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  • I have inflammatory arthritis is my hands and wrists. I’ve known for decades that bamboo and wooden needles didn’t aggravate my arthritis the way Addis do, but now I know why. Thanks Jillian!

  • Thank you Jillian, you are ever and always so insightful!
    I use both types but prefer wood (except for socks, Addis all the way.) If the yarn is fighting the needles and my hands are working too hard, I switch to metal and the fabric is definitely different. Embrace the swatch process! And I will have to try out the ergonomic needles.
    Love that there is always more to investigate and learn with this craft. Jillian, you are a wonder.

  • Now that you have explained it, it seems obvious, yet it had never even crossed my mind previously. Thank you.

  • Now that you have explained it, it seems obvious, yet it had never even crossed my mind previously. Thank you.

    • Have you tried Addi olive wood? I’ve used bamboo and superwash merino. Found it to be to sticky. The olive wood was better for slippery yarn and is sustainable.

      • I loved the olive wood, but each little knot in the wood caused them to break…

        • Warranty covers breaking needle with Addi. Love them. Bamboo too draggy

  • Oh my! I’m astonished! You describe my needle, speed and gauge challenges to a tee. This is so helpful, Jillian. Thank you so much.

  • That is fascinating! I really have to go down needle sizes to get gauge. The arthritis in my hands is increasing. I knit almost exclusively with circular needles because I drop my double points so frequently. I shall investigate the new Addis. Thanks.

    • Check out the Knitter’s Pride Cubics as well. I was gifted a set of the interchangeable circulars and use them almost exclusively. They also have DP’s. As a retired dental hygienist with arthritis who has had hand surgery I can vouch for them. I can knit again!

      • Yes, since breaking bones in both hands I switched to Knitter’s Pride square wooden needles, and I love them. As well, on other wooden needles I have to drag the reluctant knitted fabric toward the tip, and this slows my knitting speed, but on the square needles the stitches slip along more easily. This reduces hand tension too. The Addi square, textured needles are a good substitute, but Knit Picks squares are disappointing: so rounded that the advantage is lost.
        Decades ago I bought straight pins with sized tips (3-5 inches) and narrower shafts, and these improve ease and speed too.
        Thank you Jillian. I understand now why I lose gauge when I substitute needles to make a second piece of a sweater!

  • I just started a T shirt in linen. I used metal needles for one swatch and bamboo for a second swatch, not only for gauge but ease in knitting linen. The metal gave me more even stitches and a nicer fabric than the bamboo. Linen seems a bit slippery for metal needles so I may have to give those grippier Addi’s a try. Thanks so much for that timely review!

  • Thank you Jillian! I am going to print this article to add to my classes binder.
    Needles are more than just their circumference!

    • I found that after an hour of knitting with metal needles, my wrists would hurt. A touch of carpal tunnel. Switching to bamboo made all the difference and my wrists can knit for hours.

      • Yes, I’m the same, especially with double points. My hands need that tiny bit of flex that wood gives. And Addi needles unfortunately give me painful cracks on my thumb where it hits the needles – I react to whatever coating they have. Plain stainless steel doesn’t bother me. Which is too bad because I love the way the Addi needles knit…

  • Thank you! Now I know!

  • I’m also a loose knitter, and I like my wood KnitPicks mosaic set a lot, but I also love my HiyaHiya Sharps! I’ll happily go down several needle sizes when I need that sharp tip, and there aren’t many options other than metal for that.

  • This is so interesting and helpful.
    I love the Rocket 2 needles except when my eyes are tired and the light and pattern in the metal make it very difficult to distinguish stitches. I’ve come to prefer KP Cubics, and am about to try Kollage. This post is making me realize that a gorgeous yarn I have but didn’t like when I used it would benefit greatly from a try with a wooden needle. Thank you.

