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Knitting Needles 101

Knitting needles come in a variety of types, sizes and materials. Remember that knitting usually compacts easily and a larger knitted project will easily fit on a shorter needle.

Straights (Single point needles): These are timg_1224he archetypal knitting needle seen in most general images of knitting needles. They have a tapered tip at one end, a straight shaft that goes from the end of the tip to the knob at the other end. The knob prevents the stitches from sliding off the non working end.

These needles come in a variety of lengths, but are most commonly found in 10 (25 cm) and 14″ (35 cm). They can be easily made at home from any cylindrical item like a skewer or a dowel. The knobs can be purely functional or ornate.

img_1230DPNs (Double Pointed Needles): Have two tips, one at each end of the needle separated by a straight shaft. They are usually used in sets of four or five and are used to knit in the round, whether creating a flat rounds item like a circle or a tube (especially small circumference things like socks and sleeves). They can certainly be used in pairs to knit flat pieces.

These also come in a variety of lengths from 4″ (10cm) to 14″ (35 cm) and everything in between. the most common lengths are 6″ to 8″ (15 cm to 20 cm).

Circular: These are twimg_1227o straight needles, without the knobs, joined into a circle with a flexible cable. They were originally intended for knitting in the round, both flat pieces like circles or squares and tubular pieces like sweaters or hats. Many people now use them for all their knitting needs: knitting in the round, knitting small circumference tubes and even knitting flat. I use them all the time because the shaft are short so I am not hitting the sides of chairs or those sitting beside me and if I drop a needle I can retrieve it just by pulling it up by the cord.

These come in a variety ofimg_1228 lengths, both for the needle portion, usually 4″-5″ (10 cm 12.5 cm) and for the cable or cord portion. The length of the whole needle varies from about 9″ (27.5 cm) to 60″ (150 cm). The most commonly available sizes at in the 16″ – 32″ (40 cm – 80 cm) range.
If you are knitting in the round and unl
ess you are using magic loop or two circular needles, you will want you to haimg_1229ve your total needle length a bit shorter than the finished project circumference. So, 16″ (40 cm) is great for a hat and a 32″ (80 cm) needle may be more appropriate when kni
tting the body of a sweater.
Circular needles come in fixed (all made together) and interchangeable. Interchangeable needles allow you to change the length or the size of needles as you work as there needle part is made separately from the cord and they cords and needles can be interchanged to create needles of various sizes, lengths and even mixed sizes.


Needles are made from a variety of materials. They all have different properties and many people will argue that the material they prefer is the best. However, I find that in general, material is a personal preference, if possible try a variety of materials to figure out which is your favourite.

Also, be aware that gauge may be affected by the material of your needle. The exact same needle diameter may produce a looser or tighter gauge with a particular yarn. This is good to keep in mind when swatching as just using a different kind of needle may change your gauge.

Needles come made of metal (aluminum, steel, brass, nickel plated), bamboo, wood, plastic, carbon fibres and everything else imaginable (I have seen glass knitting needles, needles made from PVC pipes, ivory, tortoise shell, bone, resin etc.).

Metal needles tend to be strong, slick and a bit heavy. Their slickness helps the stitches move easily along the needle shaft and many people claim they can knit faster on metal needles. They may or may not be a great fit for beginners because of this. They are cold to the touch when you first pick them up, but quickly warm up with use.

Bamboo needles are strong, flexible, light and warm right from the start. They grip yarn more than metal needles and so may be ideal for beginners.

Wood needles are less strong than bamboo needles, but share many of the same qualities.

Plastic needles are flexible, strong and light. They can be quite slick.

Carbon fibres are very strong, a bit flexible and feel warm from the start. They can have a scratchy feel to them unless they have a metal tip.


There are a variety of ways of referring to the same size needle. The following chart shows the metric, US, UK and Japanese needle size equivalents. Please note, metric is the most accurate way to size needles, sometimes US needle sizes are not exact equivalents. For example, I have seen size 6 US needles that were 4 mm and 4.25 mm (in the same brand!).

















2.1 0


2.4 1
2.7 2


3.0 11 3


3.3 4


3.6 5


3.9 6


4.2 7


7 8
4.8 9


5.1 10
5.4 11


5.7 12


4 13
6.3 14

10 ½

6.6 15
7.0 2

7 mm

7.5 1



8 mm




9 mm




10 mm









Yarn:  Yarn is made from various fibres. Below is a fairly comprehensive list for reference only,

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FOs! Yay!

Two projects got finished in the last week! Yay!  One was a castonitis flare up project started on June 14th and finished on the 28th and the other is a long term UFO (UnFinished Object) started in January 2013.

image_small2On June 22nd, I blogged about the beautiful Intenso Shawl that I could not resist casting on, even after a one week cooling off period after determining that I really, really wanted to knit it. It is so beautiful and I am so glad that temptation won. The finished project is really beautiful and I love it!

To read more details and see more photos, take a gander at my Ravelry project page for the Intensive Therapy Shawl.

After finishing that shawl, I once again picked up a very image_small21long term UFO, the Horai Scarf. It was take along knitting, then it wasn’t, then it was, then it wasn’t, then it was and so on. Finally, after three and a half years it is done, blocked and ready to go!

Again, I am pleased with the result, after blocking. Before blocking, it really just looked like a blob of yarn, after blocking it turned into a beautiful web of lace.  Blocking truly is magical and arguably, the single most important aspect of any lace knitting or knitted lace project. It it the fairy godmother of lace, transforming a ragged blob of yarn into a something elegant and bewitching.image_small2
In between finishing these projects, I have been busily swatching for a new project, a shawl of my own design.
This afternoon, after many swatches to design my stitch patterns, to design the flow and to figure out the best way of increasing while having the increases work smoothly with the stitch patterns,
and after casting on at least a dozen time, making minor adjustments to various elements, I finally cast on for the actual project. img_9853-1Not being really ready to share this shawl yet, you are only getting the blob stage

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Getting Back to Knitting

It has been a while since I knit with regularity. This is extremely unusual for me. Normally, knitting is my therapy and it is what gets me through tough times. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer on April 28th and she died on May 11th (may she rest in peace), peacefully and surrounded by loved ones. It has only been in the two or three weeks or so that I have started knitting more regularly again. This may not seem like a long time to many people, really just about a month or so. But for me, I knit every day. Even to miss one day is quite significant, to go a month with very little knitting is unheard of.

It is nice to be knitting again!

I managed to finish the Sock Madness socks that came out the day that mother was diagnosed.  These socks will always remind me of my mother and her last days.

Sweet Nuttins — Sock Madness 2016

Sweet Nuttins — Sock Madness 2016

My castonitis continues to flare up at regular intervals. The beautiful Intenso Lace Shawl by Alina Appasov caught my eye. This time my self-discipline was hard at work and did not allow me to cast on immediately. I made myself wait a week to purchase and cast on. If I was still in love and still needed to cast on in a week, perhaps it was true love and not just a passing infatuation. True love it turned out to be.


Intenso Shawl

I cast on with Indigo Moon 100% Mulberry Silk in the Really Red colour way (which lies and is definitely not really red, but a beautiful, rich rusty brick colour). The yarn and the pattern are a joy to knit. The photo shows the shawl, having just started the lace section. It is lightly pinned out, so not as lovely as it will be when it is finished and fully blocked.

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Madness Again

This past year has seen all kinds of madness in my life! But, THAT is NOT what this blog is about.  Last month, a different kind of madness descended on my house (and everywhere else I go with project bag in had). It is time for Sock Madness 10. It is not my tenth year, only my second, but it is a hoot and I am, after some trepidation, back at it

Right now, I am between rounds. The current round ends at the latest on April 18th at 5:40 pm EDT, and then then there is usually a day or two before the next pattern drops, so I  hope to have a good time to rest between these rounds. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to knit, but not at the mad rate that I need to use for Sock Madness.

Today, I finished round 3 of this year madness, with my beautiful, but painful to knit New Zealand inspired Waimakariri (a river in New Zealand) socks by Sonya Newstead. These are lovely and comfortable to wear. They have a lovely toe treatment and are comfortable. However they are almost impossible to get over the ankle. A good blocking is needed I think. image_medium2

These were a surprisingly challenging knit with lots of M1Rs (my least favourite of the increases) and complex movements of the cables all done with written directions. I am a chart kind of person. Written directions and I do not get along, except as a way of verifying what I think I see in a chart. The design is lovely, but when I first saw the pattern, I really did not expect to be as challenged with these as I was.

The previous two rounds were more challenging than last years first rounds. First there were the delightful SlipStripSpiral socks by Mylene Pipers. These were fun and relatively easy, however her instructions combined several different bits of patterning, so it was a bit confusing to sort out. However, the resulting socks are fun!


