9″ Circular Needles: A Great Tool
I started using 9″ circular needles because I really just hated trying to join in the round with Double Pointed Needles. Working those first few rows got to be such a trial. And can we just say ladders? Oh, how annoying those are. And realizing that I’ve twisted my first row… Ugh. Rip, rip, rip. My dexterity with DPNs is at a minimum these days, I think arthritis is already starting to set in on my left hand, so working around three needles in a project just gets to be almost too much. Quite honestly, I feel like a klutz.
I had already purchased, and used extensively, my Knitters Pride Dreamz circular needles, but, you know, the cord was too long, the tips were too long, and I’m no master at Magic Loop. I had to find something that I could do sweatbands, socks, fingerless gloves with comfortably without fiddling. I came across Clover’s 9″ circular needles and figured what the hey? Why not try them out? Referencing the photo above, the Clovers are the bamboo with the shorter tips in US size 8, the HiyaHiya is the steel set in US size 3. Also, I have purchased ChiaoGoo needles.
What Are DPNs and 9″ Circular Needles?
Double Pointed Needles are usually referred to as DPNs. They range in size from US 000 (1.5 mm) all the way up to US Size 50 (25 mm). They come in the same material choices as any other needles: Aluminum, Steel, Bamboo, Acrylic, and are packaged 5 needles of the same size. Needles 1-4 hold the stitches, and Needle 5 is what you knit the stitches onto. In some patterns, the DPNs are referred to as N1, N2, N3, meaning Needle 1, Needle 2, Needle 3. They measure roughly 6 to 8 inches long, just enough needle to get your project started before transferring it over to circular needles as your stitch count increases. DPNs are great for starting projects in the round from 4 stitches increased up to 30, like hats, socks, and more.
9″ Circular Needles are two needle tips about 1-2 inches long attached to a cord about 6-7 inches long, depending on the maker. Their tips come in the same material as other needles: Aluminum, Steel, Bamboo, Acrylic, but usually bamboo or steel. The cords are not interchangeable, so they are what’s referred to as a fixed circular, meaning you can’t change the cord. The cord is usually made from plastic to plastic coated steel. The joins are made to be seamless and flexible, a must have for projects that are small in diameter. 9″ circular needles are great for mittens, gloves, wrist bands, and anything else that you can make with a fixed number of stitches throughout (minimal increasing or decreasing).
Why would 9″ circular needles be a good replacement for DPNs?
Let me answer that with a question: Do you like using Double Pointed Needles? I don’t. They’re pretty fumbly. It takes a while to knit something up, and since I’m not 100% mastered in my craft yet, I’m always fumbling with the yarn, adjusting the needles, tension, and as soon as I get into a rhythm, I have to stop and go to the next needle. Don’t get me wrong: for starting a project, they’re up there on the scale of handiness, but man oh man, those first few rows are killer. However, starting fingerless gloves or socks, with one constant amount of stitches, it can be trying. I do admit, I look like a knitting badass using a bunch of needles all at once. My image of badass-ness, however, doesn’t heal my already fragile sanity.
Where Do I Buy 9″ Circular Needles?
You can purchase these needles anywhere. I initially bought my Clover 9″ at JoAnn Fabrics, but your LYS should have them as well as any big box store. Keep in mind, though, big box stores may not have the size you’re looking for, as they cater to the most popular demand of the craft, and not the specialized, unless you shop online. The price difference between the Clover 9″ and the HiyaHiya 9″ circular needles is not that vast. Just a couple dollars, really. As of right now on Amazon.com, Clover 9″ in size 3 is $10.92 currently on discount, HiyaHiya 9″ in the same size is only $12.50. ChiaoGoo 9″ Stainless Steel of the same size is $9. These needles are reasonably priced, and usually returnable if you don’t like them.
Here’s a quick rundown of the dimensions of each needle brand:
- Clover 9″ – Needle Tip Length: 1″ in bamboo, 2″ for bamboo and steel; Tilted Taper: 1 1/2″; Cord Length: 5 1/4″ (available in bamboo)
- ChiaoGoo 9″ (Steel) – Needle Tip Length: 1 15/16″; Taper: 9/16″; Cord Length: 5 1/16″ (available in bamboo or steel)
- HiyaHiya 9″ – Needle Tip Length: 1 7/8″; Taper: 1 3/8″; 5 1/4″ (available in bamboo or steel)
How I decided what brand to go with: I searched for circular needles that would give me the freedom to knit an object in the round with the minimum circumference of 6 inches; at first, a wrist band, after that, fingerless gloves. I didn’t want to knit either of these flat and stitch them together. As much as it makes sense to take that easy of a route, it’s just one more step to do in the creation of a gift or an order – and believe me, when I get this next pattern designed, I’ll need to save as many steps as I can. At first, I used Clover 9″ needles. I like Clover. Their bamboo gets sticky, though, and makes for K2tog, P2tog, PSSO and other stitches kinda difficult, due to the taper being a little too blunt. At least in the US Size 8/5.0mm I got. I wanted a needle set that the yarn would flow off of without sticking to the bamboo or joins. I’ve had great luck with steel needles, and I really wanted to use a brand I hadn’t purchased yet.
