow metal or plastic needles and the length was 12- 14 inches. I have been knitting in earnest the past 35 years and have replaced those metal needles with circulars. I seriously have a fortune invested in Addi- turbo circular needles from size 0 to 17 (US) and from US 3 to US 13 in cable length from 16", 24", 32", 40" and 60". And now I have several pair of Addi Turbo Lace circulars.
Here in the US with the dollar weak and the Euro strong those Turbo circular needle prices have become expensive. The advantage to circular needles is their versatility. With circulars you can knit flat pieces back and forth like using single pointed needle, tubular pieces like socks, sleeves, stocking hats, or the body of a sweater, or circular items like shawls, doilies, or circular blankets. I rarely knit jumpers in 4 pieces and sew them together and with circular needles and knitting in the round one can avoid that nasty task.
Another advantage of circular needles deals with ergonomics. When using straight needles, especially when knitting larger sweater pieces, the weight of the project is on the left hand needle and gradually is knitted to the right. This becomes fatiguing to the arms and wrist as the project enlarges. With circular needles the weigh is more evenly distributed between the left and right needles and the bulk of the knitted item's weight is supported in the lap.
Now someone mentioned long metal double pointed needles used in production knitting. The only outlet that I know of is SchoolHousePress.com run by Meg Swanson the daughter of Elizabeth Zimmerman. Those metal needles are 16" long and are sold in sets of 4 needles in only three sizes. And to be used efficiently require either a knitting belt(a leather pouch with stuffing and lots of holes punched into it where the point of the right hand needle is supported) or a traditional knitting stick( same ideal only a carved piece of wood that you tuck under your belt and use the hole in the stick to support the right hand needle.)
And the last advantage and its a big one for those of us you travel with knitting projects on planes, trains, and automobiles, is that one can knit comfortable in tight places without endangering those in close proximity to the knitter.
I promise this is coming to an end! I purchased from KnitPicks.com, when they were first offered, their version of the Addi Turbo circulars. I bought the starter set.......needles that can be interchanged with cables. Since i knit many lace items I wanted to try these needles because of the pointed end of the needles. I really like them and the cable between the needles is extremely flexible. More flexible than the Addi Turbo with less memory. And KnitPicks has added a colored Ash Wood Needle to the line. I really like using the wooden needles too. And of course I just had to purchase the set. Look them up on the KnitPicks.com webpage and read about them. The site has great video tutorials, great yarn, accessories, and even better pricing.
Whew! More information than you wanted or needed? My recommendation: buy circulars and forget about the straight single pointed needles. If I were to do it over again........I'd buy KnitPicks' circular needles in a set in metal and wood. BTW, the worlds fastest knitter endorses the Harmony needles and there is a video of her knitting with them.
Hope this helps and give you some resources to investigate before making a decision. Best of luck to you.
Bill from Minneapolis, Minnesota

ksmarguy's picture

I agree. I use Addi for almost EVERYTHING except the rare time that I have them all in use and want to do a small project, then I will pull out a pair of bamboo. I knit my first sweater on bamboo and the second on addis and I cannot tell you the difference it made; and when you are happy with how the tools perform you will be happier doing the project. If cost is an issue, go to your local LYS (If you have one). Most of the time they will let you try a set out at the store. In my LYS, they have a sample of all the different types so that yo can try them out and try them out one after the other which makes a HUGE difference. Ultimately, though, pick the ones that feel RIGHT to you.

eyedoc's picture

I love my KnitPicks Harmony needles, both straight and circulars. I much prefer wooden needles over metal ones. The Harmony collection from KnitPicks is great... they are very sturdy and very smooth. I have some bamboo needles but I tend to knit very tightly and they tend to get grooves in them near the tips where one needle is grinding against the other one. I have not found this to be a problem with the Harmony needles and I have used them many, many times.

trpc's picture

Addi's are great, but I knit on Lantern Moon wooden needles if the project allows.

Buzzboy's picture

I learned on the metal needles of years ago. They could be a little cumbersome at times. A few months ago a friend asked me if I had ever tried circular and I told her no. She had me use bamboo and I love them. After a while I bought a interchangeable set of Denise needles and I really love them. I'm sure we all have our own opinions and I am very happy with the ones I knit with.


