Deciding where to spend our money on needles could be pretty easy if all we needed to decide was whether we would use single pointed, doubled pointed or circular needles most but that is not the only choice we need to make. Each of those three types of needles are also available in a myriad of materials from plated aluminum to an engineered milk protein polymer that resembles plastic called casein. Just as for choosing the type of knitting needles to purchase you can make educated decisions when making your purchases based on the types of yarn you prefer to knit with. We’ll be taking a look at the four most commonly available materials – wood, bamboo, plastic and metal.
In the image above we have a sampling of dpns in (from left to right) metal, bamboo, plastic and wood (ebony). Today we’ll take a look at wood.
Wood is a common material used to make knitting needles at a variety of price points depending upon the type of wood used. Unidentified woods or birch are generally the least expensive with rosewood and ebony topping the list. There are many advantages to wooden knitting needles, including a warmer and more organic feel and lighter weight. Some with arthritis or other hand or wrist issues prefer wooden needles because of these traits.
One big advantage of wood needles is that you can do some maintenance to extend their life. Wood can be lightly sanded with vary fine grade sandpaper or filed with an emery board if snags develope. You can even re-wax them if the finish wears over time with bees wax and some good hard buffing.
Wooden needles do have more friction than some other material options which can be helpful when new to knitting, working with especially slippery fibers like silk, rayon and other engineered fibers or for loose knitters. Tighter or faster knitters may find wood slows them down. Wood is also prone to breaking, especially the smaller needle sizes. Broken wooden dpns can be reused as make-shift cable needles so don’t throw them out!
Two of the most widely distributed wooden needle brands are Brittany and Lantern Moon. Brittany primarily uses birch for their needles so is often the economical choice, though they only make dpns and straight needles. For basic wooden circular needles try Addi Naturas.
Lantern Moon is a fair trade company that buys their handcrafted supplies from nations around the world with Vietnam being one of their major sources. They offer all three needles types in a variety of woods – rosewood, ebony, blondwood, and coconut palm wood. They offer single point straight needles in 10, 12 and 14″ lengths. Sox Stix are their dpns in 5 or 6″ lengths and come in sizes US0-5. Their 7″ length dpns are available from US0-17. Destiny Circular Needles are their circs and offered in sizes US3-17 in 16, 16, 32 and 40″ lengths. They also offer crochet hooks in ebony and rosewood. The fair trade aspects and different wood options do carry a slightly higher price tag, but many find it a wonderful way to treat themselves while also helping craftpersons make a livable wage.
Another source of blondwood and rosewood needles of all types is Colonial Needle. They offer circulars in US3-15 in lengths of 16, 24, and 32″, dpns in 5.5″ and 8″ lengths for US0-15 sizes.