  • Jillian, this column just answered a question for me. I’m working on a Pressed Flowers shawl and as it grew I changed to a pair of metal needles. Looking at the piece overall I can see and feel a change in the gauge. It’s all good and will transition well in this case but now a note for future projects.

  • This is fascinating (for real)! Thank you for this.

  • Next you will have to compare the type of yarn to how it works with needle material … I.e., slippery superwash vs real wool vs acrylic. I stopped using superwash wools because they were too slippery and affected my gauge and the product look.

    • Yes please!! I live in Turkey and most of the fiber I have access to is acrylic blend. I’d love to know how that’s going to affect projects when I have to substitute it in for 100% wool.

  • My gauge always changes more when shrinking circumference has me move from my circular Addis to my old wooden dpns versus moving to my slick composite dpns. I figured it had something to do with friction but could never figure out what happens. I think your explanation about really tightening the stitch completely when friction slows me down makes perfect sense. I will keep this in mind when I am knitting with fibers that are less forgiving of wonkiness (I am looking at you cotton) and use my rougher needles when I need the initial look of the stitches to be as close to perfect as possible. Thank you!

  • Thank you! This solves an ongoing frustration. And a question from a novice, what stitch do you use to make your edges on the swatches so attractive? And what cast off? Thank you!

  • I have just the opposite outcome: my knitting is far closer to gauge when I use my Addi turbos, and i get the same gauge with the Rockets; the gauge is generally the same as the one on the ball band. With wooden needles, which i use for socks, the tops of hats, etc, I usually need a size smaller; all of my dpns are wooden because i like the extra friction that they provide. When I tried the Kollage square needles years ago, my knitting was tighter, and much more even, but I already owned so many needles i did not stock up on them.

    The important thing here is that the type of needle is a significant variable, and that swatching is always important. This is a great illustration of that rule.

    • You are absolutely right. The type of needle is very important AND the type of yarn. So, slippery needles with sticky yarn, and sticky needles with slippery yarn, and comfort plus gauge is much more assured.

    • Same. My Chiaogoo needles give me a slightly tighter gauge than my my Knitters Pride Royales, but also keep my gauge consistent throughout. In either case I’m a tight knitter and need to go up a size or two (or adjust my stitch count).

  • I use wooden needles almost exclusively because I’ve known for a long time that they are easier for my arthritic hands. Never occured to me that guage would change with a change of material, though! Thanks for this fascinating article!

  • Thank you, I never thought about different materials making a difference in gauge. Getting ready to start a new sweater and will definitely try different types of needles when making my swatch

  • Wow!! Thanks for this. Explains a lot.

  • Very interesting!! I switched to bamboo needles quite some time ago because I my knitting didn’t fall off the needles on me. I love them. But when I need to switch lengths within a project, I have used multiple types depending on d what I own. Guess that’s not a good plan. Thank you!

  • Thanks for all that great information! You’ve given me some great assessment tools when things go wrong!! Also, I agree with Robin. I love the Addi Olivewood needles!

  • Great demonstration! Was there a yardage difference in the 3 swatches? Thank you for answering

  • What a great article, thank you…I never can get gauge and never thought to try my bamboo needles. Thank you for your insight

  • Thank you this makes so much sense! I have been using the Addi Rocket2 for the last year and love them for just about everything. I no longer feel like I fight with my needles for the desired outcome. I have tried so many types of needles including the Tulips, ChiGoo bamboo Addi Turbo & Bamboo but still go back to the Addi Rocket2. I use them exclusively now and love them.

  • As always, Jillian BRINGS IT!! I remember as a new knitter feeling like I found “my needle”, yep, I thought these surgical stainless steel interchangeable are it. I was only knitting with wool. Then I knit my first scarf in silk mohair and the stitches were literally tumbling OFF my needle (not in a good way), and I discovered bamboo needles. and I thought, – oh, wait, I LOVE these. Okay, these are my needles. Then I knit my first sweater out of Rowan Summer Tweed . . . you see where this is going . Now I have LOTS of different needles. I ❤️ Jillian so hard.

