this might be a doozy for a monday morning, so grab a coffee and get comfy…
and i know some of you do as well. but i also know that many here do not. for those who do, please don’t feel i’m being obvious. this is written mostly for those who don’t knit. and my reasons are selfish.
i want to talk about knitting. and i want people who don’t knit to know what i’m talking about. i know i may sound like i’m in my own world sometimes (it’s nice in here, eh? thanks for joining me!) but i’m not completely delusional and think that everyone either
a) wants to knit
b) just needs be convinced that hand-knit items are way better than factory-made (though they are).
but with this being my little slice of the interweb, i’m allowed to daydream here. perhaps i’ll inspire a non-knitter to pick up some needles and knit something one day. i can at the very least imagine that i can one day convince one skeptical and reluctant person that they haven’t really lived til they’ve worn a pair of well made handknit socks (if this is you, and you know who you are, leave your shoe size in the comments below and wait a few months).
but til that day, i’ll just stick with my first goal of having people know what i’m talking about. also, keep in mind that this is just my take on things. there are many good online resources for knitters of all levels, many tutorials, videos, forums… i’ve listed a few of my favourite links at the bottom of this post.
knitting needles. there are all kinds. the most basic is the straight needle. they have one pointy end, and a little nub at the other end to keep the stitches from falling off.
they come in a variety of materials, such as plastic, aluminum, steel, or (my favourite for most projects) bamboo.
and as pretty as those colours are, i like bamboo because they are light, the yarn doesn’t slip off them too easily, and they’re… well, earthy. light some patchouli will ya?
knitting needles come in different sizes, and the size refers to the diameter, or thickness, of the needle.
usually two sizes are present for each pair of needles. one is in metric units, which makes lovely mathematical sense and is usually measured in millimetres. the other measurement is wacky units, and may be loosely related to king louis XVI’s shoe size. i really don’t know and i don’t feel like looking it up right now.
straight needles are used for most straight-forward knitting of garments. things like scarves, sweaters, blankets. mostly flat items (there are always exceptions).
these are double-pointed needles. they usually come in sets of 4 to 6 per size.
you’ll notice they don’t have a little nub at the end like straight needles. that’s because the stitches are needed to “fall off the end” (in an orderly manner, preferably onto the other working needle). double-pointed needles are usually used to make things “in the round”… so think of a tubular item, like a sock, or a skirt, that is knit without a seam. round and round.
you can see some mitten cuffs here in progress on double-pointed needles.
don’t let the number of needles intimidate you. you still only use two needles at a time, while the other needles just hold the other stitches in place til you get to them.
another way to knit “in the round” is by using circular needles. these are needles attached together by a length of pliable nylon or flexible cord.
the size refers to both the needle diameter, and the length of the needle/cord combo, measured from the tip of one needle to the tip of the other. so the ones in the photo below are 4.5 millimeters thick and 60 centimeters long.
you’d use a longer length for things like knitting a skirt, and a shorter length for things like knitting the collar on a sweater.
here is a project in progress on circular needles…
and when finished, it becomes this cowl:
oh wait, no, that’s not a cowl. that’s an excuse to show off my knitting. (sorry)
you can also use circular needles as you would straight needles for flat projects. i’m doing just that for my latest project. i’ll share photos when it’s done. sometimes, circular needles are preferred by knitters simply because there’s less likelihood to lose that 2nd needle in the space behind the couch cushion. it’s all kept together in one tidy bundle.
there are other techniques, too, like using two sets of circular needles together and the magic loop method to knit smaller diameter projects. don’t worry about those things just yet. i threw those in there to keep the knitters amongst us slightly interested. (i could sense their fidgety fingers reaching to click their way out of here. we can be a flighty bunch, us knitters. our hands are always itching for the next thing…)
so straight needles, double-pointed needles, and circular needles. there are many varieties within each of those categories, but those are the main three.
and of course, as with most things, there are a lot of doodads that go with knitting:
those are my crochet hooks on the left – yet another story – and my fibre doodads on the right. the ruler off to the side is what i want to talk about next.
it’s a handy little tool for determining needle size. most straight needles have the size stamped on the needle somewhere. but double-pointed and circular needles don’t always have the size listed. and unless you carefully store them in the case in which you got the needles, there’s a good chance you’ll lose track of the size. this tool lets you pop a needle into the hole, and you get the reading in both metric and wacky units.
more doodads…not totally necessary for knitting, but useful nonetheless.
so that’s basically it.
stay tuned for part 2, where i talk about what i do with my circulars when they misbehave and get all bent out of shape…
…some knitting resources…
do you have a favourite knitting-related site to share?© imadeitso, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to ana at imadeitso.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.