The needles and hooks in my collection are varied and diverse for a good reason: they are used in different situations. There are three main factors to how I choose one particular needle over another: size, material, and tip.
For me, size refers to both the hook or needle size and the actual length of the tool. In the first case, I tend to work loosely and often need to significantly alter my needle choice to meet required gauge. I work my initial swatch with the stated needle or hook so I then know how I need to make alternations.
Yes, I care about the length of my tools. For the most part, I prefer my knitting needle tips on circulars and interchangeables to be short, about 4 inches is my current favourite. I find this length fits comfortably in my hands and I work quicker and more efficiently.
Others have written extensively and eloquently about how Needle Material Affects Gauge. In addition, I have a preference for needle material based on what I’m knitting and I’ll work harder to use certain needles with particular fibers. Slippery yarns like tools that grip them if you’re working anything other than a stockinette or garter stitch.
For crochet I am particular about the handle as most of my hooks use similar materials at the hook. When I first began to crochet as a child there was only one option for a handle, though I recall adding a pencil grip to make it more comfortable for lengthy projects. It’s very nice today with many options for hooks and handles; I like wider handles especially when I’m working a delicate stitch on a fine yarn.
The tip I choose depends significantly on the stitch I’m working and the yarn and fibers I’m using. Lace knitting is often easier with a pointy sharp tip. Granny squares are quite versatile and work with a range of hooks. Sometimes I want a very sharp tip, at others that isn’t a critical factor.
Different materials can affect the tips and my choice. This week I’m working on an open and airy crochet design, with a beautiful fingering weight yarn and a relatively straightforward stitch. However, I’m facing a deadline and I do wish I had a different hook. Others have written about tips, please see nerdigurumi, fresh stitches, and knitters review.
What about an iron?
We’ve been looking for a replacement tip for the soldering iron for a while now. It looks that they’ve made minute adjustments in the manufacturing process and we’re no longer able to acquire the part that fits our iron. It’s very difficult to do detail work when you’re using this blunt tip! So it looks like we’ll need to replace the entire iron, it’s not expensive, but it’s very frustrating!
What’s my favourite needle or hook?
It depends. When I have chosen the right combination of yarn, stitch, needle or hook, and deadline it’s a beautiful combination. Feel free to experiment.