Suitably Matched

Way back when I was a brand new knitter (think ‘had to look up how to purl because it seemed sort of tricky’ level of new), I read a pattern that said something like ‘cast on 24 stitches with appropriate yarn and suitably matched needles.’  And somehow I got it into my head that ‘suitably matched’ meant ‘needles that look pretty with your yarn.’  I’ll just let you imagine how well that worked out.  It’s a wonder I ever got the hang of this.

But that incident has left me with a tendency to grin every time my needles happen to match my knitting!

And someone will ask, so these are the needles.  No they’re nothing fancy.  But I’ve had them for at least a decade, and they’ve held up perfectly (as have all the other needles of that brand I’ve used over the years…).  And the yarn is Silky Victoria from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the color Sugar Plum Fairy Dust.  And the knitting is a swatch for Curls 3 (which should be next year’s book)!

Flake

Remember back in August, when I was so excited for lovely, long DPNs?  And bought three sets?  And loved them with an undying fervor?  Yeah.  So here’s how that turned out.

DSC_3076 copyIt’s a bit hard hard to take a picture of, but if you look closely, you can see that the tip is flaking rather badly.   It’s happening to all three sets.

I get that needles are tools, and that tools show signs of use over time.  I don’t expect tools to last forever.  But I’ve had the needles for less than five months, and they’ve only been used for two or three projects (depends on which set we’re talking about, but either way it’s not what I’d call heavy use).  And I do expect needles to last longer than this.

I’m totally bummed and once again on the hunt for sturdy, long DPNs.  Though I’m starting to think they just don’t exist…

Meanwhile

So, it’s been sort of all book all the time around here, but I have managed to grab the occasional spare moment and actually knit (not many mind you…but every now and then).  There’s a hat underway.

DSC_0500 copyIt started out something like that.

DSC_0513 copyThen it was more like that.

DSC_0600 copyAnd these days it’s more like this.

It’s the simplest little thing ever (two row repeat, mostly stockinette, easy to pick up and bang out a row when you have a minute), which makes it the perfect thing for the craziness of launch week.  All the interest comes from the yarn (Spun Right Round in the color Bug Jar), and I’m not actually sure I’d be up for anything more complicated at the moment!

And it’s the absolutely perfect project to break in my lovely new needles.

DSC_0488 copyEDIT: These, alas, fell apart after about five months of light use…details over here.

I’m a huge fan of long dpns (really long, 14 inches long).  But they can be shockingly hard to find, and the wooden ones I ordered most recently have given me no end of problems.  So I was absolutely delighted when a few folks on twitter pointed me to this etsy shop.  They have long dpns (both metal and wood) in a whole host of sizes for astonishingly reasonable prices.  Their customer service is great (I had a question about the needles and they helped me out right away) and the needles came quickly.  I’m completely smitten with them and will totally be ordering more.

Inevitable

Sigh.  I have knit two curls, two sizable curls on straight needles with no problems at all.  I just bunched the stitches up (and eventually whacked a rubber band around the fabric to keep it smooshed together).  It worked perfectly.

But that’s just not going to work for this one.  The yarn is both astonishing fluffy and hideously delicate, and it just won’t take being smooshed too much.  Stitches are popping off both ends of the needles, and I’m pretty sure if I tried to rubber band it, the band would chew right through the fabric like a chainsaw.

too many stitchesSo I did the unthinkable.  I actually bought circular needles.  I feel dirty.

i bought circsAnd of course, this pair had scuffed up tips, which I only realized after I transferred all several hundred stitches over.  So I’ve moved them back to straights and am waiting for the new needle to arrive.  Then we’ll see if I can actually bring myself to knit on circs.  I expect I’m going to whine.  A lot.

Edit: The second pair of addis also arrived with scuffed tips, so I switched to ChiaoGoo red lace needle and am having much better luck with that.

 

Point

I distinctly remember, back when I was a new knitter, wondering why on earth people had so many knitting needles.  I could understand having different sizes.  Though I secretly suspected that you could probably make size 2 act like size 1 if you just pulled extra tight or like size 3 if you just kept your yarn a bit loose…I mean how much difference could a half a millimeter really make?  (Hint, new knitters, if you’re reading this, the answer is ‘a lot.’  Half a millimeter makes a lot of difference.  Save yourself the headache and be smarter than I was.)  But I truly could not understand why anyone would have more than one set of needles of the same size.

But the more I knit, the more convinced I became that needles were hugely important.  The texture matters.  The tips matter.  The shape matters.  Sometimes even the color matters.  So when I heard about the new FlipStix from addi, I pretty much had to try them out (erm, and it seemed important to try them in 3 sizes…for science you understand).

DSC_1360The idea is kind of genius.  DPNs with one pointy tip and one blunt tip so you can use whichever end is the best fit for the yarn and project you’re working on.

I totally love the idea, and addis are always marvelous quality.  I adore aluminum needles because they are light and comfortable in your hands, and these have the perfect amount of grip in the finish, grabby enough to hold the yarn but slick enough not to slow you down.  But there are a few tweaks I wish I could make.

The first and most important is the points themselves.  Take a look at the pointy and blunt ends of the 1.5s .

DSC_1351There isn’t really as much difference between the two as I’d like.  The blunt isn’t too far off what I’d pick for a blunt tip if I had my very own magic wand.  But the pointy end isn’t really terribly pointy at all.  It’s more what I’d consider normal.  To be fair, I like a very pointy needle.  For reference, the stiletto point on my signature arts needles is almost as pointy as I’d like.  But since the difference between the pointy and blunt ends is sort of the whole point of these needles, I’d expect it to be a bit more dramatic.  As it is, it was pretty hard to tell if I was using the blunt end or the pointy end.

My other concern is the colors.  I love the idea of a set of differently colored needles.  But I wish they’d chosen a more distinct range of colors.  You get a light and a dark blue, a light and a dark yellow, and a red.  If they’d gone with red, orange, green, blue, purple I’d be delighted.  I’d probably buy a bunch just for the color (I’m a sucker for rainbows, shameful but true).  But the two blue, two yellow, and red thing just feels odd.

So, as much as I was excited by the idea, I have to admit I’m sort of bummed by the execution.  I love the weight and the finish.  And if the pointy end were pointier and the colors a bit more differentiated, I’d buy a zillion of them.  But as it is, I don’t think I’ll find myself needing any more.

How about you guys?  Have you tried the FlipStix?  Do you have strong opinions about needle tips?  Know of anyone else doing double tips or different colored needles within a set?  Is my perfect needle lurking out there somewhere waiting for me?  Because I think it’s probably best for all of us if I avoid trying to make my own…