Monday, April 25, 2011

Happiness is...

I learned to knit on a pair of size 11, Clover bamboo straights.

"If you are going to knit, you are going to knit with good tools," Knitting Teacher told me as she pulled the needles down off the top shelf at Joanne's.  "Bamboo warms in your hands and gets smoother as you use it."  I really liked the idea of a tool that became personalized as you used it, so I kept track of my needles and check how smooth they had gotten after every crooked scarf.  I wondered if I could knit so much that the letters carved into the middle of the needle could be rubbed off and vowed to try.

For the next several years I never even looked at other needles, with the exception of a pack of metal size 8 double-points that slipped out of my knitting if I sneezed too hard or lifted my project off the table at just the right angle.  It took me a while to realize bamboo was not the most prized needle among knitters, and that many knitters weren't thrilled with bamboo; it bent in the smaller sizes, it didn't have a sharp enough point, they dented, they broke too easy, the cat could eat them.  Addi Turbo was where it was at; every pair brought into Smith's (before Smith's had them in, that is) was passed around the table and fondled like a high priced skein of cashmere.  In fact, the only person who didn't like Addi Turbos that I knew of was Grumperina.  She didn't just dislike them, she called them names: Addi Stumpos for their blunt tips.  It felt like blasphemy.

So I tried other needles.  I bought myself some Knit Picks sock needles; they were very stabby, made my hands cramp, and tightened my gauge too much.  I inherited a whack of Susan Bates; colorful, but too easy to pull out mid-project. I borrowed some Addi Turbo for a weekend; too slick and indeed, too blunt.  I knit a few rounds with Signatures on Sparkle's socks; awesome grip, but too pointy (I push my needles a lot with my pointer finger).  I tried enough that I couldn't be accused of not trying.

And so I came back to bamboo (Clover, specifically) for all the reasons that people shied away from it: it was soft, it was warm, it bent, it had just the right amount of grab, and the points were Just Right.  (Since I have no cats, I was not concerned about my needles being edible.)

I suppose the ultimate moral of the story that can be applied outside knitting is "To each his/her own."  Really, who but you (or the people who buy you knitting supplies) cares what needles you use?  No one.  Not even the airports (see Yarn Harlot).  What tools you use don't matter, as long as you get the job done.  I just find it very interesting that for such a simple act, pulling loops of yarn through other loops of yarn, there are so many different tools to get that done and so many different people who have their own unique tastes.


Fortunately for me, Cory likes metal needles for all the reasons I don't and I like bamboo needles for all the reasons she doesn't.  ("I really want to get another pair of Signatures" she says randomly as I type this) Needle swap!

Metal needles not pictured.

Maybe now this sock will get done in a timely fashion, since I wasn't knitting on it because of the metal needles I was using.  Sometimes happiness is a bamboo needle.

No comments: