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Choosing the Best Knit and Crochet Materials
The Importance of "Hand Feel"
Yarn, needles and hooks that feel good in your hands are more likely to be used to complete projects. When the yarn, needles and hooks don't feel good to you, you're less likely to finish the project, sometimes because of pain. Take this into consideration when choosing your products!
Why is it Important to Choose Knitting and Crochet Materials Carefully?
Beginning needle crafters may not entirely understand, often because when we're starting out, "inexpensive" is the name of the game. Who wants to spend an arm and a leg on materials you're not sure you're going to enjoy using in the first place? Trust me, I completely understand how it feels to buy cheap because you're new to knitting or crochet or because you're low on cash reserves.
There's no judgment here.
But I do want you to know that your materials, from your crochet hooks and knitting needles right down to the row counter you use, can make all the difference in the way that you feel about the projects that you're creating.
Have you ever heard the term "hand-feel?" It's not used all that commonly, but it's an important concept in needle crafts. The better that your materials feel in your hand, the better they're going to feel in use. In terms of needles and hooks, those you're most comfortable with are likely to be used to complete projects, not just to start projects that wind up being put aside.
A Note about Recommendations
I do a lot of recommending products on this page. Most of these are not affiliate recommendations and I want to make it clear for your benefit that most of the best materials cannot be found on Amazon. If you're looking for a quick and trusted solution to purchasing materials online, but are new to knitting and crochet and for that reason aren't altogether sure where to look to purchase your materials, I'm asking you to please trust me. If you're more experienced, I hope you'll be nodding along with my recommendations, because these are some of the best materials I've ever gotten my hands on, and they come at a reasonable price.
In a few cases, I've had to "borrow" images from Amazon, and in order to use these under fair use, I've included the product link to purchase these products. I recommend that you always check out your local yarn shop (LYS) before purchasing on Amazon. Some of these recommended products are more expensive than others, and the more expensive brands are best purchased from your LYS, as you'll get a better price (most likely) and you'll also support an independent business owner.
An Inexpensive Alternative to Addi Needles
If you don't have a lot of money to spend, don't despair! Instead of purchasing the Addi needles from your LYS, check out Knit Picks. Their needles are of similar quality but are a fraction of the price of the Addi needles. The hand-feel isn't quite the same, but this is still a very high quality needle, particularly if you need to buy several sets of the same size!
Do you find the Addi needles and Knit Picks needles comparable to one another?
Choosing the Best Knitting Needles for Any Project: An Important Tip
In general, I knit with two types of needles: Double-pointed needles and circular needles. Flat projects can be done on circular needles of an appropriate wire length, and because they are flexible in terms of their ability to knit both circular and flat projects, I particularly enjoy working with circular needles. Double-pointed needles will give a truer tubular knitting, however, and I use these when working with toys and often when working with socks (though it's hard to resist knitting socks two at a time on circulars!).
When you're choosing circular needles, you must choose a needle set with a thin, flexible cord that is well-secured to its ends (the needle ends). This cannot be stressed enough. If the cord isn't flexible, it will get in your way and encumber your knitting. It may also snag on the yarn you're working with. Cheap circular needles aren't recommended. You're much better off spending more money on a product like the Addi Turbo or Addi Lace circular knitting needles than you are purchasing something cheap from the craft store.
I mean it. Try the Addi needles and test the difference before making a decision that could cost you the desire to knit with your needles!
Choose Yarn by Touch
While I continue to highly recommend Knit Picks to anyone looking for high quality, inexpensive products, I also recommend that knitters and crocheters take the time to feel their yarn before buying. Purchasing yarn online is iffy if you haven't already experienced the yarn brand you're purchasing. While Ravely is an excellent source for yarn reviews you can actually trust, your best bet is to get out there to your LYS and touch and feel all the yarn.
Your preferences will be as individual as you are, so choosing a yarn based on the review of another person can be foolish. I'll never forget my husband attempting to hammer it into me that Red Heart Super Saver was the best yarn on the market because a customer at the craft store he worked for at the time had told him that it softened up beautifully once it was washed. Since I don't wash my yarn prior to working with it, this is irrelevant to me, but furthermore, I haven't found this to be true. It may be the least expensive yarn on the market, but it's also a cheap acrylic with a terrible hand-feel.
Since then I make up my own mind about the yarn I buy.
Tip: Try Alpaca or Merino Wool
If you're a new knitter or crocheter, then I'm talking to you. Try knitting or crocheting with an alpaca or merino wool. It's a totally different experience than working with the acrylics that are available for the least amount of money. Though I strongly recommend feeling your yarn before purchasing it, Knit Picks has some amazing selections that you can check out. Their sock yarns are fantastic, but they also have some really beautiful bulky and worsted weight yarns as well for bigger projects.
Keep the Materials Fun!
Knitting and Crochet should be fun. I love practicing with speed knitting (though I'm not terrific at knitting in the continental style). Good needles or hooks will make it easier for you to practice moving quickly and you'll be more likely to finish your projects.
Note About Crochet Hooks
I have yet to find a hook I find particularly "special." You will want to make sure that there aren't any rough edges to your crochet hook because this can snag on your yarn. If you've found something fantastic, please do take a moment let me know what you've discovered, as I'd be very curious to see what you use so that I can pick something up for myself! Use the comments for any tips for products you especially like!
© 2014 Becki Rizzuti