  • So many a-ha’s for me here. Thank you Jillian!

  • I always use circs (lots of knitting in the round) and have found that the joins on my wooden/bamboo needles are always rough or have a snag that keeps the stitches from moving. I’ll check out some of these alternatives brands mentioned. Good info!

  • Absolutely fascinating. I’m an avowed Addi knitter & I’ve always had gauge issues. Time to try the bamboo & wooden needles languishing in my drawer.

  • I am not a fluent continental knitter but that affects my gauge – so I continue to throw/English.
    So many parts in the equation to the solution.

  • I’m also a loose knitter, and start out by going down 2 needle sizes. But the smaller needles are definitely more tiring to my hands, and wooden needles don’t have the very sharp points I’m fond of. I’ve tried the square needles with a circular I received (don’t remember how now) and didn’t particularly like the feel of knitting on them.

    And as the articles says, it’s actually about the impact on you and your grip, not the needles themselves.

  • Very interesting and very helpful.
    I’ve tried a variety of needles because, somehow, I loosen the connection ( cable to needle) while knitting with most interchangeable needles. I’m still trying to figure out this problem and I know it’s me because it never happens to my knitting friends. My latest effort at reducing this issue is to go to swivel cables.
    All I want to do is knit!

    • I used to have that problem too, having to check every so often and tighten the needle. Then I realized that my set of interchangeable needles came with a “key” — a little rod that holds the cable and helps tighten the connection. Problem solved, wish I had noticed that sooner.

  • HEY! This is some serious good stuff here! Thanks for all the valuable info and the pictures tell so much.

  • Thank you! Now i know why the only yarn I like using metal needles for is craft store cotton! Use mt Tulips for everything else!

  • As a new beginner knitter I used the Addi Turbos for my first scarf and thought these needles are amazing. Then when I tried the Addies on different yarns, not so amazing. I’ve switched to the Knitters Pride Dreamz line of wooden needles. Provides the friction I need (a lot less dropped stitches) and I love the colors!

  • I have also found a big difference in gauge between straight and circular needles. When I knitted on straights, a good fabric was easy to establish within the recommended range of needle sizes for a yarn. Not so with circulars. What I gained in speed has been seriously compromised in gauge. My knitting remains hideously loose making it necessary to drop down 4-5 needle sizes to get a reasonable gauge for a project and not always a pretty result. While I hate to give up the speed and comfort of using circulars (and I have sets across 6-7 brands), I will probably return at long last to straights – except when flying (elbow room!).

  • Wow! What a great article Jillian! I’ve been using the Addi Rocket2 for a while now and I really like it. The bumps also makes it super easy to do that spread-out cast on from Marlogram. The only minor issue is that a traditional needle sizer doesn’t work on them. The size is printed on the cord but it’s tiny and it fades over time. On the other hand, it could make me get to know my needles more and be more confident in just picking the needle I think will work without worry about what size it is and starting my swatch there.

    • Use a combo of two or three nail polish colors to permanently code your cords on the Addi 2d. Consider one color a “5” and another a “one”. A size 7 needle gets one stripe of color for 5, and rwo stripes if color for the two 1s that add to seven. If you code a half with the third color, those 10-1/2s have a code. For bamboo needles, Sharpies will do the same color code job.

  • WOW. This never would have even occurred to me. Thank you. So good to know there’s another way to hit gauge other than changing needle size.

  • Why don’t designers specify what material their needles are made from on the pattern? They are always very clear about the yarn. Knowing the needle composition my help us to achieve the gauge without having to resort to multiple swatches.

    • Unfortunately the yarn choice makes a big difference in what needle composition is best. A sticky yarn and sticky needles would fight each other (very tight stitches on the needle) and slick yarn with slick needles would do the same, but with opposite results (too loose).

