Tools of the Trade: Knitting Needles


Photo Copyright ©2012, Deborah J. Wunder

Like most knitters, I have, over the years, accumulated a fairly impressive stash of knitting needles.

I have a ton of old-fashioned straight aluminum & steel needles in two lengths, an original Boye Needlemaster set, my Mom’s ancient (from the 1940’s) set in a red plastic case, bamboo straight needles, a set o French straight plastic needles with spring steel cores, a set of French plastic double-pointed needles with spring steel cores, aluminum circular needles in varying lengths and sizes, plastic circular needles in varying shapes and sizes, a few bamboo circular needles, various sets of double pointed needles in aluminum (including one from the 1950s from England), and Goddess only knows how many odd sets of needles of one kind or another.  We won’t even go into the crochet hooks, or I’d be here all night.

As any knitter or crocheter knows, these needles do accumulate.  Sometimes, you inherit a loved one’s needles; sometimes you need another pair in a particular size because the pair you have is already in use; sometimes a new thing catches your eye and you want to try it (casein needles, anyone?  Square aluminum needles?).

Every so often, I look at the drawerful of needles, the vase on my desk full of straight needles, and the jarful of crochet hooks, and contemplate thinning them out.  But how can I choose?  Each set or pair has a ton of memories attached to it, because they have all been well-used.

Even the oddities — the afghan hook, the hairpin lace pins, the lucet — have had their day in the sun.    I have not yet succumbed to the new Leisure Arts Knook, however.  Opinion on it seems very divided — the crocheters love it, the knitters don’t.  And since money is tight, and I both knit and crochet, I am not feeling greatly impelled to buy one.

The needles I currently find myself using most of the time are my circulars.  I have been knitting mostly socks over the last two years, and I magic loop, so I have two pairs of 00’s in the 24-inch length, and two in the 32″ length.  All our sets are Addi Turbos.  I love the action (they are nice, fast needles).  One day, I would love to own the whole Addi line.

So, tonight’s request is:  Tell me about your needle stash!  Did you buy the majority of your needles?  Inherit them?  Buy sets or individual needle pairs?  What needles do you use most often these days?


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. luxshine
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 00:40:53

    Hey Deb,

    Well, unfortunately, by the time you taught me to knit my grandma’s knitting needles were lost in space. But I still have and use the circular pair that you gave me.
    Other than that, two years ago I bought a set from knit pro of circular modular plastic needles from 4 to 7, which I adore to bits since they’re good for almost everything even if I’m not that big of a fan of plastic needles.

    I’ve also bought a couple of double pointed needles for socks, as the magic loop and I are not in speaking terms.

    For some reason, lately I’ve been knitting a lot with fingering yarn, so I also have a full set of 0 needles (In Mexico you can’t find 00 needles), two circulars in aluminium, five double pointed, and two straight… which are also my only straight needles too.


    • otherdeb
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 01:23:00

      Heya Adalisa! Glad to hear that the knitting bug took! So you are beginning to acquire a respectable stash of needles ! I use a lot of fingering, sock, and baby yarn, as well as a lot of laceweight, so the bulk of my newer needles are either 0s or 00s. If you want 00s, I could tell you where to order them, since I don’t think I can send them directly through the mail. Still, I’m glad to see you are still knitting.

      Have you put any new pics on Ravelry lately?


      • luxshine
        Oct 03, 2012 @ 01:36:56

        Hey, it took. Really took. Right now I’ve got like five projects in my needles and every single christmas present planned for my family so I’ve got to start knitting those so I’ll have time to finish and I always carry a project in my bag for those empty minutes when I’m going to my work or in the subway 🙂 So yes, thanks so much 🙂

        Aurea is going to Florida soonish, so I’m ordering some 00’s from Knit pro, as well as a Yarn Ball Winder since I started doing a lot of short rows work and I need smaller balls to carry with me, and she can bring them to me 🙂

        I haven’t put new pics on Ravelry yet as I got into sort of a disagreement with one of the knitting teachers so I’ve been laying low. But I’ll probably upload some to tumblr today or tomorrow morning.

