Maybe you’ve learned the ins and outs of knitting supplies by trial and error. Maybe you instinctively worked a knitting project without the technical mumbo jumbo and know which knitting needles to use with which yarn to make what kind of cable, gauge, or size.
But with the support of the many knitting books, blogs, and knitting supply online sites dedicated to knitters, you might just prefer to consult an outside source for some interesting, specific knitting supply details.
Knitting needles come in several sizes, types, and materials, and are chosen in accordance with yarn weight and pattern gauge desired.
The size, or diameter, of knitting needles will determine the gauge—the number of stitches and rows per inch in a knitted piece:
- The size, or diameter, is different brand by brand
- Metric sizes—The millimetre size equals the needle diameter.
Likewise, the needle type or style will determine the garment or piece knitted:
- Single point needles range in length from 9 to 14 inches, to accommodate stitched rows. Single point knitting needles are typically used for flat knitting
- Circular needles, ranging in cable lengths from 12 to 60 inches, are used for balance (to maintain an evenly distributed weight of knitted project—to reduce the stress on wrist joints); for more flexibility; and comfort. Circular knitting needles are also only used for the stockinette stitch (knit stitches only), so knitting is faster.
- Double-point needles range in length from 4 to 18 inches and are most often used for circular knitting—for smaller pieces such as kids’ wear, mittens, socks, toys, sleeves, collars, and hats, as well as sweaters, table linens, and doilies.
- Flex needles—like cable needles but with an end stopper—are used in lieu of straight needles for knitting flat pieces. Flex knitting needles are more compact, more wrist-friendly, and becoming more popular as needles which also take the burden of weight off the wrists and keep it on the knitter’s lap.
The material of knitting needles determines ease and comfort for the knitter:
- Bamboo needles are lighter than aluminium needles, are warmer to the touch, and are not as slippery.
- Metal needles are heavier and make a lovely clicking sound when use in knitting.
- Plastic needles are flexible and just as durable as metal ones.
Most commercial yarns are plied—4-ply, 5-ply, 8-ply, 10-ply, 12-ply, and 14-ply the most common. The garment weight and size (or thickness) is determined by the number of plies, which make up a variety of thicknesses called weights—of super fine; fine; light; medium; bulky; and super bulky classes.
A number of stitch patterns are the resulting design of any number of knit (k) and purl (p) combinations. These patterns include everything from the basic stockinette to the more involved rice stitch to the elaborate seven sisters cable stitch.
In addition, patterns for specific garments (using one or more of the many such above-named stitches) are available as work charts. These patterns use a knitters language—a series of abbreviations that you can learn by checking out our Knitting Glossary, for starters.
While it appears there are so many knitting supplies to be collected that you will break your pocketbook, the knitting craft is actually quite affordable. Not accounting for the much-loved time and effort, a knitted piece will be much more affordable than a store-bought design, and will, because it is hand made with love and care, trump the purchased option every time!