This is Part Two of the list I started discussing on Monday, because one post just wasn't enough to contain all the goodness!
4. Interchangeable needle set
I can’t claim to have tried many of these – although I think they’re worth it, they are pretty pricey. And if you have a set that you love, you really don’t need more than one (maybe two; one set with blunter points and one sharper).
I only own the Chiaogoo Red Twist interchangeable needle set, and I really couldn’t be happier with it. It might not be the best for every knitter: I think when you’re going to be spending $150-$250 on an admittedly very nice set of tools, it pays to think about what you really want, and do some research to find which set would fit your needs the best. I like knitting with sharper points, and I prefer metal to bamboo. I also looked for needles with a very smooth join between the needle tip and the cable, and one that wouldn’t come undone as I was knitting. I don’t knit a lot of small-circumference projects with circular needles (I prefer DPNs for those), so I looked for longer cables and little connectors to join the cables to make even longer ones. I wanted a well-designed storage case, with the tip sizes marked on the pockets – and on the needles themselves, come to think of it, to make it easy to identify them without having to measure. And extras like stitch markers are always nice, of course, but not essential.
And that’s how I came to decide on the Chiaogoo. I read reviews like the ones at Knitter’s Review, and looked at comparisons between the different sets on the market, and based on my list of wants (and my budget too, obviously) the Chiaogoo was the choice I made. I am really happy with the set, as it fulfills all my specifications. They’re my go-to needles now, because they’re so nice to use, and I have nearly every cable in the set taken up in a project.
Although it’s easy to think that you could have a project for every set of needle tips in the set, that’s not true; you’re limited by the number of cables. You can always buy more cables, of course, especially if you find yourself using certain lengths more frequently than others, but it might be better to limit yourself in terms of your ongoing projects anyway. Or so the theory goes...
5. Cable needle
You don't need an expensive one -- even a plastic set is fine, really. Even in a project with a lot of cabling, the needle doesn't really get used as a needle very much. It's mostly a holder, to be honest, and so the quality doesn't matter so much. I'd get a set of three, so I can best match the size of the cable needle to the size of the stitches. There's really nothing worse than slipping a bunch of stitches onto a too-small cable needle, and having them fall off the needle and unravel quickly because they're under tension, and then you have to rip back because you're not good enough at reading cables to fix them...hypothetically speaking, of course ;) I have tried cabling without a cable needle and maybe I'm just not that good at it, because I always end up losing stitches. I prefer to do my cables with a needle, because it saves me time and aggravation in the long run.
I've tried both the U-shaped cables needles (left above) and the flying-bird-shaped ones (right above) and they're both fine. Nearly anything would do in a pinch, like a spare DPN, a bobby pin, a pencil...the possibilities are endless, assuming you have an endless supply of long skinny pointy things at hand.