Match your yarn to your needles

I don’t mean by color. In fact, it’s helpful to have a contrasting color needle so you can see your stitches! Although I do remember the time I knit a black tank top on ebony needles. Good thing I knit mostly by feel.

When I was at Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat, I took a class from my friend Carson Demers, author of Knitting Comfortably. Carson is a physical therapist, and specializes in ergonomics. One tip he gave was this: If your yarn is slippery, you might want to choose a grippier needle so you’re not fighting for control. I do love my HiyaHiya stainless steel needles for most knitting, but this skinny Schmutzerella Spectacular superwash was a bit challenging on them. I was more comfortable using my Knitters Pride Ginger wooden needles for this project.

In this picture, I’m moving my knitting off my metal needles back onto my wooden needles. I do love both kinds of needles, depending on the project. I had been using the metal needle as a stitch holder so I could borrow the wooden one for something else.

I’m not saying you should never use metal needles with superwash; I don’t usually have an issue with them. It may depend on your yarn content, or yarn size. Choose what is comfortable for you while you’re swatching (or starting over because you’re not comfortable…) PS: Don’t change needles mid-project; that can change your gauge!

Do you have a favorite type of needle? Or does it depend? What are you knitting with right now?

13 responses to “Match your yarn to your needles

  1. The one time I do change mid project: if my hands hurt! I’d rather deal with some gauge changes than risk injuring myself. Taking it slow with lots of breaks works for some people, but experience tells me switching is safer for me!

    • And you know yourself best! I did have repetitive stress injuries last summer (hello, should have been taking breaks but I was reading while knitting), and I’d like to prevent having that ever happening again. OUCH.

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  2. I just got the new Lykke Blush interchangeables in the short needles; I love them! I was afraid the short needles would make my (old, arthritic) fingers hurt but no such thing. These needles are very smooth. The pink is easy on the eyes and since I almost never knit with pink yarn it makes seeing my stitches easy. Sorry for the commercial; I also knit with Hiya Hiyas in both metal and bamboo, and the same with other Lykkes and Chiaogoos, depends on how pointy a needle I want. But the Blush ones are new so you know.

  3. Appreciate your comments and enjoy your excursions. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I like your thoughts on needles- I usually start with how pointy I need the needle to be, so consider weight and content. My go-tos are Addi Rockets (interchangeable) but I also use the Knitters Pride carbon (nice point) and some Chiagoos/HiyaHiyas. Currently I’m using a Plucky Knitter merino fingering which feels heavy for a fingering weight and the Addi’s are OK.

    • I’m so glad we have lots of options to choose from. I have a set of HiyaHiya stainless interchangeables, and a set of HiyaHiya stainless sharps, but I think I may want to have more wooden needles, too.

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  5. ChiaoGoo Metal Red cord… for everything… unless I can’t get to the size/length I need for a quick project; then my KnitPicks or AddiTurbos fill in. For skinny flat projects like scarves I often use inexpensive Bamboo sticks; everything else is on circulars. I rarely have an issue regardless of chosen yarn but I do have some wood circulars in the sizes I use most often when I do. I always reach for my ChiaoGoo first: the best features of my former favorites: first needles were AddiTurbo, then I switched to KnitPicks Options/fixed in small sizes.

  6. I love Knitter’s Pride Karbonz – they are a little grippier than metal, but not too much. And they are much easier on my hands than metal.

    • I think I looked at the Karbonz once, but they weren’t quite pointy enough for me. But that was a long time ago. The more I think about it, the more I think I’m in the market for a set of needles that aren’t metal, just to expand my options! Knit Picks? Knitters Pride? The newly re-launched Lantern Moon? Hmmmm.

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      • So many options! I think the pointiest needles I ever had were some Signatures that I got with the stiletto point. They were super sharp and fast to knit with. But the metal just killed my hands.

  7. I love the look of wooden needles (the way the laminated waves look as they move through the yarn is mesmerizing), but I just don’t enjoy knitting with them. I like my needles as slick as possible pretty much no matter what I’m knitting — I’ve yet to encounter a yarn slippery enough to make me wish I were using something grippier!

    I do also like them nice and pointy. Recently got a few sets of ChiaGoos, and they are quite delightful.