I love straight needles. Especially some new ebony ones I recently acquired. They are the best! The advantage to circulars is probably that you have less seams, and I will admit that I have used them on airplane flights to avoid jabbing the person next to me with my straights (although I have sat next to a few people who deserve to be jabbed). But I'm with ya!!
Sign me up!
Ok, so circulars make the whole thing a wee bit more compact (or at least it gives the illusion of making it more compact), but yeah... straights are... er... um... I have no idea. Just like 'em better. Although, I have to admit that when you are working on something big-ish and/or heavy, using straights means that you use quite a bit of energy to hold them "up", whereas the weight is more equally distributed (somehow) with circulars.
(yes, I know that most people will probably go "huh?" at the weight thing, but if you have arthritis, you'll know what I mean)
Sorry but circulars are it for me (and you can switch circular needles as well as straights between knit and purl rows if your gauge is off). It's primarily because the weight of the knittng is in your lap and not carried by your wrists. I think circulars pack and travel better. Also, you don't lose one needle of a pair which used to happen to me all the time.
Isn't it great that we have a choice?
Sorry, I'm a circular convert. I'm also a clutz. It's easier for me not to have to keep picking up the dropped needle and it takes less energy to manipulate a circular than a long, heavy straight needle containing stitches. That's my theory. My LYS owner uses straights though...
p.s. that's a beautiful swatch.
I have a question - well, I have many, many questions, but this one's relevant to today's entry: when does a swatch cease to be a swatch and become (e.g.) a shawl? Where is the line between swatchness and somethingness?
Somehow, I hear Mike Myers saying "talk amongst yourselves"...
Ok, here is what the LYS owner told me, which I later found almost word-for-word in the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Knitting Guide.
1) While some projects require circular needles rather than straight, any straight-needle project can also be done on circular needles. (that certainly got me interested as I need to be spending as little money on this hobby as I can, despite how it may seem)
2) With circular needles, the weight of whatever you're working on is sitting in your lap, instead of on the end of the needles. This greatly reduces the strain on wrists and arms, especially with heavy projects.
3) This was already mentioned - with circular needles you don't have ends flailing around that might get in the way if you're trying to knit in a confined area - bus seat, airplane seat, etc etc.
Basically for me, it was a cost-efficiency issue, and also, I really liked the idea of causing less strain on my wrists. :D But that's not to say that I won't try some straight needles in the future. I'm a little bit biased against them though, because that first set I borrowed was a pair of aluminum #5s... and I found them really hard to work with because they're so skinny and the metal is so slippery. Wood (er. actually they're bamboo) needles aren't so slippery and that makes it easier for me to use them until I get better at all of this. :)
Honk, honk. However, I love all needles. Depends on the project. Favorites are the Rosewood #2 straights that I'm using now..just heavenly. That is the most beautiful swatch I've ever seen. My question is: If you are going to make a 'real' shawl after the swatch can I have the swatch? LOL
OK, you got lots of serious answers about needles, so my comment will be the frivolous one!
If you haven't seen it, rent Bill Cosby's timeless comedy video, "Fatherhood," in which he proves that cake is, indeed, nutritious (although his wife begged to differ).
OK, here's one serious comment. I like a fairly wide shawl, at least 60" wide at shoulder width. I like to be able to toss one end over my shoulder.
Love your lace.
I prefer straight needles, too. I can use circular and DPNs, but I always head back to my 14-inch straights when I want to just relax and knit. I knit "lever action" and tuck the right hand needle under my arm. It's nice to see there are a couple of other straight needle lovers left. :)
Love your blog.
I too like circular needles, but my reason is pure self-preservation: it's much more difficult to cause yourself injury with a circular (says the girl with the crescent shaped scar on her forehead from a run-in with a drinking straw). It can still be done, but it's less likely.
I've only been knitting about three years, but I've recently discovered that I prefer knitting with circulars. They're a little easier on my wrists. Plus, I seem to knit faster, a big bonus when knitting a swatch. :)
On the coffee issue, there should be an express line for just plain damned coffee. The only choice, if any, should be the size. Or maybe a coffee nazi, like the soup nazi from Seinfeld?
