Friday, July 15, 2011

How to Choose Knitting Needles in 5 Easy Steps

Are you overwhelmed by the wide variety of knitting needles? Don't know what needles to buy when selecting yarn? This tutorial will help you select the right knitting needles in 5 easy steps!
  1. Check the yarn label. If you plan on knitting a project without a pattern, a scarf - for example, and don't have a pattern. Check the yarn label. The label will have the recommended needle size needed.
  2. If following a pattern, use the recommended knitting needles stated on the pattern. You may need to go up or down a needle size to get the right gauge, but it is almost always the right place to start. If the pattern recommends circular, straight, or double pointed needles be sure to use them. The designer recommended them because they enable you to achieve the expected results.
  3. Size does matter! When referring to needle size, it actually means the diameter of the knitting needle. Use really thin needles, you'll get tighter stitches; use thicker needles, you'll get looser stitches. A pattern or yarn label recommends the needle size to go with a particular yarn or yarn weight so that you will get the results intended.
  4. Why are there different types of knitting needles and lengths? Needles are available in a variety of styles (i.e. straight needles, circular needles, double pointed needles) and lengths (usually measured in inches) for two reasons. The first reason is to accomodate the number of stitches you will be knitting. For example, if you are knitting a baby blanket with 200 stitches, you wouldn't want to use a needle only 9 or 10 inches long, you'd want to use 14" straight needles or even circular needles. The other reason is to allow you the liberty to do amazing things with knitting. Mittens, for example, are usually knit in the round on double pointed knitting needles. These needles allow you to knit the project seamlessly and 3-dimensional, instead of a as a flat panel.
  5. Knitting needles come in a variety of materials, be sure to try them all and discover the ones you like.Knitting needles are available in steel, aluminum, plastic, bamboo, and even hard woods. Think of them as your artist's tools for knitting. Some yarns feel better when knit with bamboo, some feel better when knit with aluminum. For example, I love the glide of aluminum or steel needles when knitting on circulars, but prefer bamboo needles when knitting on double pointed needles because the grip the yarn a bit better. No choice is right or wrong, it's a personal preference, so find what works best for you.

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