The second pattern was Ronni Smith’s Rose and Thorn Socks. After a harrowing beaded provisional cast-on it was smooth sailing for the rest of the sock. Next time I do a beaded provisional cast-on, I will do it differently. The socks turned out beautifully and I do love me a hemmed edge on my knitted things.





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Soup for an Overindulgent Day

I am trying to eat more healthfully. That does not mean a traditional diet, but it does mean eating sensibly and healthfully, at least most of the time. Some days, like today, I overindulged in a big breakfast and an even bigger lunch. This is perfect day to turn to soup for my evening meal. Soup is healthy (well, this one is), filling and really is great for a very light supper after eating too much the rest of the day.

Anyone who is on a fasting diet or a intermittent fasting diet like the 5:2 diet will love this recipe since a serving of this soup is only 70 calories. Of course, you can change up the vegetables or seasonings to any that you prefer, though the nutrition information may change.

Healthy Vegetable Soup - Chunky

Healthy Vegetable Soup – Chunky

To add more sustenance to the soup for those who have not overindulged all day, you can add cooked meat, noodles, cheese or a sour cream garnish (especially if you have pureed the soup). Oh heck, even those who overindulged can add a tablespoon of low-fat sour cream or Balkan yogurt (both have about 13 calories per tablespoon) and still be under 85 calories a cup!

Healthy Vegetable Soup

  • olive oil spray, light coating
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced

    Healthy Vegetable Soup - Pureed (with a garnish of low fat sour cream)

    Healthy Vegetable Soup – Pureed (with a garnish of low fat sour cream)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • tablespoon ginger, fresh, chopped
  • 85 g carrots, chopped
  • 250 g broccoli, chopped
  • ½ bunch kale, just the leaves 
  • 900 ml chicken broth
  • 450 ml water
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • teaspoon italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1.Spray stock pot with cooking spray.
Sweat the onions and the seasonings. Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking. Add the carrots, broccoli, kale and cook for a few minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes to an hour. Add less water if you will be simmering only 20 minutes as less of the water will evaporate.
2.Optional: Puree the soup to make a creamy vegetable soup.
This recipe makes about 6 cups of soup.

Calories per cup: 70, fat: 1 g, carbs: 11 g, protein: 5g, sodium 129 mg.

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It’s Madness, I Tell You!

Last year, I found the Sock Madness group on Ravelry after the madness had begun. It sounded like a crazy, fun, inspiring idea, but I had missed out for the year.
Sock madness is a 7 round, world-wide, sock knitting competition. In each round, people are eliminated until there is only one person left on each team of about 40 people. In the seventh round, the lone survivors from each team go against each other to see who can knit the seventh round (read this as very difficult) pattern the fastest.

Now, I am a slow knitter. So, whatever possessed me to join in on the fun? First off, the competition is for everyone. You are put on a team with people who knit socks at a similar speed to yours. So, until that last round, everyone has a chance to progress. I had three goals for Sock Madness: have fun, get to round three at least and focus on speeding up my knitting. I am definitely having fun (in a totally stressful, nerve wracking way), I made it to round three and I have found some strategies to help me knit faster (mainly, focussed knitting in limited time frames). As a bonus, I get socks out of the deal. It is a win-win situation all around!

The first round sock this year was Alohomora by Malena Andersen (her first ever published design — congratulations Malena!). It was an easy yet interesting knit. These are such a comfy pair of socks. I love them.

Alohomora Socks

Anyone who finished Alohomora in less than two weeks moved on to the second round of the competition. In total, 521 of the over 700 registrants finished both socks and moved to the second round. Another 116 participants managed to finish at least one sock during the two weeks and became “cheerleaders”, welcome to knit along, but no longer able to advance in the rounds. Once the round was over, much anxious checking of website and email ensued while waiting for the specs for the pattern and then for the actual pattern to materialize.

The second round sock was a lovely cabled design, Cable Madness by Karen Buhr.

Cable Madness

This time around, the first 32 people from each team to finish their socks, advance to the next round. After a concerted effort to knit as quickly as possible, I was number 6 to finish on my team. Woo hoo!

Once finished these socks, qualifying participants received a bonus pattern to knit while waiting for the round if so desired.  I passed on knitting those socks for the time being as I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy.  More on that later.

Now, I wait for the round to be over, admire everyone’s fabulous socks, knit on other projects and prepare to stalk the Sock Madness group and my email for the information for the next round.


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