I've been working on a knitting project for my nephew-to-be, due in June. It's the seed stitch version of the lovely bulky baby blanket pattern from Purl Bee Soho. It's a really squashy blanket/playmat with a border knitted on in the round.
The pattern calls for a very bulky, very expensive yarn. I couldn't find a more affordable, machine washable alternative in the same weight, but couldn't really splurge ~£80 on yarn (plus needles). The border is knit in doubled Aran weight yarn, so I figured that would be okay for the body of the blanket as well.
I found some Rowan all seasons cotton on a major discount, so went for a bright orange and blue combination, Kate's favorite colors. The orange is a little lighter in person than it looked online, but that's what you risk when you do your yarn shopping online.
Since I got such a discount on the yarn, I decided to splurge and get some Clover needles, having heard so much about how wonderful they are. Two sets of circular needles, 9 and 10 mm. The package arrived one afternoon, and that evening I was sat in front of the
TV laptop, knitting away furiously.
The verdict... weeeell, they're okay. Maybe I just don't love such big needles, but I found the points a little too soft. I could see them being very difficult when working with less tightly woven yarn.
Also, after reading my sewing teacher Karen's paean to Clover circular needles, I was expecting the flexible bit to lie flat and well-behaved on the back-and-forth portion of the blanket (the body). It did not. I've only done one other back-and-forth project on (cheap, plastic) circular needles, and did not get any of these croquet hoops, pictured above. Could that have been because the earlier project took up more room on the needles?
(Side note: is it a circular needle or a set of circular needles? There's clearly a new set of jargon to learn along with new knitting skills...)
I've also found that the yarn snags on the join between the plastic bit and the bamboo bit just as often as with plastic needles, and doesn't slide as easily along against the bamboo as it does against the plastic.
But, then again, maybe it's partly down to the project I'm currently working on. Or the yarn I'm using. Or the size of the needles. My scientist husband would say this is a poorly designed experiment: too many variables. Further research is clearly required.
What needles do you prefer? And why? (Does this sound like an exam question? It is! Answers will be graded, but participation counts for a lot.)