Circular needles, varying and interchangeable lengths thereof

Tom Hart's picture

OK, I’m an ignorant novice. So with that said, I do not understand the whole varying-and-interchangeable-lengths-of-cables-for-circular-needles thing. Doesn’t the magic loop discovery make all of that moot and completely unnecessary? The only circs I own are 60” addis in various sizes. And so far they’ve worked for any circular project I’ve done. If I’m working on a sock pattern that calls for a set-up on three dpns I follow the pattern exactly as written and just pull out three loops and presto! I’ve got a 3-dpn set-up.

When I read here or on Ravelry about people spending significant amounts of cash on needles and cables that have to be hooked up to each other and that sometimes there are problems with them such as the yarn catching on a join or a connection coming loose and other people trying to explain how to insert paper shims into the join or some other in-home repair process on a tool that’s just cost someone a fairly large number of dollars I get that fingernails on a blackboard feeling.

What is it about interchangeable lengths of cable on a circular needle that makes it worth the expense and the trouble of bad connections? How are they better than one long addi?

Comments

Tallguy's picture

As I've said many times

As I've said many times before, you really only need ONE set of needles -- the circulars -- and on a very long cable. You will be able to do everything with them, even fingers of gloves with a 60" circular.

However, as with all things, it all depends on what you learned on first. If it was straight needles, then that is what you will tend to use. If it was circulars (as I tend to teach), then that is what you will use most often. I'm not saying it is wrong to use dpns or straight needles, but when you are looking for the most economical and the most versatile, I would go with long circulars every time. It is nice to know how to use all the others as well, for those times when you need to -- it all adds to your toolbox of tools.

I like the knitpicks interchangeable circulars. The cables are very soft, and don't have those annoying kinks. I've never had any problem with the joins, although some people say they do. It all depends on how you treat them, I would say.

I do like the Magic Loop and have used it for many of my knitting projects. Again, whatever you have learned. I also do two socks at a time on one circular, using ML. Not a problem.

When patterns are written for socks on 3 needles, you need to understand that this was during a time when it was cheaper to make a set of four needles rather than the proper 5. So Americans had to learn how to knit tubes with 3 needles (in a triangle) even though it is better to have your sock in a square on 4 needles, or even circs. I still put my sock with only two sides using the ML, or even using 2 shorter circs, or sometimes 4 dpns. It doesn't matter -- what you need to concentrate on is which stitches are the front and the back, and work them according to the chosen pattern. How many needles you have doesn't make any difference -- but of course, the fewer the better.

I started knitting with only a couple of needles. As time went on, I acquired a few more, from various places. And then more, and of different materials, and types. Now I have more than I will ever need, and tend to use only a couple of my favourites. The rest are nice to have, just as a collection, but are not really necessary for me to do good knitting. I don't think I've used the single point for several years; I always choose to use circs. Once you know how to knit, you can use virtually anything and still produce acceptable results. But I gotta say -- using really good quality materials makes the work just so much more enjoyable. If it works for you, great. But be open enough to change tools when circumstances demand it.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Everybody makes good points

Everybody makes good points with what they say. I really like my dpns and use them a lot, especially with small projects. Still, as Q and others have said, it mainly is what works best for you and your budget. I've come to use Magic Loop and 2-circulars for some projects but that's because that is what works best - especially if I'm traveling. However, that is because I'm afraid of losing a dpn and the one set of sock needles are English steel needles that were a gift from a very dear friend and are about 120 years old and belonged to her grandmother. So, figure out what works best for you and never look back. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Stan Stansbury's picture

I am a big fan of the magic

I am a big fan of the magic loop. Principally because I drop DPNs. I have dropped a DPN on a BART car and had it roll halfway down the car. I have dropped a DPN on the bus, and had it get stuck in a crevice. I have dropped DPNs in cafes, and never noticed until I got home 1 needle short, with a bunch of loose stitches. All of those are simply impossible with the magic loop.
I also find that my work ladders less with magic loop than with DPNs.
I think that whatever method you use, there's some needle management involved. And it all depends on what kind of needle management you want to do.