I love your blog!
Beep! Circular needles don't feel "real" to me, though I've used them in a pinch now and then. Gimme those nice old-fashioned wooden Brittanys! :)
Part of it is that I'm a slut for dpns. Would you believe I'm currently knitting a sweater front with nothing but dpns? (I'm planning to join front and back and knit in the round, but still.) Plus they're great for (small!) swatches.
Speaking of which, your large "swatch" is gorgeous!
HONK!!!!!! I love straight needles - these circular contraptions absolutely don't do it for me (except for special sweaters where you have to knit "around and around and around", until you are bores senseless. I love your shawl even though it has holes in it. Bea
Sigh. I'm too fat to use straight needles--I keep bonking them on myself.
When thin, I use whatever's closest (which is how I get fat again: laziness!). Right now I'm doing Cardi Raye on circs so that I can "slide" while knitting stripes of non-even rows, and thus avoid having more ends to weave in. (See, more laziness . . . )
But I totally support you in your choice to be straight. So to speak. :)
I love circulars - I find them much easier to manipulate in my podgy little hands.
In terms of triangular shawls, I like the longest edge to be 6+ feet wide, though not more than 7 feet. From the long edge straight down the middle to the point, I like it to be 3.5 - 4 feet long.
I can use circulars ok, but I'd rather use straight needles, because I hold the left one under my arm (like using a knitting belt but you don't have to buy it) and keept it steady and knit against it, and therefore knit like a bat out of hell.
Circulars won't do that.
Back in the day when knitting on airplanes was not an Issue with a capital I, I took a pair of straights with me--and dropped one. It promptly rolled somewhere way back there in the cabin and I never saw it again. That was the end of knitting on THAT flight!
One useful purpose for a circular, even when you don't otherwise like them: you can take that swatch, rinse it very gently in lukewarm water, and lay it out on a white sheet, still on the needles, to dry overnight, pinched and pulled around in the general shape you want. That's not a real blocking, of course, and I suggest the circulars because that way you can get the stitches near the top spread out further than with a straight needle. But what it does is give you a good sense of how the overall shape and size are coming out, rather than the crumpled-tin-foil effect of lace stitches in progress. Good luck!
I used to be a straight needle girl, with a particular affection for skinny bamboos. Do you know what happens when your 1-year-old and the bamboos get together? Out of the knitting comes the needle and... snap! After about 3 pair were decimated (despite my attempts at securing my knitting out of reach) I gave up and started buying Turbo circs. Someday I may go back, when she's reached the age of reason, or at least the age of not poking her eye out while "playing".
I like to use circular needles for reasons already mentioned here - the weight factor and the seams.
I hate seams in my knitted items. I frequently adapt patterns, if I'm using a pattern at all, so that it is all done in the round, with no seams to worry about sewing or wearing.
I also like circulars because I like to knit while I walk, and the circulars keep the knitting all in one place for me, and help support the weight so I don't have it really heavy on one side and light on the other or anything like that.
Another benefit is the ability to wrap the knitting and needles around the yarn and just stuff it all in my backpack. While this is probably not good for the needles, portablity is an essential feature for knitting in school, which I also frequently do.
I like the way that knitting in the round is all the same. It is meditative and relaxing for me, which is the main reason I knit at all. Knitting a flat piece is annoying for me because I have to stop and turn it around, and change what stitch I'm doing so it matches the front, but even when I am doing something flat, like a shawl, I use circulars.
Really love the blog,
Another honk for straight needles! My current baby blanket project has been on and off circulars twice now. I keep thinking that I should be using the circulars--but, they feel just so flimsy in my hands and back I go to the straight bamboos.
So, looks like it's mostly cottage knitters (those who tuck a needle under an arm) who continue to like straight needles, probably because cottage knitting is the fastest way on the planet to hand knit.
A question for all the circular fans: how do you keep them organized?
and that is the world's biggest friggin' swatch...
