Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I'm loving the new needles

I may have said this before but there was a time when I would have been very surprised indeed to find myself enthusing over a set of knitting needles. 

After all, since amalgamating all my mother's and mother-in-law's needles, I could be said to have more than enough

But so many knitting friends (not to mention the lady in my local wool shop) have been extolling the virtues of Knit Pro interchangeable needles.  The cables come separately in several lengths and the needles in every size  imaginable, all ready to screw into the right length cable for the work in hand.

Well for Plug and Play Pembrokeshire we were asked to bring our own needles (if you read my last post you will already know that the lovely Brenda and Amy provided everything else!).  So - here we have it - the ideal excuse for a treat.

The starter kit had three sizes of needles and I added size 3mm as extra - we were after all going to knit lace.  Well, I knew they were Very Pretty and with all the interchangeability (including the option to use the set in the manner of two long needles using a on one end of each cable) Very Practical but it was not till I began knitting my lace that I found out how Fabulous they are to knit with.

For me knitting is all about tactile pleasures.  In the wool shop, I trail my hand over the alpaca, touch my cheek with the cashmere and test the pure organic wool against my neck for scratchiness, all the while following Elizabeth Zimmerman's advice to pass by the acrylics with my nose in the air.  When I sit down to knit with one of these gorgeous fibres I let out a yoga like sigh of relaxation.  But what joy to find needles that add to the pleasure.  These beauties are so smooth and shiny that the yarn positively glides over them as if on oiled wheels - sooo brilliant. I would like to say that I will never knit with anything else again but it will take me awhile to collect a full set

The Zimmermann project - Part 3

Although I haven't mentioned my Zimmermann sweater for a couple of weeks I am still making progress.  I have completed the body as far as the armholes, simply miles of straight knitting, currently parked on my longest new Knit Pro cable with stoppers on both ends

And have begun the sleeves.  I ripped out my first attempt.  The instructions, to cast on 20% of the body-stitches making the first increase (M1 each side of three stitches marking the underarm) after four rounds then every following fourth round gave me too tight a fore arm.  Not that it didn't fit but I didn't like the look of something so close fitting, particularly as in winter my father wears his sweaters over long sleeved shirts.  

So I began again, still with 40 stitches for the rib (20% of 200) but increased ten stitches evenly over the last rib row then began the increases as described by EZ.  I have also used the two cable needle method to knit both sleeves together in the round for the first time.  Thank you U-Tube! where every knitting technique is explained.  Actually to begin with it was not as simple as it looks in this video clip. I kept getting the yarn looped the wrong way around the needles and the two balls twined around themselves.  On Sunday night, knitting while watching Spooks I managed to knit all the stitches onto one cable, I've no idea how I did that!  But eventually I got the hang of it sticking to three rules

  • follow the needle back to its end each time you change from front to back - you are aiming for two Os one along side the other not a figure of eight
  • hold the needle with the stitches you are about to knit close to the cable with the 'just knitted' stitches - this stops a ladder forming at the changeover point
  • Keep the yarn you are not knitting with at the back of the work

I began making this sweater before I knew the joy of my new cable needles and on a size I don't yet have (4.5) but hopefully when I get to the yoke my local yarn shop will have got the 4.5s back in stock and I can finish the project in style.  

I know I shall have more stitches than I should have when I reach the point of joining sleeves to the body and knitting up the yoke but I will deal with that when I come to it (and let you know!)




Angela said...

These Harmony Wood needles are the only ones that will Knit estonian lace efficiently. I had a terrible time executing the nupps until I tried these. They made easy work of them.

Francesca said...

I hardly knit with anything other the wooden KnitPro - I'm allergic to nickel, so I should stay away from metal needles.

These are so versatile, and great with lace too. :)

Anonymous said...

Be careful with your tension if you do change the needles - you can have a very different tension with wood than with metal.

My favourite needles are Addi circulars, especially the lace needles. They make interchangeables too but it's very expensive for the set! I have most of them in an 80cm length which is useful for most things if I use the magic loop technique.

Tracy said...

I love these needles too. They feel so nice to knit with and the colours make me feel good every time I pick them up. My mother has swapped to them too and while tells me that it is much better for arthritis not to be knitting with metal. I don't suppose that is a problem for you yet but it is yet another excuse to buy bamboo needles if you want to take the long view!

Catherine said...

Such interesting (and interested comments) here - thank you. Actually Tracy arthritis could be a problem so I shall bear this in mind. And the tension issue Sarah, perhaps I shall contain my enthusiasm until I have a totally new project to knit!

And Yes Francesca and Angela, the first experience of my new needles was with lace, perhaps that's why I found them so good!