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As knitting has become popular again, there are more and more options for knitters looking to purchase materials for their craft. Knitting needles now come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, often bearing little or no resemblance to the knitting needles that many people envision. There are a few things that a knitter must take into consideration when shopping for and buying knitting needles.
The first decision a knitter must make when buying knitting needles is whether to use traditional straight needles, circular needles, or double pointed needles. Straight needles are the most familiar and comfortable for many people who learned exclusively on this type of needle. Circular needles have the advantage of being useful for both items knitted in the round as well as items that might normally be knitted on straight needles. Double-pointed needles are for smaller items knitted in the round, such as socks or the tops of hats.
Once a knitter has made the decision of straight, circular, or double-pointed knitting needles, he or she must choose from a variety of materials. Knitting needles are generally made of metal, wood, or plastic. Plastic needles are often the cheapest and for many knitters, the least comfortable to work with. Wooden needles are usually reasonably priced, unless made of a rare wood or handmade. One advantage to both plastic and wooden knitting needles is that they are apt to make less "clicking" noise than metal needles, possibly causing less of a disturbance in a quiet atmosphere.
Metal knitting needles can either be cheaply made and economically priced, like the Susan Bates brand, or much more expensive, such as the Addi Turbo, a brand of knitting needles that any good knitter will recognize. Although the Addi Turbo circular needles can easily cost several times the price of other needles, they do indeed facilitate much faster knitting by their smooth finish. It is up to each individual knitter to determine how much that time saved is worth.
The size of knitting needles refers to the diameter of the needles. There are metric, UK, and US sizes, which don't appear to have any correspondence to each other. For example, knitting needles with a diameter of 2.25 mm are a UK size 13, and a US size 1. Needles with a diameter of 5.5 mm are a UK size 5 and a US size 9. Most yarn labels will at least have recommendations for the metric and US size of needles to be used. Knitting needles are also usually labeled with at least two sizes. Knitters who knit tightly, with a lot of tension, may need to go up a size from the recommended size of needles, while loose knitters may need to do the opposite.
There are other criteria to consider when buying knitting needles, but these cover most of the main points. Much of it is individual preference. Experienced knitters usually know which brands "feel right" to them; feel most comfortable in their hands, neither snag the yarn, nor let it slip off. Inexperienced knitters may want to solicit recommendations from friends or knitting instructors, or go to a knitting store ad ask if some of the needles can be tried out. Another option for new knitters is to borrow needles or buy some used ones in order to get a feel of what their personal favorites may be.
If you are just beginning to learn how to knit, it can be a bit overwhelming to browse the craft store and see all of the different choices. I think one of the best ways to get started is to purchase a kit. You can find knitting needle sets online or most any place that sells crafts.
Another helpful tip is to take someone with you who knows how to knit. Their suggestions will be extremely helpful for you and you can feel confident that you have bought the right supplies for your project.
The project you are going to make has a big impact on what size of needles you will use. Everybody has a different touch, and even if you use the same size needles, your completed project can be a different size. My stitches tend to be a little loser than what many others are.
For most of my projects I find myself using my Addi Turbo knitting needles because it seems like I can work faster with these. After a little bit of time, everyone will have their favorites. This is why it is nice to have so many options to choose from.