HomeArticles Posted by Clara Parkes

Author: Clara Parkes

What's in a name? Say "Donegal" and most knitters think of that robust, hearty stuff from County Donegal, spun on a spinning mule and peppered with colorful flecks of tweed. Soft Donegal is still made in County Donegal on a mule and peppered with those colorful

Every region leaves its mark on those who live there, whether they're animals or humans. While the cashmere most of us know best comes from the Himalayas by way of China or Mongolia, cashmere goats live in many places around the world. They just grow

First came Shelter, launched in 2010—and then Loft the following year. Quarry completed the trilogy. All three of the core Brooklyn Tweed yarns shared a very specific parentage. They were made from the coats of Targhee-Columbia sheep from Wyoming, whose fibers were scoured in the United

We have loads of superb mitten books, the best of which tend to focus on a specific cultural tradition. My personal favorites are Lizbeth Upitis' Latvian Mittens, Annemor Sundbø's Norwegian Mittens and Gloves, and Robin Hansen's Favorite Mittens, which captures patterns and techniques from the Canadian Maritimes and Scandinavia.

I first heard about the Exmoor Blueface sheep from John Arbon back in 2010 when I was in London for Knit Nation. This relatively new breed is the result of a cross between Exmoor Horn (a hill breed from north Devon) and Bluefaced Leicester sheep. The UK

Any time I see cashmere with an unusual twist, I get excited. This fine, short-stapled fiber is all about delicate tenderness in a normal plied-yarn construction. But when you twist the same fibers and feed them through a more complex plying machine, one that wiggles the plied

I'm strangely smitten with Stina Tiselius' new collection of knitted potholder patterns. Potholders, you say? I know, I know. Potholders are right up there with washcloths in the pantheon of oft-mocked (yet passionately adored) handknits. I've never made one myself, and I don't dare use the one

If the yarn world were football, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival would be homecoming. The event, begun in 1980, is lovingly referred to by the town in which it takes place: Rhinebeck. Reporting from Rhinebeck, NY, October 17-18, 2015 Always the third full week in October, Rhinebeck brings

New York Sheep and Wool Festival Rhinebeck, NY October 17-18, 2015 If the yarn world were football, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival would be homecoming. The event, begun in 1980, is lovingly referred to by the town in which it takes place: Rhinebeck. Always the third full week

You could say that Julie Weisenberger has a thing for gadgets. The creative brain behind the knitwear design line Cocoknits, Julie has brought us the Knitter's Block, an ingenious set of padded floor tiles that you can assemble in different shapes to block whatever you want.

A few years ago at Interweave Knitting Lab in Manchester, New Hampshire, I ventured into the North Light Fibers booth. I met Sven, who, with his wife, operates a mini-mill that produces their own line of branded yarns in Rhode Island. We got to talking, and

We've reached that point in summer where even I, the ardent wearer of wool, am switching to cooler cottons and linens—even in my swatching. A skein of Twig was placed in my hands at the summer TNNA show in June. It has stayed at the top

It takes guts for an American to move to Australia and start a sheep farm—especially if she is a woman with no prior farming experience. And then she adopts unconventional techniques for sheep farming, techniques that, I might add, appear to be working. That, in a

The National NeedleArts Association's semiannual trade show took place in Columbus earlier this month. It's where knitting industry players come to network, to learn, and to preview new products for fall. It was a crazy, busy weekend of distractions, not even taking into account the high-school

Sometimes the most useful tools are also the simplest. They have no moving parts, they require no batteries or clamps. Consider the humble darning needle, for example. Or this, the Fix-A-Stitch, essentially a snub-nosed two-sided crochet hook. If you've been knitting for a while, you will

Hand-dyers are painters who use yarn as their canvas. Some work their magic on commonly available base yarns, while others seek out the truly rare or unusual. Many more try to find a yarn that falls somewhere in between those extremes, a yarn that is

It seemed so far-fetched, flying all the way to Scotland for just four days. But something was happening in Edinburgh, something that had all the hallmarks of greatness—and I wanted to be there and witness it. The Edinburgh Yarn Festival began last year as a one-day event in a

It all began with a picture on Instagram. Someone shared a gorgeous shot of a yarn I'd never seen before. It looked rugged, crunchy, and soulful, and I suspected it had quite a story behind it—so I hunted around online until I found an Etsy