Tallguy's picture

Which needles are the best?

There's no need to even ask such a thing! Whithout doubt, the interchangeable circulars are the best, from Knitpicks for sure, maybe the Addis.... and in the longest length. Most versatile. No need for anything else, really, when you get down to it. And they pack up in a very neat little pouch. What more does a guy want??

mrossnyc's picture

I use metal (Addis) and bamboo (Clover, Crystal Palace) depending upon the yarn and how the fiber moves on the needle. If it's dragging on the bamboo, I'll use metal. But, for double pointed needles, I only use bamboo. When knitting a garment that would have to be pieced together, I will modify the pattern so that it's done in the round. I recently finished a sweater where I didn't do this and still have half of it to sew together. Learn circular knitting and learn steeks to minimize flat knitting in a sweater.

Nashrunner's picture

I have some of everything, including some vintage acrylic needles from yard sales, some cheesy aluminum in colors from the 60's, some bamboo, some nice rosewood, some really nice grenadilla wood, etc. If the yarn doesn't "grab" at them too much and I have the right size I really like the nice wooden ones. They just feel good in my hands. I have some straight ("merrily forward") some DP's and some circulars in wood. Next favorite is bamboo. If the yarn is grabbing, my collection of metal Inox's are great for sliding off "sticky" yarn. I guess everybody learns what they like after a little experience. Bottom line, as with life, you need to experiment!

BuduR's picture

I like my addi turbos for knitting wool socks, I have my knit picks set for most things done with wool, but for slicker yarns like silk, I prefer my bambo needles because I dont' drop so many stitches. I just keep around some 800 grit sand paper if they get a bit too grabby.

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etramblings's picture

I ADORE my Knit Picks Harmony wood needles!! Not only do they have a super slick finish, the swirling colors make me happy while I am knitting with them. Strange perhaps, but the needles themselves calm me even more than knitting in itself does.

That being said, I learned to knit on Clover bamboo needles and do enjoy them for lots of projects as well. However sometimes the yarn dictates that I need a different surface to surface, so I have some acrylic, some metal, and yes a couple pair of Addis. Addis really are fabulous also.

As far as straight or circular... I really prefer circular, even on those projects knitted straight. It takes the weight off my hands and wrists.

I have learned to, for the most part, let the yarn dictate which material the needles will be.

Hope this helps!

Biko's picture

I LOVE my Addi Turbo's like a best mate. Slick, smooth, quick, and light - great all rounders.
I'm also a fan of casein needles - dunno if you guys have them in the States? It's a plastic made from milk protein, and the needles? They do some wierd anti-static thing so the yarn just glides really nicely up and down... Too slippery yarns though will just fall suddenly right off.
I'm going out on a limb here... am I the only guy who although likes the warmth/feel of wood in my hands, but keeps getting snagged?
But as many others have also posted, which is best? "It depends..." different yarns, different projects; best thing is to experiment with whatever comes to hand and if it feels good, go with it.

MMario's picture

I don't remember what I learned to knit on, other then that they were straight needles. I don't even remember if they were wood, plastic or metal. probably plastic, though they might have been metal. It was back in the dim dark ages....

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Jerry Moore's picture

I learned on plastic straights. Then, within months, discovered circs and dpns. I have a large collection of most sizes of straight needles for which I have but a single use: I snip the back end off the straight metal needles, bend what's left into a "U" and use it to hold down a water hose in outdoor potted plants. I keep the straight wood needles because they're pretty (now watch the jokes tumble forth!)

I use circular needles almost exclusively (for knitting, not for watering.) Addi Turbos have the best/smoothest needle-to-cable transition I've found (very important to speed and to me.) However, bamboos and some of the woodies give yarn something to hold onto, thereby helping me avoid the heartbreak of loop slip-off. Needle/cable transition smoothness varies by wood/bamboo brand. I've not yet laid finger to the cables with snap-on ends in an assortment of sizes. The mechanical engineer in me says it's unlikely that the snap-ons have smooth needle/cable joints. But then, the engineer in me often has been wrong.

Best wishes and good prices.

Regards, Jerry