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Types of Needles for Knitting
Straight double pointed needles are the oldest type of knitting needles used. The needles have points at each end which will enable you to knit from either end. They are used for knitting a seamless tube. They are shorter than the straight needles and circular needles.
They are used in sets of five. Two are active, creating new stitches, while the others are used to hold the remaining stitches.
In the 1350’s, oil paintings were found in Northern Italy near Spain showing the Virgin Mary knitting with this type of needle. Later in the 1400’s other paintings were found near Germany. The name of “Knitting Madonna’s” was given to these particular types of paintings.
There is a special type of double pointed needles called a cable needle. They are very short with a U-shape in the center of the needle or they are U-shaped themselves.
The most popular needles are straight needles, also called single pointed needles. They are straight slender sticks tapered at one end. The tapered end is used for creating the new stitch. The other end has a knob to prevent the stitches from falling off. They are between 10 and 16 inches in length. Straight needles are always used in pairs.
In the 1930’s, this type of needle became very popular. The simplicity of their use made knitting easy and fun.
The most modern needles are circular needles. They are made with two double points connected by a flexible plastic cable. They are used for both flat and circular knitting.Their length can be between 9 and 60 inches. There are kits made that allow the knitter to customize their needles. The two ends can be of different diameters and are screwed to a cable of various lengths. They are the most convenient to knit large blankets. Circular needles allow the material weight to be evenly distributed, making the work easier on the knitter’s arms and wrists. It also makes maneuvering the material around much easier without fear of the stitches falling off.
One of the techniques used for tubular knitting is known as the “Magic Loop”. Instead of using two needles the knitter will use one circular needle that is much longer than the circumference of the object being knitted.
There are some very lovely needles available. They are made from materials anywhere from glass to bamboo. A long time ago, bone, ivory and tortoiseshell was used.
Some materials are smoother than others to allow the yarn to slide easily. The material used for the knitting needles chosen by a knitter can be very personal as well as functional.
Abbreviations & Notations
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