I’m confused on why you would knit with circular needles. Do they have a special purpose? What kinds of things can you knit with the two types of needles? I was just wondering the difference.
Circular needles are mainly for projects knit in the round (i.e., in a tube); however, many (dare I say “most”) experienced knitters use circular needles for just about everything because they can be used in place of straight needles, too.
Circs are particularly handy when you have a worked-flat project with lots of stitches. The connecting cable between the circular needles allows the bulk of the project to rest in your lap; thus, taking a strain off your wrists and hands.
For projects that require a small tube (such as hats and mittens), many knitters still use circular needles by using a variety of methods for when the knitting becomes too short to fit around the circs: magic loop, two circular needles, or traveling loop. Check out the videos on this site to see the first two mentioned: http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/advanced-techniques
And here’s some information about traveling loop: http://impeccableknits.wordpress.com/traveling-loop/
They can be used for anything flat or in the round which means a seamless tube.
I use them for everything and haven’t used straight needles in years. I can’t imagine socks, mittens or hats with seams. Socks would be uncomfortable and hat and mitten seams often interrupt the design.
I also like circs and use them all the time because you no longer need worry about where the other needle is. It’s right there with your knitting and not hiding in the couch. Then too, you won’t frighten you seatmates on airplane trips when you knit with circs instead of long, flashing sticks.
Another good thing is that they store easily. You can coil them up and put them back in the package they came in. They take up a lot less space than long needles. I think they make straight needles shorter now, but you can still get old needles at thrift stores that are up to 14 inches long! That’s a lot of needle to poke someone with that’s sitting next to you. I use only circulars myself. The Knitpicks interchangeables are especially nice because you can combine two or more cables if you’re knitting a large sweater. Circulars are also good if you’re going to knit a large blanket or knit a scarf lengthwise rather than widthwise. You can easily cast on 200-300 stitches on one. There’s a pattern I want to do one of these days that casts on 300 stitches for a scarf. It’s done in garter. Colors are changed every row so it looks striped. The ends are clipped leaving a few inches and this is used as a fringe on the ends. Really cute!
I wouldn’t advise curling them up and putting them back in the package with some brands. Then you have to keep using a hot water dip to keep them straightened out. But however you do store them, one of them isn’t going to run away, so you always have 2 needles to knit with…
If you’re going to start with a set of interchangeables I’d get one that has a flexible cable without memory. That means you don’t have to dip them in hot water or other method of uncoiling them. These all have nice cords as I understand it. I have the KP Nickle plated.
Knitpicks Options have Harmony (wood), Nickle plated, and Zephyrs (plastic). They have a “try it” set you can get.
Addi Turbos are nice, but more expensive if that is a consideration.
Clover Takumi Combo interchangeables are supposed to be good. My friend loves them.
Hiya Hiya is a good one as well.