Tom Hart's picture

Thanks for all the comments,

Thanks for all the comments, Lads! It's given me something to think about. The loop can be a little aggravating at times, especially when the loops are really large. If I ever win the lottery I think I'll buy a set of Addi Clicks. They do sound pretty fab.

Masala's picture

Tom, thanks for posting

Tom, thanks for posting this! Actually I've been enlightened by all of this information! So, I've learned a great deal too! Cheers, Sid

steve kadel's picture

i love my addis though i

i love my addis though i wish they came in smaller needle sizes. tried magic loop and was too clumsy at it and never got the stitches to not looked stretched out where i did the pull through

i'm only angry when i'm NOT knitting

Bill's picture

Love double points! ...there

Love double points! ...there is a learning curve...but once you're comfortable with them...things go smoothly. I find magic loop awkward, and fiddly.

bobinthebul's picture

I was a bit put off by the

I was a bit put off by the price of Addy's set and had read various good things about the Knitpicks needles. Asked a friend about them - she said she absolutely loves Addys, and also said that the Knitpicks joints tended to fail after a while. Not something you want to happen when you are in the middle of a big lace project. Or any project for that matter!

I've used magic loop and do like it for some things, but for some things I'm just as happy with DPNs. What I have not been successful with is using two circular needles as some do for socks; I keep getting my ends confused and it just seems too fiddly for me. When I sit and analyze it, it should be less fiddly than magic loop, but not when you accidentally knit onto the wrong needle. ;)

DeceptiveCookie's picture

I love all my

I love all my interchangeable needle sets (Addi, Knitpicks Harmony Wood, and Denise), and although I have been known to magic loop some projects, I really hate doing it. It's fidgety and involves too much unneccessary pulling and looping forward. I hate how much it slows you down.

The magic loop definitely has its place, though. I normally use it to avoid using DPN's- usually projects smaller than 16" around.

In the end, Q is right... it's all about preferences.

AKQGuy's picture

Preference preference

Preference preference preference with probably a lot of economics thrown in. As you can see from the previous posts, some people just don't care for magic loop. It simply doesn't work well for them. I myself on projects like a hat see the circular need as a waste of time. I'm going to have to go down to double points anyway, so I might as well start there. Some people are scared of double points so they use other methods. The point is, we all knit differently, have different ways of basic knit functions and therefore have favorite ways to do things. A Purly mentioned, his friend has a problem I've seen before. She probably twists her needles in manner most of us do not and pops her tips off. As in most things in the fiber world, and as I've found the world in general, we all have our preferences and you've found yours that not only works for you, but also your wallet.

Q

Britannic's picture

As the others have said,

As the others have said, it's a preference. I've tried to use the Magic Loop method and I find it uncomfortable and confusing. I like having the right length cable for the right job at the right time. I have 2 sets of each needle size in the sizes I use the most 6 through 9 and two of each cord length. I rarely have two projects running at the same time that require the same size circulars. I find the spring-loaded joins of Addi Clicks far superior to the other interchangeable needles that I have tried. I have never had the join come apart and I have yet to have any yarn get stuck on them.

I have only known one person to have trouble with the Addi Clicks coming apart and she will admit she's odd and it's probably how she knits that's the problem and not the needles.

purlyman's picture

I have Addi Clicks and

I have Addi Clicks and Denise. I really love them both. I think it's basically a preference of knitting with length of cable needed over knitting with the magic loop. It does sound like using the magic loop is a much more economical option though. I've tried learning how to do it and using but I don't really care for it myself.

Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog I

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog
I like my addi clicks a lot, and I like them because iot is easy for me to change needles and cord length if I choose. Given the fact that I own lots of addi circulars as well. I own a set from knit picks, the harmony and was not impressed at all. The joint sometimes is too tight. A set of CLicks for me was a good investment because I use them a lot. I don't care for magic loop, but I see your point. In the end If you buy a set of interexchangeable needles you need two or three sets of cables, otherwise you are not going to have problems.

We got to test the Clicks at Skacell, so I can tell you they go through a very rigorous testing. These people care about the wquality of their product and about their customers. I think is the best investment I have made in my needles so far.