I'm not sure just how many of you readers are knitters, but I most certainly am! I love to knit, and to talk about it, and to think about it, and to read about it, and, of course, to write about it.
Some of my favorite things to see and read about on other people's blogs are their work spaces. I always feel like I can learn a lot and find a lot of inspiration from these glimpses. Today I thought I'd share a bit of my space with you.
Every knitter develops strong opinions about knitting needles; I am no exception. If I can choose, I prefer to work with wooden needles--bamboo or some other, harder wood--because they are warm and quiet and beautiful. I always feel like I'm making something really special when I'm using wood needles. There are some gorgeous old ones to be found in thrift stores and at flea markets, and they provide the additional thrill of the past--who did they belong to? what sorts of knitted items grew from the needles? where did they go and what did they see? The main trouble with wooden needles is that they tend to be the most expensive. That said, if I'm going to be knitting a sweater for a month or two, I like to spend those weeks and weeks working with needles that will enhance, rather than compromise, my enjoyment of the experience.
My brother is a professional ship builder who has always made incredible gifts for me and the family, and he has made me several amazing pairs of wooden knitting needles. He designed them with intricately carved or laminated elements; when I work with those needles, I find myself slowing down each stitch to make the process take as long as possible.
Most of the needles I find in thrift stores are metal ones, and there is something to be said for the ten-cent pair of knitting needles that turn out to be just the size I needed. These needles are often several decades old and can come in rad colors. I like to see the different colors, sort of Easter-egg-like, smiling blissfully from the paint can. I highly recommend snatching up any cheap bundles of secondhand knitting needles that you are able to find; one can never have too many, and having extras also means you can give them away to new knitters. Now we come to the question of needle type: straight, circular, or double-pointed? My answer: all of the above. In other words, it depends entirely on the project. I like to have all of them, and in as many sizes and lengths as possible. (Or really, in more sizes and lengths than are probably financially possible...) I think my most frequently-used needles are probably as follows:
- 16" circular needle, sizes 6 and 8: I use these all the time. They are just right for knitting hats (up until the decreases) and sleeves (up near the underarm), but also random projects like pillows, cowls, bags, and so forth. Anything that you can knit with straight needles, you can knit with circular, so if you must choose between the two, go with circular. As a devout EZ (Elizabeth Zimmerman) knitter, I appreciate the freedom and sense of control that circular needles provide when working color patterns and lace patterns and even plain old solid-colored stockinette stitch. I also believe that the ideal beginner project is a hat knit on circular needles, not a scarf knit on straight needles (as most tend to think). Therefore, 16" circulars in size 8 are, I find, the absolutely most important needles to have.
- double pointed needles, sizes 2 and 6: Master the double pointed needles and you are ready to conquer anything. It doesn't take much time or brainpower to figure them out, and once you do, you will be able to knit hats, socks, mittens, toys, abstract works of art, pillows, legwarmers, wristwarmers, baby clothes, and just about anything else you can think of. Size 2s tend to be perfect for socks knit with thinnish yarn; size 6s are perfect for socks and mittens knit with worsted-weight yarn. Double pointed needles eradicate seaming, which is lovely. I find my size 6s to be in high demand, so although I only have two sets, I would probably do well to have about four sets of double pointed needles on hand. I also find around holiday times that I use my set of size 13 dpns a lot for quick-knit hats, socks, slippers, and so forth. If you're going to try to knit hats with dpns, you probably want to have a 16" circular in the same size, as the main portion of the hat tends to be a bit wide, and consequently fussy, for dpns.
- straight needles, size 6 and 8: Again, these will carry you through many different types of projects. Stock up on cheapie old ones and have them on hand--they will always be used sooner or later, and if not, give them away to appreciative new knitters (or to houseguest knitters who forgot theirs at home).
Then there is the notions basket. In addition to large collections of needles and unwieldy masses of yarn, knitters tend to end up with hordes of bitty notions that are vital to projects but don't lend themselves to easy storage. I keep mine in this fabric basket--check out my tutorial for it and make your own here. It's a sweet little place to store: crochet hooks, stitch markers, Eucalan wash, cable needles, yarn needles, a tape measure, point protectors, a small ruler, and all other knitting paraphernalia.
I also store my small, absolutely indispensable items in a clear plastic pencil case that I take everywhere I take my knitting projects. This case generally holds: a 6" ruler, a pencil, scrap paper, lengthy bits of scrap yarn (useful as stitch holders, stitch markers, etc.), a cable needle, a yarn needle, scissors, and a set of 6" dpns. How do you store your supplies? What are your favorite types of needles? Please feel free to share in the comments section below. Enjoy the day! Louisa Merry