      Add in the variables of the individual knitter’s tendency to knit tightly or loosely and their particular needle collection and it begins to be way too much for a designer to try and account for. That’s why they just say when it’s very critical to get gauge and when it’s not so important.

      I imagine sometimes yarn manufactures might have recommended needle composition for a particular yarn but a pattern designer has to expect yarn substitutions.

  • I was confused when I started reading your article because I do the opposite! I have to go up a needle size when I use metal as I make the stitches tighter on metal needles so they don’t slide off! I like loose stitches and the way they glide so easily. But too easily on metal leads to disaster…

    It’s so interesting how every knitter is slightly different.

    But I do agree that sometimes it gives you the in between gauge you can’t find with a different set. (Which is why I have so many needles! 😉 )

  • Very interesting, as always, Jillian.

    “Racing pell mell off the needles” is exactly how I like my stitches, LOL. I remember discovering nickel needles, it was like the heavens opened up for me. I always had speedy mechanics, and these slick needles were the missing piece of the puzzle. You reminded me of knitting the Stopover in about 3-4 days, while also doing my day job. Addi Turbos made it happen!

  • What an interesting article!. It never occurred to me that the material of the needle would make that much of a difference in the fabric that was knitted. I too am a loose and slow knitter and switched to continental style knitting to knit faster. I had the same results as you, a slight increase in speed. Now I want to test out, for myself, your theory (well, it looks pretty conclusive). But I do want to see it on my own needles and yarn. A new adventure. Thanks so much for all the great information this column adds to my knitting.

  • I have experimented too. I use Knitters Pride Dreamz (or the almost identical Lykke). The wood is slicker than bamboo, but much easier on my fingers than metal. I’ve been knitting for 30 years, and knock wood, no pain or trouble with my grip.

  • I have also found that the yarn composition makes a huge difference. When knitting doesn’t feel natural, I’ve found it helps to change needles. Knitting shouldn’t be frustrating. I once was knitting a lace shawl and having a horrible time with stitches slipping off the needles because it was impossible to pick them up again correctly. I finally realized that I was knitting tightly to keep all the long loops on the needles and equally sized. As a result if I dropped a stitch, it immediately rebounded like a rubber band and disappeared in loose loops of previous rows. I finally switched away from the Turbos to Birtch and bamboo. I later learned that Addi Lace needles are not the same material as the Rockets and Turbos. The Lace needles have a different surface so there is a friction more like wood. With the pointed tip, which wooden needles don’t have, it is prefect for lace.

    • I am a tight knitter and always have trouble with size of needle and yarn . My friend knits beautifully and sometimes mine looks messy. There are those that can really knit and those that love to knit and I feel I’m the latter. People say I do nice work, but I guess I’m a perfectionist. I learned when I was twelve and am now 81. TOO late to change! Thanks for your valuable info.

  • For me wood is slightly different from both bamboo and metal. My favorite sock needles are wooden, a little more slippery than bamboo, a little less slippery than metal.

  • I’ve always wished I could learn from a book under my pillow!

  • Thank you for another great article! I’ve always switched between Addi Turbos and wood or bamboo needles, depending on what felt and worked best with the yarn I was using. I don’t usually knit items where gauge is important, but if I do, now I’ll know to be more aware of the effects of needle materials.

  • Very interesting article! I just had thumb joint arthritis surgery and was looking forward to getting back to my ChiaGoos in a few months. I got rid of my Lykke wood needles because I got tired of pushing the work across those needles when the yarn seemed to “stick”.

  • My experience is the opposite! When using slippery needles, I automatically try to tighten the stitches while making them, so they don’t slide off the needle. Thus, my gauge tightens up.

  • Fascinating. Thank you. This knitting is such an interesting sport.

  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I thought I was imagining my gauge had changed when I switched needles! Now I know it’s real and why it happens!

  • Thank you Jillian!
    I’m going to try your experiment now. I know depending on what yarn I’m using I’ll switch. Now I know the reason.

