From the outside my knitting supplies probably look pretty organized. I have seven plastic bins, each about the size of a large shoebox. Six of them hold yarn and the seventh holds supplies. They live on the back staircase, where they are out of the way but reasonably convenient. The casual observer wouldn't know about the circular needle Situation, the way they'd leap for you like a clutch of rabid hedgehogs when you opened that bin. Once you'd stanched the bleeding, there was still the issue of the time required to find the right size. Feels like an 8? Nope, 9. Feels like an 8? Nope, 10. Feels like I might be out of time to knit because I've spent so long looking for the right needle? Yep, you guessed it.
"Deal with circular needles" had been on my list for a long time. I downloaded a pattern for a cute little hand-sewn storage system. Every time I opened Preview, I'd have a little surge of guilt about the porcupine nursery upstairs. My sewing these days is limited to capes and Boy Scout patches (and not very many of those), but I kept thinking I'd get around to all that fiddly measuring and marking at some point. Recently Kate Davies posted about using fishing gear storage for circular needles, and when I searched for something comparable I discovered that I could get a Knitpicks thingummy for the same price. So I did.
If you'd asked me beforehand, I would have told you what to expect: one size 0 needle, a bunch of 1s and 2s because I knit a lot of socks, and some 3s and 4s for lace projects and stuffed toys. (Isn't that Lego guy cute?) I would have told you that the 5-9 envelopes would be pretty empty: the 6/7/8 needles are in heavy rotation, and I hardly ever use 5s or 9s. There'd be three 10s, and a 10.5 and a 13 for felting.
I would have been mostly right, but only mostly. Somehow I have this whole collection of needles in sizes 5 and 9. Those envelopes are not empty; they are bristling. Try as I might, though, I can only think of one project I've made with a size 5 needle (the hoodie on the right, whose owner had the audacity to grow right after I finished his sweater so that it is now on the short side) and one that was the product of a size 9 needle (the skirt on the left).
I have been trying to figure out where these needles came from.
Perhaps I am a stop on the knitting needle underground railway. Perhaps there are signs across the Midwest: "Attention, size 5 and 9 needles! Are you weary of your chains of servitude? Jamie Gladly never uses 5s and 9s, and you can rest at her house." I envision a parade of knitting needles seeking freedom, stumping across the frozen ground as they flee from their owners' stashes of sportweight and heavy worsted. They scamper eagerly up my back steps in search of some tranquility. Maybe?
Perhaps I got them from a friend? Perhaps I had an elderly friend who spent her twilight years cranking out baby clothes on size 5s and then switched to using size 9s as her arthritis worsened? Except I don't have any elderly knitter friends in town.
I try to be sensible in my acquisition of yarn and needles. Our house is small and our family is large, and so it makes sense to be discriminating. I wouldn't go to a yarn shop and say, "Give me all the size 5s! And the 9s too, while you're at it!" So where did they come from? Where where where?