      • otherdeb
        Oct 06, 2012 @ 01:07:23

        Wow! I’m impressed with your productivity and ambition! Sadly, my knitting mojo seems to be on vacation at the moment, but when I do get back to it, I have a ton o projects planned.

      • luxshine
        Oct 06, 2012 @ 01:33:29

        Well, Deb, what can I say. Sometimes I’ve got more projects than time, and I’ve got a stash that is starting to look daunting (I really, REALLY, have to stop looking at yarn sales when I’m out walking), but it’s fun. Also, well, it helps for other things. I’ve gotten a couple of commissions from people to knit baby hats and small bags for rpg dices, so… it also helps.

      • otherdeb
        Oct 06, 2012 @ 02:52:23

        Yeah, I know that one…I currently have two pairs of socks on the needles, two more due, and a pair of fingerless mitts to do next. And my stash has grown since you were here. I now have a huge tub of yarn, and the two-shelf cabinet by my bed (the one with the glass fronts) is filled with yarn. And those are in addition to the bags of yarn behind the boxes in the living room.

        I’m at the point where I only buy yarn if I get a commission and don’t have the yarn for it on hand.

  2. Terri Wells
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 13:18:19

    I have a full set of Boye’s crochet hooks in the pouch (kind of like the Needlemaster for crocheters), a full set of Denise Interchangeable crochet hooks (with cables; great for Tunisian and knooking), a basic beginner’s set of the Leisure Arts knooks, a few random afghan hooks, LOTS of random floating hooks in sizes from steel 16 (yes, you can get them that small, but they’re a special order) all the way up to…hmmm. I think my largest is a Q hook. I also picked up a bunch of straight knitting needles from my local thrift store — still in their soft plastic display envelopes, which also work well for storing them. I think the majority are Bernat, and plastic, but I do have a few aluminum ones. I also have one size 50 knitting needle for when I get around to doing broomstick lace.

    I admit, I still haven’t used the knitting needles for their intended purpose; as a crocheter, I took to knooking and haven’t looked back yet. I might use a set to make myself a hairpin lace loom, though, when I get around to learning it.

    I keep thinking about trying out some of the more ergonomic crochet hooks. I can still crochet for hours with no serious issues, but I don’t know how long that will continue to be true.


    • otherdeb
      Oct 04, 2012 @ 21:17:38

      Hi Terri! Thank you or confirming my suspicion that the new knooks are pretty much fancy afghan hooks!

      My largest crochet hook is a “P”, and I, too have hooks that run very fine — I had an old Leewards steel set that ran from 0 to 14; it’s still around somewhere among my unpacked boxes. My broomstick lace knitting needle is a size 35 that was originally my mom’s. I am not familiar, however, with the Denise interchangeable crochet hooks; will have to add those to my wish list.

      Thrift stores are great places or picking up old hooks and needles.

      If you do get to try the ergonomic crochet hooks, please do let me know how their action is. I am always interested in keeping repetitive stress injuries at bay!

      For me, one of the things I love about my old needles is the stories that come with them. My aluminum straights and my Boye hooks were not only my mom’s, they were the needles I learned to knit and crochet on — and hold memories of my parents letting me work way past a mistake, then making me rip back to correct it (I learned quickly how to not make the basic mistakes that beginning knitters/crocheters make). While I am sure I grumbled at the time, from my vantage point of over 50 years away, these are treasured memories. So are my English steel needles with the red caps that a British ex-boyfriend sent home for when he found out I knitted. The British double-pointed needles that were my moms and the British bone needle size gauge she owned were from before my time; they were originally my dad’s and used while he was in service in Southeast Asia during the Korean War. (I used them, in turn, to knit socks for the Seamen’s Church Institute’s Christmas at Sea program.) All these wonderful stories that are part of my heritage! They give me a feeling of continuity with those knitters who came before me, and something to leave to those who will come after me.

      Wow, didn’t mean to go off on such a tangent! At any event, it’s great to hear from you, and to find one more thing we have in common!


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