Mar 22, 2015

Natural Affinities

Personally, I prefer natural fibers. This means I gravitate toward yarn made with cotton, wool, bamboo, silk and similar materials. 

The same is true for needles, an arena where I favor bamboo. I won’t presume to tell you what type of needle to use, but I will say this: Needle material can make a significant difference in your knitting, so it's well worth experimenting with different options.

Through the years, I’ve used almost every conceivable needle type, but when I switched to bamboo, it transformed my knitting experience and the finished result.

Bamboo needles are light and provide just the right mix of “slip and grip” for me. The surface allows stitches to slip off readily with little resistance, but it also grips stitches securely enough so they don’t leap into oblivion when I stop mid-row or lay my knitting down.

The key point is this: No matter what you’re knitting, choose the fiber, stitch and needle combination that works best for you. Just keep in mind that substituting yarn or switching from one needle type to another may affect stitch and row gauge, and it can alter overall appearance.

In my case, bamboo needles helped me achieve a more consistent tension and made it much easier to hit gauge on the first or second try.

Because someone will ask, all the photos show versions of the bamboo stitch, a favorite of mine for all the reasons you know so well: It’s fast, it’s easy and with the right adaptations, it’s reversible (attractive on both sides).

Also because someone will ask, the yarns shown are:
Turquoise: Brilla (Filatura di Crosa; 42% cotton, 58% rayon)
Pink: Royal Bamboo (Plymouth Yarn; 100% bamboo)

At one end of the spectrum we have bamboo yarn, needles and stitches, examples of the many natural affinities ruling my knitting life.

At the opposite end we have photography, one of many unnatural affinities offering significant (ahem) opportunity for improvement.

For more tips, tricks and tools, click here.


  1. Good advice about testing different needle types.

    Regarding photography, I empathize ... and struggle with it too ; )

  2. I've always been told to use bamboo/wood needles with cotton. My gauge totally changed when I did that.


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