The Wonders of Interchangeable Needles
July 8, 2010
I would like to think my evolution of knitting needles is not too different from the average knitter. As previously mentioned, I (for the most part) taught myself to knit. So I picked up a kit from a big box store; a kit that included metal needles. Once I gained some knowledge and did some research, I started to wander from the apron strings of my kit and tried wooden needles as well as plastic . I fell, hard, for bamboo. But one day, after a desperate search for a LYS in my area, I was wandering through the small yarn store and discovered my first set of interchangeable knitting needles. While I had not yet attempted to "Knit in the Round" (That should be heard in your head with an ominous echo for emphasis), I was intrigued. Even more so when the shop owner showed me how you could attach the end caps and have really long and weird straight needles. I snatched them up right there. A short time later I learned that it is possible to knit straight on circulars without joining in the round and without the weirdness. My mind was, officially, blown! Since that day I have always knit on interchangeable needles. I repeat, ALWAYS. Straight knitting and round. Magic loop or knitting round on 2 needles. There has never been a project that they do not work for me. I shun the use DPNs. I do not like small diameter knitting with them. I use mine for cable needles and icord. Interchangeable serve as circulars, straight needles, stitch holders, and you are able to expand your cable without removing your project or switching needles. There is no need to buy a size 7 circular in 5 different length cables. One project no longer monopolizes needles. If you have a sweater and a blanket knitted with size 10, but you really want to work on the blanket, simply detach your needles from the sweater, add end caps and attach your needles to the blanket. You can switch back and forth in minutes or cast on a third.
I would recommend Interchangeables to beginners as a cost saver and building their tool box. However, they should have some knowledge of needles. Namely which material they prefer: wood, plastic, bamboo, metal. Also, give some thought to the cable. Some cables are thicker and have more memory, while others are thinner and have less memory. The thickness of a cable is important in accommodating smaller needle sizes and use for Magic Loop knitting. Memory means: does the cable hold its shape or is it loose, flexible and easily shaped to your project. This is important in allowing your project to move on the cable as well as Magic Loop.
I would definitely recommend Interchangeables to more experienced knitters because they are so simple. All your needles are in one place (or in my case 2 places: in the case & in different projects all over the house). Since more experienced knitters are more likely to add to their collection to fill it out, a set of Interchangeables will save them money.
Interchangeables can vary in price from cheap to very expensive but the variety of projects they allow you to work right out of the gate make them a value from day one and continues 20 years down the road. Invest in a needle and cable set that you can see yourself working with for years.
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