My new year knitting program is going to include smaller projects, namely socks and mittens. I began The Woolly Thistle Mitten KAL (knit-along) this month (2/2020) and while knitting my mittens, I’ve used 9 inch circular needles, Flexi-flips and DPN’s. Here is my opinion on all three.
A Look at 9-Inch Circular Needles
I really like the little 9 inch circular needles. I think I first used them when I made a little baby bootie (never made the second bootie!) But they were too big for the cuff of the bootie so I used DPNs. I also used them to knit the sleeves of the Polliwog Popover baby sweater sleeves.
Here you can see my Latvian Braid (first one I ever made) using two yarn colors on a 9 inch needle. I think Fontana is unimpressed, but I had fun making it. After doing a Latvian braid on the Milet mittens using Flexi-flips, I realized a 9-inch circular makes for a neater braid.
Overall, I do love using the small 9-inch circular needles. Yarn holders for the ends of the needles are necessary, and the tight circumference can tire my hands quicker, making them ache. Also my colorwork knitting is very sloooow on tiny needles because the stitches are so small and tight.
I have the ChiaoGoo and Hiya Hiya 9-inch and they are both very similar.
Three-Needle Knitting With Addi Flexi-Flips (Size Problems) and Hiya Hiya Flyers
Both Addi Flexi-flips and Hiya Hiya Flyers brands come as a three-needle set. You knit with two needles holding the yarn and use the third to knit. A bit like DPN’s but with fewer, and longer, needles, that flex.
Addi has different tips on the end of each needle so you can knit with either sharp or blunt points.
Using the 3-needle set is easier than DPN’s as there 1 or 2 fewer needle changes, depending on the number of DPNs used, but I still have some trouble with the beginning of round stitches. See my braid rows below and how the BOR colors are off. I do have trouble adding a 3rd needle to start a row.
Also with only two needles holding the work, I found that I was dropping stitches, so I began to put stitch blockers at the end of the needle not being used.
I have both brands and the needles are similar. The tube connecting the needles is a little longer on the Hiya brand, and Addi’s needles are a little longer overall. Addi’s come in a tube and Hiya’s come in a plastic bag.
Addi’s Incorrect Sizing
But I want to warn you of one crucial difference and it has to do with needle size – dimension.
When I began knitting my first Milet mittens, I ordered (what I thought was) a size 1.5 US set of Addi Flexi flips. I ordered them from Wool and Company and they were listed as size 1.5 US – no mm size was mentioned. However, when they arrived, the tag simply said 2.75mm (see tag below). I had to look it up, and come to find out 2.75mm does not equal 1.5, it equals size 2. The needles were too large.
So I checked my older pair of Flexi’s which actually says 3.0mm / US2. (See the photo below) BUT…3.0 mm does NOT equal 2, it equals 2.5 US…!!!!
I went back to my order form at Wool and Company to make sure I did not mistakenly order the wrong thing. I did not. I kept the size “2” needles since I didn’t have that size, but I still needed a 1.5 size for my mittens. So I looked at other places online. The small size needle is hard to come by but Amazon had them and advertised them incorrectly also. Or should I say, they were advertised as Addi Flexi Flips advertises them.
Jimmy Beans Wool was where I saw the only notice to customers that the sizes of the Flexi Flips were off. They mention that the smaller size needles are off in the product paragraph. I wasn’t crazy – the needle sizes are not true to advertising. And only 4 of the smallest sizes are listed wrong – all other sizes seem to equate correctly.
If you buy according to the metric system you are fine, but those of us in the US will be using the wrong size needles unless we compare the mm size to US sizing.
The Basic DPNs
I have a heck of a time beginning any small item using DPN’s (double-point needles. With all those pointy sticks in the way, it’s not fun to keep track of where I am and what I’m doing.
I think it’s actually a little better when using very small needles to knit socks or mittens. The Snowfall sock pattern below has a repeat pattern that fits nicely on four, size one, metal, DPNs. But I did cast on using a 9 inch circular and knit the ribbing before changing to DPNs.
Many knitters use the Magic Loop method to knit in the round. I have looked into it, on YouTube, and found a toe-up sock example, which I may try one day soon.
I can’t give an opinion on the Magic Loop method because I have never used it. Basically you use a long circular needle, split the stitches, and knit as in the round. Some clever people knit two pair (both mittens or both socks) at one time on the same long needle!
Knitting Inside Out… What?
Something else I have just learned is that when knitting colorwork some knitters knit their mittens, socks, and whatever, inside out! Crazy right? The reason for doing this is to keep the floats more uniform and less tight.
I had to search YouTube for that information as well. Melissa B has a good video explaining how simple it is to knit inside out.
In conclusion, I’d have to say from personal experience that I prefer casting on with circular needles. If I need to do a Latvian Braid, circular is my choice. If needle size is not too small – say size 0 – 2, I don’t mind knitting along with them either. Normal knitting, or stripes, are easy, but for very small sizes and colorwork, they can make my hands ache.
Beyond that, it really depends upon the project at hand. I still have a lot to learn and new methods to try, and a pair of mittens to finish.