Tools, good ones, make such a difference when working on a project. As a knitter, the primary tool is the knitting needle and what makes a knitting needle "good" is just so subjective.
Some of the considerations include the needle material (wood, metal, or acrylic), configuration (DPN, circular, straight), needle shape (round or square) and tip pointy-ness. And then within each of these sections are subsections upon subsections. And each one of these begets more decisions. Oh and if you are a circular needle fan, do you do fixed circulars or an interchangeable set?
For me, the best knitting needle is the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles. I have them in interchangeable, fixed, 9in circs and DPNs. These needles work for me because they have very pointy tips, and amazing wire-y cables that are AMAZING for magic looping.
They are steel, so they don't make my hands smell like pennies (like Addi needles used to, I know they've changed). They have a crazy smooth join, which means when my stitches are too tight they don't snag (like the KnitPicks/Knitter's Pride needles do). They also have their sizes (and lengths on the interchangeable cables) lasered in, and somehow they don't wear off or have any sort of impact on the smoothness of the needle.
ChiaoGoo is not the most popular or flashiest brand Signatures), they don't come in fun colors (KnitPicks/Knitter's Pride), and they aren't square or have leather cables (like Kollage). But, they also don't cost a fortune (Signatures) or have a miles long waiting list (DyakCraft - which has cleared its backlog, but are unfortunately unable to make their DarnPretty Needles after a fire at their suppliers factories).
Now all the things I've mentioned make them the perfect needle for me, but you may need a totally setup. Maybe the Addi Sock Rockets are the only ones that make it possible for you to knit socks, maybe you can only get gauge with a square needle.
This whole idea of finding your best needles was inspired because recently I stupidly left a knitting project out on the couch and Jack (the cat) managed to get his teeth into the cables. This meant that it was time for me to order a few new ones, because the idea of not having cables for my interchangeable set, was seriously upsetting, because these needles are my most favorite of all!
Since getting my ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles I've tried others (including their traditional tip needle) and it just didn't work for me. My knitting was was slow and sluggish and I kept splitting stitches. I was not being the best knitter I could be.
But that doesn't mean that everyone should be running out to by ChiaoGoos, although I am a big fan and suggest that you might try one if you are looking for a pretty fast, pointy needle and you plan to do magic loop (or not). But if you find that there is something not quite right with your needles, try another kind.
If you are in the KnitPicks/Knitter's Pride universe, they have a million different types of tips (okay maybe a dozen at this stage) and I know there are ladies in my knit night group who swear by the Carbonz because they are fast like metal but are warmer and have a bit of flex in them.
I know of one knitter who loves the Knitter's Pride needles because she can switch between material types depending on where she is going, like out hunting with her husband. When she uses metal needles the clicking sound drives him batty, but the wood ones don't make a peep.
So what are your favorite needles and why? Please share with me your favorite needles and why. I would love to have a way of recommending needles to new-ish knitters based on their knitting needs, rather than thinking that all needles are the same. Maybe your hint will make knitting easier for another knitter out there.
Oh I found buttons for the little red sweater. Now I just have to convince my mom to sew them on for me, because she is the official button sewist of the family. Maybe another pair of knitted socks will be a fair trade to her.