Needles matter: Why I'm switching

For years I have been a tried and true Bamboo Girl.  I used them, I recommended them, I hated having to use anything else.  I even contemplated planting bamboo in my backyard so I could make my own needles, until my best friend from childhood warned me against it.  ("Remember when we were younger?  There was an actual yard behind my house.  Now, bamboo. Everywhere!  Don't do it!!!")

Then on a recent trip I borrowed a set of size 9 circular needles.  They were metal, but I was desperate. I used them for a day on a scarf, then transferred the stitches to a holder to return the needles, knowing I would be much happier when I got home to my bamboo needles and could finish the project with them. 

Imagine my shock when I was not happier.  The difference in the stitch gauge and tension was freaky.  It was flat out ugly, which, in a project using high quality luxury yarn*, you reallllyyyy don't want to see.

Can you see the bit in the middle, where it's not as smooth and lovely?  Sadly, knit with my bamboo needles.

Can you see the bit in the middle, where it's not as smooth and lovely?  Sadly, knit with my bamboo needles.


I have heard over the years that knitters who prefer to knit fast use metal needles of some kind, almost exclusively.  As I've told my kids since they were small, though, it's not a race--at least not for me.  I knit for enjoyment (even when I knit for business) and if I take all the fun out of it by racing against the clock or some other knitter, then I may as well take up Nascar (not. ever. happening.). 

The warmth of bamboo and the feel of something from nature have always been more important to me than speed or even cost.   It turns out that the thing that trumps all the other issues is how good (or bad) your garter or stockinette stitch looks. 

All of this means that I broke down and bought a set of circular needles--the Options Interchangeable Nickel Plated ones from KnitPicks.  I love how my knitting looks when I use them (which is all the time now) and I also love how the tips will stay sharp (bamboo has a tendency to lose some pointy-ness over time).

At the same time, however, I also purchased a set of the Nickel Plated sock double points.  I tried so hard to make them work.  The combination of them being double-pointed and so darn slippery made for some tight gripping in sock knitting.  This, my friends, simply will not do.  Having heard rave reviews about KnitPicks' exchange/return policy, I sent them back and ordered the Sunstruck Wood set instead.  I love them. They are smoother than the bamboo needles I've used for years and the points are just sharp enough without feeling like a dangerous weapon. OK, slightly dangerous.  A little danger is exciting. But I digress...

My point (heh, heh) is that sometimes it helps to try new things and to be open to change.  I think I may drive my family a tiny bit crazy, always trying to improve things and make things better/cleaner/more organized/more cost effective/more efficient.  (Don't ask them about how I tried to re-invent Christmas last year.  They aren't really ready to talk about it yet.  It's still too fresh.)  Some improvements work out though, and those are the ones that give me hope.  I love how my knitting is looking with both my new Nickel Plated and my new Sunstruck Wood.  I'm no longer strictly a Bamboo Girl.  And I'm ok with that.

*high quality luxury yarn = LYDIA Yarn. It's wonderful!