If you love knitting with circular needles, you'll soon find that you have your own collection of needles that can become unruly. Circular needles can be substituted for straight needles with the added advantage of being able to move stitches off either end. They are so versatile that I've (almost) retired my straight needles.
If you open them from their store package, and drape them into a needle holder, like Della Q's Hanging Circular Needle Organizer (pictured below), you'll be able to see the needle size easily. The organizers hold needles in 21 individual pockets, labeled in US and Metric sizes, ranging from US 000 - 17 / 1.5mm - 12mm. There is a bottom zippered section which I love to tuck in my metal Susan Bates Knit Check so I can measure the size of the needles that fall out, which they sometimes do if you have more than one needle in a slot. I have several size 6 needles in varying lengths and it always seems to be that 12" needle that falls to the floor when I'm pulling out my longer ones. Plus, if you're tired and just before heading to bed you put up your needles of the project you stayed up to finish, you might (just might) slip it in the wrong pocket so having a knit check handy is important. In order for this system to work, you need to have a visible, handy place to hang your organizer. And just know that it will not look as nice as this picture once it's full of needles. These organizers allow you to hang different length needles in the same pocket, but do not have a way of listing or labeling the lengths (aside from what's printed on the side of the needle...which wears off in time).
There are advantages to storing them in the original packaging (pictured below). They are easy to store and you can stand them up in a box, bin, or hanging file in a drawer. The size is clearly marked on the packaging along with the length! Sometimes it is difficult to guess the length of a needle and you may not always have a tape measure handy. If you want to be able to quickly, and exactly know the length of a needle, keeping it in the original packaging is the way to go. And most brands make the packets easy to open and close. One problem with this system, is that the needles are usually curled twice to fit into the small packet. So when you open them, they stay curled. This can make knitting cumbersome and fiddly, especially if the ends keep flopping about, or the unused portion of the cable decides to twist on itself. To straighten the needles, fill a sink with hot water and hold the needles at each join, where the metal or wooden tip meets the plastic cord. Keep your fingers over the join so water doesn't reach the wood or metal, and immerse the plastic cord in the water. Keep a bit of tension on the needles so that they are straight. The water will soften the cord a bit, removing memory from the curled packaging. (This works better with some brands than others.)
Lastly, you can store them in a Ziploc freezer bag (which is a little firmer than the regular plastic bags so it stands up nicely). This is a good system if you've lost your original packaging, or you want a larger bag to use instead of the small original packaging. This allows the needles to curl less and gives them more room. And you can store more than one needle inside each bag to combine varying lengths if you don't mind the lengths not being labeled. All of the bags can be placed in a box, plastic or cloth bin, tray or hole punched and stored in a three ring binder.
I hope this has given you some ideas for storing and taming unruly circulars. If you have a storage or taming idea please leave it in the comments - I'd love to hear it! Happy Knitting!
Hello! I'm Donna Estin, knitwear designer, certified master knitter and instructor. I enjoy designing artistic knitwear that is comfortable. I specialize in sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.