One of the things I absolutely l-o-v-e about knitting are the many different patterns to choose from. Just about anything one can think of is knitable! From sweaters to placemats, evening bags to dog coats, even knitted food! Lately, all emphasis has been on which yarn to use for each project. Happily, this is a subject for another day; only let me say here, today's yarns are just the icing on the cake when knitting beautiful creations. With so many varied yarns, everything from wool and silk, to fun fur and cashmere, to hand-woven yarns, and most in an array of beautiful colors, just deciding which yarn to use can be a task in itself! It is good to know, though, the difference between knitting needles and which types are recommended for which projects. Fortunately, you need look no further than this article.
There are straight knitting needles, double-pointed needles, and circular needles. All of them can be purchased in wood, metal, plastic or bamboo. As you knit, you will form a preference for the type needle you like best, so stick with those inclinations.
Straight knitting needles are great to knit with, especially when there are less than seventy-five stitches on your needles. These are used for flat knitting, for example, in making pieces of sweaters, placemats, washcloths, and any smaller knitted item. Circular needles are usually utilized when knitting large afghans, or any project which requires a large number of stitches on the needles. Any project that calls for more than eighty stitches will always tell you to purchase a circular needle. When knitting with circular needles, you can join the yarn and knit in "rounds", or leave your knitting "open-ended" and knit back and forth as you do with straight needles. Double pointed needles are usually used in sets of four or five, and are used when knitting socks, or can be substituted for circular knitting.
Cable needles are also double-pointed, and you will need a single cable needle whenever making cables in your knitting. Straight or circular needles also come in different lengths, so watch your instructions for that particular detail as well. All needles have an American size and a metric equivalent. For example, a size US 8 is 5mm or UK 6.
Go figure. Knitting needles, no matter which type you use, come in sizes from very small, size 0 to 4, to medium, size 5-10, and larger needles, size 11 and up. Knitting on medium sized needles is the easiest knitting to do; when knitting with very small or very large needles, believe it or not, requires more attention and can be more difficult handling, and actually "knitting" each stitch. Great care has to be taken not to have stitches slip or fall off the needles, as it is so easy to lose stitches with very small or very large needles. As you become accustomed to knitting, you will likely experience what it's like to knit with all these needles.
In time, some will be favorites and others will be used only when you need to. But, it is good news to know what each needle does, and why you need to know!.
Alice Seidel works as a freelance writer. She is the author of dozens of articles, a full-length book on knitting, and is the Author and Publisher of "Knit Stitch & Whimsy", a monthly knitting newsletter. For details, visit ==> http://www.theknitstitch.com