  • Love these Needles, so glad I bought them. Gauge is right on. And that’s the truth.

  • It helps if you knit with the tips of the needles allowing the size of the needle to fix the gauge. This is especially easy when knitting continental and pointy needles help. I agree friction is a consideration especially with some yarns but would encourage knitting with the tips. Works well for me.

    • Yep. I let the needle size my stitch, but still find my gauge is slightly tighter on Chiaogoo, slightly less tight on wood, and slightly looser than both on Addi Lace.

  • Re Addi needles, please note this info from the jimmy beans website: “Please note: Addi needles labeled US-1/2.5mm are truly size US-1.5/2.5mm, needles labeled US-2/3.0mm are truly size US-2.5/3.0mm, and needles labeled US-2.75mm are truly size US2/2.75mm.” I have confirmed this myself with a standard knitting needle gauge. (https://www.jimmybeanswool.com/knitting/yarn/Addi/AddiNeedlesProducts.asp)

  • Last fall, when I was on a short vacation, I was finishing the first sleeve on my sweater and realized I forgot the DPNs (wooden) for the ribbing. I used the correct needle size, but a 32” (metal) and knit it Magic Loop (first time doing that). When I was home and finishing the second sleeve, I used the DPNs. What a difference in gauge! It was looser and I didn’t like it. Took it out and knit it Magic Loop. I have a lot of different needle materials in my collection, and I don’t really want to buy more needles, but this article will help me sort through them and be consistent for my next project.

  • The option I love for most fibers is the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz – carbon fiber needles with steel tips, warmer and slightly less slippery than all metal.

  • This is why I have 7 sets of interchangeable needles! Bamboo, metals, carbon fiber and wood. I change up the needles to match the yarn I’m using (Material definitely affects gauge). Love the cubics, but the ChiaoGoo remain my favorite for every day use. My favorite ergonomic needles are Prym. Slightly squared, bulb top and a great cord. Almost zero kink. I just wish I could get a complete set. Right now they only come in dpn’s and fixed circular. Hoping they eventually do interchangeables

    • Wow! This article is fascinating. The visual of the swatches all together is remarkable; it would never have occurred to me that needle material could make such a difference. The really useful takeaway for me though is the solution for the “elusive .25 st/inch” problem! Changing the material of the needle will really be useful when knitting in the US10-13 range—there are big jumps in mm between those sizes.

  • Yes! I knit a “matching” pair of socks – one on Chigoo and one with an Addi Rocket. The Addi socks were significantly larger. Now when I use the Addis to knit socks, I only cast on 56 stitches instead of 60.

  • I discovered square needles at a Knitting Conference and show in New Brunswick, Canada, years ago. The Knit East Market had a spot to try all the different sort of needles. I had never heard of square needles back then, let alone Kollage but, as soon as I tried them, I grabbed a couple of sizes to purchase. They are very sharp and forced me to give up an old habit when knitting socks of nudging the needle tip with my left forefinger. I wore a sticking plaster for a few weeks but the transition was worth it. My gauge improved exponentially and I ceased snapping needles with my “grip of death”. Material matters!

    • Margot, I too broke innumerable wooden double points with the grip of death. Bamboo didn’t snap as easily but after knitting two pairs of socks, they would develop quite a curve. I have a collection of C shaped needles. Then I discovered Karbonz. Carbon fiber with metal tips. Feels like wood in your hand, no sliding stitches like metal. I’ve been using them for years and haven’t bent or snapped one yet.

  • I wish I read this a couple of months ago. I knit the body of my destination sweater with addi turbos and the sleeves with birch double points. Same size needles. The body and the sleeves absolutely could not be used together on the same sweater.

  • I have used Addi turbos for almost 20 years. They work very well for me.

