Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Knitting Tool Profiles: Straight Needles

This is the fifth post in a year-long series1. I'll post a new one on the last Tuesday of every month, with facts, photos, and further resources about twelve knitting tools.

If you are using a yarn that easily splits and shreds, you will want to use needles with blunt shaped tips to prevent injury to the yarn. If you are making a lace with lots of knit-two-togethers and slip-knit-passovers, you will want to use needles with sharpley pointed tips to prevent injury to your disposition.

-Maggie Righetti, Knitting in Plain English

A selection of straight needles.
Clockwise from the top left: Needlelite light up needles,Giant needles by Loopy Mango giant knitting needles size 50 (25mm) in 24'' and 32'' length, made in U.S.A., Brittany birch needles (photo by Danni Carlsen Photography), and Swirled glass needles photo and knitting needles by Jesse Wiesner of Bending Flow Designs

What is it?
Straight needles come either single or double pointed. Single pointed have a point at one end and a cap of some sort at the other. Double pointed have points at both ends.

Fun Facts
  • Looking to linguistic evidence, knitting is a fairly new invention. According to the OED, the verb to knit was added to English in the 1400s.
  • "Further poking around will reveal that any term meaning 'to knit', specifically make loops with two long, straight needles, wasn't in any European language before the Renaissance." -from Julia Theaker on Knitty
  • The craft of nålebinding predates both knitting and crochet. In English, nålebinding is sometimes referred to as one-needle knitting.
  • According to Wikipedia, the oldest type of knitting needle is the dpn.
  • Antique needles were often made with materials that are now banned for the protection of animals: tortoiseshell, ivory, and walrus tusk.
  • Today, you can get needles in a vast array of materials that suit any different number of needs and preferences: bamboo, plastic, steel, wood, even glass, casein, and carbon fibres.
  • "There is no 'all-purpose' or 'one-size-fits-all' kind of tip shape. The tip shape you choose for a particular project will depend upon what yarn you are using ans what you are doing wit it. There is no 'good' and 'bad' kind of tip." Maggie Righetti, Knitting in Plain English, p 27.
  • June Hemmons Hiatt touches on one of the flaws of straight, single pointed needles: "While the formation of each stitch requires relatively slight movements at the point, the result is a rather large motion at the opposite end, and the longer the needle, the larger the motion." The Principles of Knitting
  • She also discusses double pointed needles as the oldest form of knitting needle. "The knitters of Shetland are known to use just three needles, two for the stitches and one to work with, but that seems to be a unique approach; they also preferred 14- to 18-inch needles when using a knitting belt or sheath."

Further Reading
History of Knitting 101 from Knitty
Knitting Needle from Wikipedia
History of Knitting from Wikipedia

Bending Flow Designs
Loopy Mango
Brittany Needles
1Read the others here.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

What about all the references to knitting in the bible? Is it just newer to the English language or is the word loosely translated?