July 24, 2007

Tuesday Q&A

I've made little progress on socks, sweaters or sundry, and I'm hoping to distract you from the pathetic lack of progress by confessing that I have an unblog-able secret project on the go, and I'm working a whole lot of hours with writing stuff (which really just looks like me hunched over my desk with my head in my hands...but is work nonetheless.)

Shall we do Q&A? It's been a while.

Mary asks:

I am curious as to the needles you use for your socks. Are
they knit picks? I bought some and tried them a week or so ago and found them incredibly heavy, they were #1 (US).

They are indeed Knit Picks needles, of which I am a pretty big fan. I almost always knit socks on metal dpns, I find them fast and sturdy, and for my particular tension and style of knitting I like a really rigid needle. Wooden needles at the finer gauges drive me insane because of their flexibility, that little bit of "give" sometimes makes it harder for me to knit. (There are exceptions, of course.) Naturally, there are many knitters who find the exact opposite is true, it all depends on your personal bent. These needles are nickel plated like the Addi Turbos, and have much in common.

As for the weight, there are a couple of issues. Knit Picks makes two sizes of US #1s, so that the full metric range is represented. You can see in this kit (which I just bought and really love) that the sizes are:

2, 2.25, 2.5, 2.75, 3, 3.25.....all standard Metric.

BUT in US sizes, because the system isn't set up for that much differentiation, the sizes in the same kit are:

0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3.

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to note the difference between the two ones and the two twos (maybe I call them US number one ones and number two ones and US number one twos and number two twos? 1a? 2b?) but for the purposes of the rest of this bit, let's assume that I am comparing the first US #1's (2.25mm.)

(Kindly insert here my standard rant on the difficulties of the US needle sizing system, why I don't like it and why I don't use it. I think that there are two ones and two twos and that you need metric to explain the difference totally illustrates my point.)

In any case, according to my handy little scale, (and Grumperina's, since she weighed some a while ago too) my rosewood DPNs in 2.25 mm (US size one ones) weigh 1.6g. My Susan Bates cheap aluminum ones (the ones that were my favourites before the Knit Picks ones came along) weigh 7g, and the Knit Picks are 11.3.
That means there's a difference of 4.3g between the two metal brands I compared - and that's about the weight of two pennies.


For me, that tiny little bit of extra weight is nothing and doesn't bother me at all, I don't even register it. I think if I were a wooden needle user I might notice the difference more. Clearly, if I were concerned about weight, I would be using the rosewood, which are very much lighter. As it is two pennies worth of extra weight seems so completely inconsequential to me that it won't hold me back in the slightest, and as a matter of fact, I find that wee bit of extra weight sort of comfortable and sturdy. What will bug the snot out of me is broken needles (because I carry my knitting everywhere I am death unto wooden needles for socks) bent needles (the cheaper aluminum ones don't really stand up well to my sock lifestyle either, although until now they were they best I could do) and needles that aren't sharp enough to make light work of stitch manipulation with cables and such.

Everybody else is going to have their own set of priorities. It could be that flexibility is really important to you, in which case you're really going to hate the Knit Picks needles and would enjoy plastic. If you knit very loosely and find that your needles slide out of your work easily, these are going to make you nuttier than Peter Pan at a retirement home and you're going to love bamboo. If you love smooth, fast, sharp needles, these are your babies.

There are no "bad" needles out there, just needles you or I don't like. I could pull what I thought was the worst needle out of my bag tomorrow and someone here would defend it to her death as the best needle ever. There's simply too much personality in knitting for us to ever be able declare a universal best choice. (We can have the Circular VS Straight argument tomorrow if you like.) For now, I'm really enjoying the Nickel Plated, and there's only one way that Susan Bates has got them beat....


You can't match the Knitpicks to your yarn. Bummer.

Posted by Stephanie at July 24, 2007 1:36 PM