Finding the Right Tool for the Job

August 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Posted in Knitting | 1 Comment

Remember this?

Maltese Shawl from Victorian Lace Today

Yes, my Maltese Shawl from Victorian Lace Today is growing, albeit slowly. I really enjoy knitting the pattern, but finding the right needles to help me with that turned out to be an adventure. The first try was using my trusty Addi Click needles. While there’s usually no problem using the interchangeable needle tips from Addi, the joins are definitely not smooth, and working with this lace-weight yarn was simply impossible, since it kept snagging at the joins all the time. So after a couple of rows I switched to a fixed Addi needle of the same size (at the top):

Lace Needles

They’re nice, shiny, the yarn moves smoothly over the needle, but for this kind of lacework, the tips aren’t pointy enough. This pattern has lace stitches in every row, so you end up having to purl stitches together when one of the stitches is a yarn over. Trying to do that with blunt needles leads to lots of cursing and severe lack of motivation.

So, I needed another option. My LYS just got some Addi Lace needles (middle of picture) that are ostensibly designed for this kind of knitting, so I got myself one of those. The tips are nice and pointy, so the lace stitches immediately became much easier to work. But, the gold-coloured coating of those needles tarnishes really fast (there’s almost no reflection of the flash on the photo, and I haven’t knit more than maybe 10cm of the shawl with it), and when that happens, the stitches stop to slide easily on the needles. I had to work all the time to get the stitches to move to where I needed them. No wonder I started to ignore the project in favour of others.

I needed another option. I had heard the KnitPro (KnitPicks for any Americans) needles (bottom of picture) have good tips and a smooth surface, so I decided to give those a try. This is another system with exchangeable tips, but the joins are constructed differently so they’re smooth. And they’re pretty, too. You can see the tip geometry is almost identical to the Addi Lace needle. I tried them out, and yay, the fourth needle I tried for this project finally does the trick!

This was a really good lesson to remind me that using the appropriate tool for a job can make all the difference between fun and tedium. If something obviously doesn’t work, try something else! This is a good thing to keep in mind for hardware tools of all kinds as well as software. If something seems to be more difficult than it should be, check if you’re using the optimal tool for the job!

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  1. […] this adorable orang-utan. I decided to make this up using the orange Malabrigo Lace leftovers from this project. (Hmm, looks like I never posted the finished shawl. Must rectify that […]


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