Organizing circular needles. This is in itself a sufficiently cool reason for converting to circulars and while I didn't come up with this storage method, I have adopted it fully.
The answer is: WORM BINDERS!
That's correct. The other term you might see is "soft tackle box for live bait". I bought mine from BassPro (http://www.basspro-shops.com/servlet/catalog.TextId?hvarTextId=37109&hvarDept=100&hvarEvent=&hvarClassCode=11&hvarSubCode=9&hvarTarget=browse) but any place that sells fishing equipment should have them.
Just don't do what I did at first and go to a fly fishing store and ask for them...
I'm a circular needle guy myself. With a 16 24 and 40 inch circular needle you can knit anything at all.
Big shawls. Socks (magic loop or two ciruclars). Sweaters, scarves.
I like that I'm not prone to losing them, that I can get circulars through most low security situations. The wrist thing is big. My carpal tunnels are teniously close to compleatly failing me. And I'm only 17. Grr.
Also, I'm addicted to Addi Turbo needles. I don't care that I've spent more on those needles than I have on the yarn for some sweaters. I also don't care that Inox Express needles are cheaper (they don't have the nice cord with wire reinforcement.)
I also don't like seaming anything, and only have slight qualms about steeking.
I even make scarves in the round.
About the only thing I've made back and forth (let alone on straight needles) in the past six months are: 2 scarves (before I learned the circular scarf method), and some cotten washcloths.
That is beautiful, Stephanie! I myself have a swatch that has turned into a WIP. It's a scarf. My first ever scarf actually. I am working on a size 9 bamboo circular. I hate it. everytime I turn it, I have to work the double yo's over the join between the needle and the cord. My red shawl that took 5 months to knit was worked on a size 5 circular, and I don't remember having that problem. It was a circular shawl however, so I didn't really have a choice.
Knitting sweaters on straits gets old. The weight bugs me. Plus, I like to stretch things out frequently and see my progress. Circulars make it easier to do that. I guess for me, it just depends on the project. Each needle has its place. I will say, however, that straits are fun. I like the movement. It makes me feel somehow connected to the "women of old", knitting by candlelight in a wooden rocker, on a wooden floor. Cheesy, I know, but true none the less.
as with many things, i go both ways. *ahem*
i don't like the straight needles that i have, but i want to get some bamboo ones for the "quaint" factor. i also like dpns, however i've not completed anything with them. yet.
I nearly always use circular needles: Addi Turbos or bamboos.
Love those rosewood circs, but I've broken too many of the small (say 2.5mm) to justify the extra cost and wait time.
I confess I'm not much interested in speed, and I don't knit everything in the round.
Au contraire, in fact.
I must also admit that now that I've been using circs for so long, I have the unfortunate tendency when using straights to let the "used up" one go flying at the ends of rows.
This does not make me a nice seatmate on planes, alas, so I tend to stick to circs.
Oh, and Sam Kleinman? Forget the Inox needles.
You should see my thumb from purling with those buggery teeny Inox pointy points.
Feh. Holes that hurt like hell.
I was converted to circulars when DS was little - he would zip those needles out of that WIP in no time flat. I learned quickly that it was a little more difficult for him to do that if I used circulars. BTW, you can use 2 different sizes of needles if you have one of the modular sets (Denise, Needlemaster, et al).
And YES, dammit, there should definitely be an express line for plain old coffee! Can't explain the price, tho.
goodies to get you through the rest of the break:
i noticed a decided lack of yarn-harlot buttons. i wanted to make a wool-pig button ever since you posted about the scarf. i finally did. i hope you enjoy!
Oh, the wool pig is so cute!
HONK HONK. I use straights for back and forth. I hate circs for that.I use short needles with my stitches crammed up. I am not thin, and I don't poke myself. I knit very quickly. I think its what your used to. I find too that circs, no matter how good, after awhile have that stick to the wool bit where they join. This drives me crazier than a hang nail catching on the yarn. The weight doesn't bother me because I hold my hands down by my lap. I can knit and walk, but usually do socks. I do socks or hats where I might stab someone else.
