A Needling Journey

What does your needle stash look like?  Mine represents my learning curve in the craft and my journey to the discovery of what tools work best for me.  Not pictured are all the accessories like extra cables, connectors, etc . . . .
These are the needles that started it all.  Just a standard set of aluminum straight needles, they came with the clearance sale "learn to knit" kit, and they safely saw me through those first few projects.  At this time they are sentimental keepsakes, and every so often I'll pull them out and whip out something small - just for the reminder of how far I've come.
Based on my immediate love of the craft and my newfound knowledge that there are different size needles to be used for different yarn weights and different projects, I scoured the internet until I found a clearance sale on needles.  And I promptly ordered a "full set" of straight needles.  My learn to knit book advised that the larger the needle the faster the project (it did not explain gauge or yarn weight) so I zeroed in on larger sizes - US6 or 4.0mm up through US50 or 50.0mm - and as you'll see some have never been used.  I though that the aluminum needles that came with my kit were indicative of the type of needle to use, so I focused on that material - and only moved to plastic for the larger diameter needles when aluminum simply wasn't available.  This total lot including the tax, shipping, etc . . . . cost me $15 so I don't feel too bad about the purchase.

However, I quickly understood that 14" long straight needles were on super clearance because they are unwieldly and not a good choice for much of anything.  And I just as quickly moved beyond the basics of knitting and needed not only smaller diameter needles, but wanted to knit in the round.

I'd destash this group of needles if I thought it would be of use to someone - I have yet to find anywhere to donate them, that's how useless they really are. 

Which brings me to the next step in my needle exploration - the Boye interchangeable set.  I think this set may be in existance in every knitter's household.  It actually served me well for about a year and a half.  The needle tips are aluminum like I had been used to, and the set covers almost every needle diameter except the very tiny and the very large.  This set is the set I used to learn how to knit in the round and I even learned to magic loop.  Having the needle sizes be different colors helped a ton as I explored different techniques like knitting in the round with two circular needles - which became a favorite technique of mine with this set.  Things I eventually learned were that the joins were terrible, rough and almost impossible to secure for a larger project even with the grips and the key, and that the cables were completely too stiff for intricate work.  The set earned it's keep and remains to this day in pristine condition in it's case.

As my experience and confidence built up, I moved to more complicated projects and more luxury fibers.  I found the joys of fingering weight yarns and I wanted to try different needles.  
Enter the eclectic set of Knitter's Pride interchangeable tips and cables that I acquired in a destash sale.  I thought it would be perfect for me - needle diameters in the smaller ranges, and a bunch of materials to try out at a low cost.  There were Harmony wood, clear acrylic, and nickel plated needles.  With cables in 24" and 32" lengths.  I couldn't wait to cast on with them and I think I made it through one project switching out the types of needle tips to determine that I hated them all.  The cables were stiff and the joins were worse than the Boye set.  It may have been a purchase I could have regretted, but a few months later they found their niche in my tool kit. These are my go-to stitch holders for sleeves and things.  It's great to have such an easy to use set to move my stitches to - the cable stops are large and secure, and using the tips makes it quick and painless to move the needles from live cable to stitch holder and back.  The grouping here has earned it's keep and then some for the price I paid.  They go in every sweater project bag, and I love having them around for that purpose.

Taking the plunge into a more costly set of interchangeable needles was a big step for me.  But I justified it pretty easily.  By now I was hooked on the craft, I had proven that I could make pretty things, and I felt comfortable that I understood what I liked and disliked, and I began to research the  options out there.  I landed on HiyaHiya for a few reasons - the stainless steel sharp tips, the swivel cables, the cases, and the price point.  I also liked the way their joins were made - no key tightening required.  Of course I waited for a sale and scooped up a small set and a large set and then paced the house and stalked the mailperson until they arrived.

These were my nirvana of needles.  I couldn't have asked for better for myself and I wondered how I had knit anything on other needles at all.  So very quickly after the first sets arrived, a second set of each followed.  Now I could do anything I wanted and always had the right needle size on hand and available.  And the easy storage right in the cases as is works perfectly - these are in their 3rd year of servitude and they have travelled around the world with me, worked up just about any kind of project and experienced all the standard disasters and they are still perfect.  I don't use anything else.

Remember my issues with gauge?  (See that post here.)  During that journey I read that wood needles tighten up your gauge and since that was my goal, I picked up a set of HiyaHiya Bamboo interchangeables.

Oh boy did I hate these.  Not the set itself, but the material of the needles.  Bamboo and I did not get along.  It slowed my knitting down to a crawl and made the whole experience miserable.  My hands got hot while using them and the heat caused the metal to swell which in turn caused the yarn to stick and not move.  I powered through the single project I had cast on and promptly destashed this entire set.  I found my preferred set of tools and shouldn't have strayed.

So why are there more needles in my stash?  I was determined to knit socks, taught myself the techniques and realized I needed needles smaller than the US2, 2.75mm needles that my HiyaHiya sets had.
I took the opportunity to try some fixed needles in the teeny tiny diameters - down to US000, 1.5mm needles.  I heard so many people raving about Chiaogoo and Addi Turbo needles that I just had to try them.  And while I liked the Chiaogoo needles, I found their cables to be stiffer than I preferred and those got moved to the back of the line.  The Addis were ok I guess, but the nickel plating felt funny to me and even a bit sticky in comparison to the stainless steel needles I had come to love.  I ended up back at HiyaHiya as my go-to for all needles.

It may have been my experimenting with these needles that made me realize that I may not like magic loop as much as I thought.  Even with the super flexible Addi cables I wasn't happy with the pulling on my stitches and I wanted something different.  I had tried double pointed needles (DPNs) way back when I first started knitting and thought it was the equivalent of wrestling an octopus, but maybe it was time to try again.

I ended up enjoying the process of knitting socks on DPNs and now have more US0, 2.0mm, needles than I should ever need in my lifetime.  I tried bamboo, squares from Kollage, and Chiaogoo, and surprise, surprise, I ended up back to HiyaHiya sharps.  And then I filled out the set as I needed different sizes for hats and sleeves and other small diameter knitting projects.

Phew, I'm done, right?  There can't be anything else?  Oh, but there is!!

I started to do more intricate work with lace and found I was missing small diameter needles with cable lengths long enough and flexible enough for magic loop.  In between my fixed needle purchases and this point, several brands had released mini interchangeable sets going down to the teeny tiny sizes.  This time there was no waffling - right to my brand of choice, and as I've come to expect I was delighted.  The cables are even more flexible than the standard ones, and the joins are seamless.  These have been used in several of my projects now - primarily the complicated Polish Brioche techniques I've recently explored.  I'm finding joy in magic loop again where previously I've avoided it in favor of DPNs.

These have been the most recent additions to the stash, and in theory should be the last.  I've tried others - I was super excited to try Karbonz - and I covet some of the luxury or pretty needles - but in the end I need to stick with what I love and what works for me.  

What did your needle journey look like and what are the tools that make you happy?

*Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation to the brands or products I write about, I am simply a consumer with a story to tell.