Enter my new HiyaHiya 9″ Circular Needles.
How do I use 9″ Circular Needles?
Using this size of a circular needle will seem almost impossible at first. My original pair that I’d purchased, the Clover 9″, just hurt, but not for the reasons you’d think. My biggest problem was where to hold them and to remember to loosen my grip. So here’s what I feel you need to know about how to work with these small circular needles.
The cord length takes a bit of getting used to. With certain stitches, like M1L, M1R and adding stitches other ways will make the circs a little full. Occasionally, if the stitches you’re creating are in the middle of your project, as with a M1L/M1R, it tends to feel a little restricting, a little less giving. Since the cord itself is about 6 inches long, there will be some jiggling of the needles to work the stitches you need to. Honestly, though, the more you practice with these, the easier it’ll get. One of the best things about this size circ is the cord is malleable, in that you don’t have to worry about it twisting, or being “formed” from sitting in the package too long. And having to reform the cord with heat and steam to straighten it out is a step you don’t really need to take.
The joins are very smooth. I put this in here because if you’re used to working with Boye or another cost efficient brand, you’ll notice that the cable join, as easy as it is for the stitches to pass over, do inevitably snag. Being fixed circulars, you shouldn’t really have this issue, but it does happen from time to time. The HiyaHiyas are almost seamless, so you won’t need to worry too much about snagging, if at all. And with single ply wool or a wool/silk blend, that really makes a world of difference. ChiaoGoo is the same way, in case you’re wondering, quite possibly smoother than HiyaHiya.
Comparing these 9″ circs to Clovers, the joins on the HiyaHiyas aren’t tilted, and I can’t decide if I enjoy that more. The needles don’t twist so much under the stitches, and I find my grip on them is better than with the Clovers. Occasionally, you’ll notice the needles themselves twisting under your stitches, making them slip around under the yarn. That seemed to happen a lot with the Clovers, but the HiyaHiyas are pretty solid, the needles are stable and knitting up a project like wrist bands or fingerless gloves goes pretty fast. The circular needle set, from tip to join, is a little less than two inches long. Compared to Clover 9″, that’s an extra 7/8ths of an inch of durable steel needle. More to hold, easier to grip.
Don’t be afraid to hold the needles at the joins. If you usually knit with your fingers close to the tips, bunching up your stitches, this circular needle set won’t pose too many problems, if any. However, if you tend to hold your needles about an inch or more away from the tips, holding onto the needles near the cable join won’t snap them, and is a good place to start your familiarization with the size. These are pretty durable. However: make sure to watch how tightly you grip the needles. This is a big one. You’ll experience hand fatigue if you continually use a kung-fu grip. If you find your thumbs burning and sore, stretch out your hands a little bit, rub them down with lotion, and continue on. Also, one thing I noticed I do (maybe it’s because the stitches are so small), I tend to hold my work close to my face, especially during the trickier parts of the pattern with the increases. To prevent eye strain, keep your work away from your face, work with a lighted magnifier if you need to. Take a few minutes out to look out the window, get your eyes to focus on something else, then go back to your project.
Casting on isn’t much of an issue. Forming stitches isn’t either. If you find casting on to something so small may be a bit of an issue, you can always do so with a straight, transfer to the circs, then join in the round.
I still use DPNs. I don’t use them for knitting in the round anymore unless I absolutely have to. They’re mostly for brioche and fisherman’s rib now. I’m glad I made the switch to the 9″ circular needles, I find them so much easier to work with. Yes, they can get a little fiddly when I join in the round, but let’s face it, joining in the round is fiddly. Depending on the size, they do tend to aggravate my arthritis in my left hand, but it’s nothing a little ibuprofen can’t fix. I highly recommend these needles. There really isn’t much more I can say about this without turning it into a straight on novella.
Thank you for your time, and I hope you found this article useful. Have a great day, my knittahs!
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