60 inches is usually what I do for a shawl, but just stick the stiches on some string, and drape it around you when you think its about big enough. Give it a wee tug to account for the blocking. Works pretty good for sizing.
Holy crap, what a lot of comments! I'm badly outnumbered on the straight thing too. Damn.
33 comments already! I'm a little intimidated to add my own to the list but I do agree that straight needles are great. If I'm knitting a sweater in one piece, then yes, I will use a circ but if I'm doing it in individual pieces then I use straights. For a shawl though - aren't those stitches going to get uncomfortably and awkwardly squished? (I've never made a shawl though so I don't really know.) Your swatch is looking fabulous though, I must say.
Blimey, loads of comments! I am more comfortable and knit faster with straights. Notwithstanding that, i have persevered with circs because they are so perfect for fair isle and travelling.
Also wanted to add my cogratulations on a great piece in Spin Off, Stephanie. Even thought i had seen it before it still made me giggle.
The only circulars I like, and I seem to use them for every knitting project since I bought them last year, are the Denise Interchangeable needles. The blue cords that you attatch the needles to is nice and thick (the same measurement of a US#5 needle)so you don't get that jamming of the stitches at the base of the needle... other than those, I LOVE my Brittany straights.
What, you have never done more than one swatch for a project? Although if you have any circular needles, I like the idea of rinsing the current swatch in warm water and staking it out overnight. I think you could even just do this down toward the tip and get a good idea of the measurements for the lace repeat, at least enough to estimate the full size of the shawl when you leave off swatching and start seriously knitting on the shawl itself. :-P
Elizabeth in Norway
My aunt and grandmother both knit extensively. Grandma holds her needles like "normal" people in the United States, one needle in each hand, yarn carried on the right hand. My aunt, who knits very speedily, accurately, uniformly, and efficiently, props the right-hand needle (straight needles only) in her lap so that it sticks up vertically and holds the left needle in her left hand like a normal person. The left needle moves, the right one does not. She carries the yarn in her right hand, which also sort of steadies the right needle without actually *HOLDING* it.
I have never seen anyone else knit like my aunt, with the propped needle. When she KIPped, people would ask about why she was knitting that way, that they'd never seen anyone else do that, blah blah blah. So, when I went to learn to knit, I used circulars (nothing to prop) so that I'd have to learn the 'one in each hand' method like "normal" people so that nobody would stare. That worked. I can do the "normal" people method, especially on circulars and teeny bamboo sock needles.
Only... the propping thing is amazingly fast. I tried it, you know, to see what it was like. It's really fast. Easy. I don't have to pay as much attention to it.
So. This 'cottage knitting' thing. Sounds like propped needle knitting to me. Other people do this? It's not necessarily some sort of shameful thing to only do at home where other people can't stare at you?
you know, I had a big dramatic speech all ready about the fundamental difference between "straight" needlers and "circs" ... and then BAM! My short-attention span was absolutely gripped by a single phrase in the comments:
And now, I am sorry, I have no idea what I was going to say about needles or knitting (something about circular needles being good for socks and necklines, but preferring the "traditional" feeling that nice wooden straight needles give me) and now, instead I am disturbed at the overly graphic image of Trapper Keepers full of nightcrawlers.
I started out knitting with straights and could not stand all the elbow wallowing that resulted. Let alone the risk to anyone sitting next to me from the flailing needles... And the weight on the wrists was also a bit much.
I also hadn't learned to knit continental-style at the time so it was just very messy and involved more arm action than I liked.
So I'm a circular convert--love 'em. For organization I'm using a tip I picked up from some knit blog/list somewhere to use a CD case, the kind that hold lots of vinyl sleeves for the CDs. Works very well, especially for the smaller sizes of circular needles.
Worm binders? Who knew that such a thing existed!
I love straights too. They are faster and they make a cooler noise. And I find my knitting [especially on big things like sweater backs] stays in shape better!