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A discourse on knitting needles, or, op shops are your friend!

by Sayraphim on April 22, 2009

I have a big list of things to do today, which is why I’m sitting down to discuss knitting needles with you!Photo orginally uploaded by The Shopping Sherpa

When I first started knitting a couple of years ago, I started off with metal needles. I can’t remember where I got them from, but I had a couple of sets in different sizes and I knitted a couple of things, but I found that the metal needles were a little heavy, and add to that the knitting itself, especially when you’re knitting a big thing, like clothing or scarves, that the weight becomes too much and it starts to drag on your wrists. So i decided to press on with knitting needle experimentation.

Next I tried the bamboo needles from a craft store. I found these nice and light, but occasionally when you first buy them you need to sand the points down a little to remove splinters that catch on the wool. An emery board is totally suitable for this, you don’t need any special tools. I find, however, that occasionally the knobs at the top pop off (you need to reglue them on with PVA or a similar glue) and if you step on them, they break. I’ve got a couple of half sets now, waiting for me to break another half a pair…

I love the coloured plastic ones you can sometimes find in op shops and second hand shops, but I’ve never had any pairs of those, so I’ve never used them.

The needles that I most prefer to use, however, are tortoise shell needles. My grandmother once gave me a whole handful of them, which I promptly grabbed one pair out and put the rest somewhere safe and now I’m not fully sure where they are. But the pair I do have are wonderful. They’re light, which makes them better than metal needles, and they’re flexible, so they’re better than the bamboo ones, and they have some kind of property that allows the wool or yarn to glide across them beautifully, but somehow the knitting doesn’t slide off if you accidentally hold them upright, or upside down, which is also a big plus.

The only problem with them is that they’re an animal product, which means that something had to die to make them. For that reason, I certainly wouldn’t buy them new from a store, even if they did still sell them, and I totally understand if other people have a moral issue with using them.

But I only buy them at op shops and antique stores (when you can find them!) and I think that I’d rather rescue them and use them than have them thrown out. Yes, an animal died for them, but since it’s already happened, I’d rather that death not have been for nothing, which it would be if they wern’t used anymore. Plus, it’s recylcing and that’s always a wonderful thing.

But my advice for anyone who is starting out with knitting is try different needles and see what works best for you! Like everything, start at op shops where stuff to cheaper to experiment with, and you can also often find wool, yarn, pattern books and all sorts of excellent odds and ends.

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