  • Okay, that’s it, I have to try another needle material then! As a slow knitter, I love my Zings because I got that sense of movement & speed. But with some yarns (and I knit non-superwash yarns almost exclusively), I just cannot get gauge. I can go down 2-3 sizes in needle size and get .5 sts/inch change in gauge when I need a 1.5-2 sts/inch change. I don’t want to be at a 2 when the “normal” person is at a 6.

  • I’d be interested in recommendations of good bamboo interchangeables. I have metal and two sets of wooden, but no bamboo interchangeable. Willing to invest in a good set.

  • Thank you. All this was news for me. I learned from the comments as well. I am just ready to move beyond no special gauge scarves.

  • So true. The reason why I love my “grabby” Blackthorn needles for sock knitting is they ensure the gauge I want AND stitches won’t slide off DPNs (AND they are virtually unbreakable). I’m so sorry they’re not made anymore. I’m not as happy with other companies’ versions that have the shiny steel tips.

  • Jillian, thank you for this article. I’ve often wondered about this but never took the initiative to find out. I can certainly relate. I’ll be a better knitter from now on and do the swatches trying different needles. Susan G.

  • Thanks for such a good article on needles. Your explanation gave me the reasons for my experience. In 2007, I began a sweater using Manos Cotton Stria yarn. I tried a bunch of different needles: metal, bamboo, wood, etc. – for all of them it was just a little annoying, a frustration. The knitting was not fun. I ended up trying a Pony plastic needle and it suddenly became a pleasure! I don’t know what it was about the yarn that grabbed on metal as well as wood, but it slid on the plastic and was still controllable. Thus, I learned to collect different compositions as well as sizes. And I learned that if you’re not having fun, but aren’t sure why, to try a different kind of needle. Once the process is comfortable, finding a needle to get gauge is usually easy. I still look for Pony plastics – you never know when you’ll need them…

  • I was delighted to read a scientific hypothesis and test on this topic. Now I am motivated to make n = 2 and create a series of test swatches with my needle sets. This might explain why my Chicago steel needles seem to always knit up looser. Thank you!

    • Autocorrect, Chicago above should be Chiaogoo.

  • I am only now getting to this post. It offers an interesting conversation and the photos are great. I mostly use Knitters Pride needles. They are wood, but well polished, slide much more easily than bamboo and have good points. I like to buy an extra skein of yarn and play with it a bit to get to know it before I start on a project. When row gauge is important such as with raglan shaping, Once I am knitting to the stitch gauge I’ll try swatching with various needles of the same size to see how the tie gauge is affected. There’s usually a measurable difference and a good match.

  • Interesting. Basic info is hard to find. Some of us oldies want to know how and why something works.Thank you

  • Great article! I have arthritis in my hands (one of many places). Somedays knitting is cumbersome and my pinky fingers and wrists tend to get cramped and have the most pain. I never thought about needles being different other than I tend to lean toward the wooden ones. I’ve seen the square textured ones, but in my stubborn mind I go to “well, those are really different” and shy away. Now I’m inspired to try them out. Thank Jillian!

  • super interesting!! I would not have thought there would be such a difference with the same size needles and the same material knitted!

  • Darn, I missed this article earlier! Totally agree! I do better with bamboo. Though, for some reason I and others have developed a love for Chiao Goo metal needles which suggests that maybe a difference in metals in and of themselves also figures into this (although the usual reason cited is the quality of the Chiao Goo cables). When I have a moment I will do your swatch test with those and report back. Will have to try that Pear color of Atlas. Isolated out of the grouping of the colors as a whole, it looks pretty crisp – my kind of yellow. Developed overall hand arthritis after jabbing (don’t jab!) my sticky yarn over the large join of a size 13 metal circular needle hundreds of times in a large-gauge garter stitch shawl. I repeat. Don’t jab!

  • This is awesome. I love Addi Rockets and the Rocket2 but have noticed my normal loose knitting is ridiculously loose. I was chalking it up to sloppy work on my part. I appreciate your curiosity.