I love charity shops. I’m a bargain hunter. I’m a hater of waste. I’m a lover of giving new life to old things. But. But none of my local charity shops sell secondhand knitting needles and when they do sell wool/yarn, it’s just basic acrylic, new and pretty expensive actually. And as for the patterns, there’s clearly a good reason why they were given away; tatty, old, out-of-date, hideously bad taste … It’s a great disappointment. Although it’s possibly a good thing financially.
However. However, when we go to Portsmouth for our hospital jaunt there is a wee charity shop inside the very hospital and they have a beautiful stash of knitting needles. They have to hide them under the counter because they’re so dangerous (but it’s lot less dangerous then me and my trailing knitting bag of sharp, pointy things, never mind all the dangerous things I generally carry with me) but they get them out and let you have a nice, old rummage.
Older needles are encoded in a different language to the one that I speak; my knitting friend does speak this language so when we talk about what needles we want, we have to break out a needle gauge as a translator. I recommend one of this any time you take a trip into a charity shop dreaming, wishing and hoping that they might stock knitting needles.
The traditional standard (boring) needles are the grey stainless steel ones. I have a set of those already, from an aunt. There is always plenty of those in stock but this what caught my eye:
Beautiful metallic needles! Aren’t they pretty? And I thought ‘novelty’ needles were just a modern phenomenon. It seems crafters have always had an eye for the fun and beautiful as well as the practical. And isn’t that how it should be?
This is quite a standard (boring) pair of needles from a well-known brand but look at that cunning little clip? Isn’t that nifty? I wish more needles came with those. And I can’t believe that this never got lost!
Another classic pair but these are nice and skinny, it’s not easy to find skinny needles.
Because I bought so many needles, I also bought this classic (alright then, kitsch) needle holder. Notice that is says ‘pins’ not ‘needles’? I was surprised that it was marked off in metric too. (I found it hard to photograph because of its translucent nature, do you have any tips to share?)
But the best find of all? These lovely old, old needles:
The Double Century was an independent needle factory based in Redditch, Worcestershire during the 19th C; the brand was eventually taken over by those giants Millward but they continued to use the old name on needles up until the 1930s. I wonder how old these needles are? And what they’ve made?