You might look at bamboo needles, especially for small sizes. Wood is prettier, but bamboo is less expensive and less fragile. It won't break completely even if it cracks, so needles can sometimes be repaired. The feel isn't too dissimilar, either.
Wood IS much prettier, though. Lantern Moon has some really lovely wooden needles and I've seen some amazing ones at fiber shows.
I learned to knit on wooden needles that had been in our family for generations...I've used plastic and metal, but wood just feels right to me. I should probably try bamboo--I looked at some, but they were plastic-wrapped and I couldn't feel them in my hands. I doubt (with my eyesight) that I'll be using any really small sizes. I cannot find the old wooden needles in my mother's stuff--did find the big wooden crochet hook--and have a vague-could-be-false memory that one of the wooden needles was broken (someone heavy stepped on it.) I know the little knob on the end of one had come off. But they still might turn up (the memory may just be a placeholder excuse for not finding them.)
Gauge carries some lovely wooden needles by Brittany--though right now I'm concentrating on interchangeable cable-tip needles (and settled on KnitPicks brand for now.) Still, holding the Brittanys felt so right. I've been to the Lantern Moon website (a few weeks ago) and they, too, look lovely.
Something else to think on, especially for very wide projects, is using a circular needle to knit back and forth on. I've had problems with the joints in my hands since I was in my 20s and the weight of a heavy project on the end of a straight needle was problematic. With a circular, the weight mostly rests in your lap. My favorites are the Addi Turbo brass/nickle cable needles from Germany. Expensive but nearly indestructible, unless you have pets that like to chew on the cable bit.
You do realize that once you start "stashing" yarn, the next step on the road of fiber madness is to start contemplating spinning tools to make your own, right?
Oh, yes--I'm using a circular needle for both current projects. I knew the blanket one would be tough to handle on straights, and put the little one on a small cable because it's so much easier to pack for transport, and the short cable with acrylic needles doesn't spook security (as when knitting while waiting for jury call...taking knitting into the courthouse is problematic with some needles.)
Not going to start spinning. NOT. I'm content to be a specialist, using yarns others have made. (My mother did knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery as well as sewing...I just knit and do minimal crochet. The book writing takes up most of my time.)
I won't argue with that, I'm looking forward to the next installment!
Should mention that now I'm getting email updates from the online catalog where I got the original yarn, WEBS, and have fallen in love with two other kinds from the pictures. Am somewhat afraid this could lead to the same problems as buying a horse from online ads (been there, done that, horse has problem feet) but it's tempting anyway. And my first purchases were great, so why should I worry (don't answer that!.) Berocco Jasper...love the rich colors, esp. "Blue Bahia" and "Rojo Coralita". The heathered Berocco Comfort (esp. the red), Cascade Yarns Nikki "Hydrangea".
My friend told me I had a StABLE condition - Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. Sometimes you just can't stop.
When I used to do cross-stitch, the owner of the shop that catered to my addiction said, "She who dies with the most patterns wins!" Given the number of (to date unstitched) patterns in a box in my closet, I think she was on to something.
As I'm getting further into crochet, I'm finding that very similar yarns can sometimes 'put up' very differently. I bought two different colours of the same brand and style of yarn, and one colour took almost twice as much yarn to make the same size thing. Since I'm still just at the very beginning stages of learning, I haven't a clue why this is.
I bought a Knit Pro wooden crochet hook, and OMG! Eventually, I'll buy every size they make, and once I start knitting (the plan is to learn later this summer), I'm sure I'll also want their knitting needles. The hook I have is sooooooo pretty and feels soooooo good in my hand.
Well, I have to put a border on a baby blanket I'm making for a friend to give his expectant sister, so I better get to that. Oh, yeah, and putting the final polish on a manuscript submission. :-D
KnitPro also do a lovely set of double-ended crochet hooks in the laminated birch. I bought them all (from an online shop in the UK called artofyarn). As well as the full set of straights in 35cm length. Sock needles next.......
I used to think socks could be made only with double-ended needles, but at A-Kon watched two different people making socks on circular needles (short cable, though the cable was longer than the circumference of the sock.
As socks are definitely in my future (my mother knitted socks, but I never have, though I've knitted in the round) I need to a) learn how and b) decide whether to go with cable or double-ended needles.
For sock knitting, I personally prefer DPNs, but I know people who swear magic cable is the way to go.
I didn't plan it this way, but I discovered that the Everlasting Bagstopper
project was great practice for socks (or at least, the kind of socks
I tend to make). The bags make for good presents, too; I'd have to go to my Ravelry page if I wanted to figure out how many of these I've made in the last couple years. I certainly plan on making more in the future, since they're good presents, and they don't take oodles of time to make.
My bad, I meant the sock needle sized tips for my circular cables - the 2.75mm, 3.00mm and 3.25mm ones that I don't have yet - rather than the straight sets.
I am a big fan of Magic Loop where you use an 80cm cable to knit a much smaller tube (sock, sleeve, whatever!). A friend in the UK sent me the instructions whereby you can knit a raglan sleeve jumper with no seams other than a small section (about 7cm) under each arm and it's not really complicated at all.
I've completed two so far (the first was a plain round neck, the second a striped v-neck hoodie) and am currently making one for my great-nephew in Patons Foxy, a lovely green/blue mix but horrible yarn to knit with, actually, splits really easily and I'll be really happy when I've finished it.
I certainly found it easier than making individual pieces and sewing them together (something I HATE doing!) I can email it to you if you'd like.
My mother knit almost all sweaters in the round (as well as socks)--she didn't like sewing the pieces together either...;-) She had interesting ways of joining them (and my job, on the day or days she was joining arm tubes to body tube, was to keep her supplied with coffee at intervals...silently. Interrupting a stitch count was Not OK.
She made up a lot of her own patterns, too, as well as following patterns in books.
I'll be starting a knit top (not a sweater/jumper) for myself soon, I think, and plan to do it in the round.
I'd be interested in your mother's method if it wouldn't be too much to ask? Miranda's method doesn't involve any stitch counting, though, just keeping a marker at the front and back raglan decreases.
My next venture into the uncharted territory of new knittings is the Pinwheel Sweater!
Ooo. Thanks for that. It's what I kind of suspected. The colours in question are dramatically different.
Ah--that might explain why, in the variegated yarns I'm using, some colors seem more apt to "split" and unravel than others. As it's not a natural fiber yarn (acrylic/nylon) I didn't expect that to happen, but they're chemicals too, so why not? I didn't think of it changing how much yarn it takes for a given amount of knitting, though. Hmmm.
If you feel like sharing more of what you and your mom have learned, please do. I'm sure we're all interested.
My friend who teaches crochet, and whose sister dyes her own homespun yarns, says that for a given yarn weight, the darker color will be shorter, because there is more weight of pigment. It does not seem to me that the dye weight could, percentagewise, have a very noticeable effect on the length, but that's what she said.
This matches my (single!) experience. The colours I worked with were a dark reddish-greenish variegated, and a bright blue-dark blue variegated (with the brighter blues being dominant), and it was the blue yarn that went further.
I love this learning of new stuff!
It's the stockinette in the baby blanket that's causing the difference in yarn usage. Stockinette uses less yarn than garter stitch for the same number of square inches (assuming everything else is relatively equal). Garter stitch is a notorious yarn hog. (So is ribbing, seed stitch, and anything with cables.)
Thank you! I had no idea! But yes--garter stitch feels thicker, more cushiony...
Wow. That is SO good to know.