Sunday, August 10, 2008

Comparative Needleology

- or - Knitting Bitty Swatches

I went to a new yarn store yesterday, so new that its grand opening is not until September 6th. The owner tempted me with a pair of Addi Turbo lace circular needles. She let me take them out of the plastic and play with them. The cable was wonderfully flexible, especially when compared to the stiff black cable on my cheap-o circulars. So I bought a 40 incher in size 4 to knit the fingerless mitts with.

Geeze o' pete, that needle is slickery.

I had absolutely no control over the tension. My stitches were loose enough to drive a Mack truck through.

Some experimentation was in order. I have a bunch of bamboo dpn's from Amazon: sizes 1 to 15, 5 of each, $19. They're not as nice as Clovers, but the price was right and I don't mind that dpn's aren't smooth, smooth, smooth. I want 'em grippy so they don't slide out when I'm not looking. Plus, it gave me a wide selection of sizes to fiddle with at a low price.

On size 3 bamboo needles, I did a long-tail cast-on, knit a couple of short rows, then did four rows of stockinet, then four rows of ribbing. It's the yellow and green swatch. On size 4 bamboo needles, I did a cable cast-on and knit essentially the same swatch in blue and lime. On the size 4 Addie Turbos, I did a backward-loop cast-on and knit another twelve stitch swatch, the all green one. They are all from the same strand of yarn. I didn't break the yarn off between the swatches and just left them hanging on the needles to make sure I would know which was which.

Click on the picture to see it enlarged.

Of the three cast-ons, the cable cast on is certainly the most attractive. It takes the longest to do, but I think the appearance is worth the effort. And I know with practice I will get faster.

I don't know if this is typical, but the bitty swatch from the Addis seems to be more hard edged than the two from the bamboo needles; the stitches seem more sharply defined. The Addis were substantially more difficult to knit with because they were harder to hold on to and the yarn kept wanting to go in different directions than I wanted it to. My stitch tension did improve between my first and second attempt at Turbo knitting. It's true it's faster to knit on Addis, but I would like to feel more in control. I can see where the sharp, slippery points would be good for lace, though.

Decisions, decisions. Ah well, I can procrastinate until I get back from vacation in a week.

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