Imagine if all the wine in the world—red and white alike—were mixed together and sold as generic "wine." Think of how many centuries of craftsmanship and flavor would be lost, and how mediocre it would taste compared with how it would taste if the grapes

To evolve from handspinner to yarn manufacturer is like switching from an upright piano to a pipe organ. Everything is bigger, more powerful and exhilarating. The potential for mistakes is huge, but so is the depth of satisfaction when you get it right. After two years

When your grandmother's maiden name is Woolfolk, it's almost guaranteed that you'll go into the textiles business. Kristin Ford took the hint and has just launched Woolfolk, a yarn company she fittingly named after her grandmother. The initial line-up consists of just two yarns, both unique

For generations, farmers in Texas have raised some extraordinary wool and mohair. We don't hear much about it because the fibers tend to be sold en masse to the textiles industry. In recent years, however, the ending of government subsidies, severe drought conditions, and low-cost international

Erika Knight is the consummate knitwear designer. Teacher, lecturer, and author of countless books, she's been a fixture in the much-vaunted Rowan designer line-up for years. Not only does she know her technique, but she knows her yarn too. After years of paying her dues,

A while ago I received an envelope in the mail. The return address was someplace in California, a name I didn't recognize. The contents weren't wrapped, and there was no note attached. Inside was a book, clearly self-published, titled The Yarn Woman. I flipped over to the

Most knitters have been taught from day one not to tie knots in their yarn—or, at a minimum, not to do so mid-row. We've learned to time our yarn changes to take place at the end of a row. Even if we tie a wee knot, we

At the 2010 Knit Nation market in London, the British yarn scene was just beginning to expand from big brands to smaller, more local producers. John Arbon Textiles had skeins of British wool spun at their own mill, and Renaissance Dyeing had French wool they'd sourced and naturally dyed by

Earlier this year, I started receiving mysterious postcards from someone named Mrs. Crosby. The first was sent from Buenos Aires, then Paris, and finally Lake Como. Truth be told, I already knew who Mrs. Crosby was before the postcards started arriving, but that didn't lessen

It's time to create a "heritage yarn" classification. The notion of "heritage" anything, whether animal breed or seed variety, is best appreciated through a different, sometimes more forgiving lens. More forgiving in that these items haven't been pureed and homogenized and airbrushed and focus-group-tested into

The skein lies furry and limp, a bit like you'd shaved a cat and forgotten to clean it up. Like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, there's no there there. Cirrus is soft all right, with a wonderful wooly fuzz to it. But when I squeeze the skein, squeeze

Maybe it's just January talking, but as soon as I spotted this yarn I thought "cowl." In fact, I could almost imagine a line of women at the Portland International Jetport greeting new arrivals and ceremoniously placing a skein of Baby Alpaca Magna around their

First came the Knitter's Block, an ingenious set of padded floor tiles that you can assemble in different shapes to block whatever you want. Now, Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits has come up with another clever gadget: Knitter's Keep. Here's the premise: How many times have you lost a stitch marker,

Addi Turbos are the Cadillac of nickel-plated brass circular knitting needles, setting a standard against which all others in the market compete. The needles are all made in Germany, to exacting specifications and in impeccable working conditions, and they all carry a lifetime warranty. Naturally, this

When knitters gather, our natural tendency is to don our latest handknits for display. The bigger the event, the greater the excitement around finishing that project, darning the ends, and blocking it before the fairgrounds open. The New York Sheep and Wool Festival—lovingly dubbed Rhinebeck because that's

For several years, knitwear designer Anne Hanson has been sourcing and shipping yarns for her Knitspot club. They tended to come from prominent hand-dyers, in exquisite colors, accompanied by original designs by Anne. Then she decided to go deeper into fiber itself, launching her Bare Naked

Even without knowing what's in it, you instinctively know this yarn is something special. The skein sits in your hands like a hummingbird nest, and it feels just as exotic and precious. Each fine strand nestles within its neighbors, and together they reflect light in

What makes a yarn split? I get asked this question a lot, and the answer is complicated. At a very high level, yarns can split if the fibers lack sufficient cohesion to hold together, or if they've been given insufficient twist at any step of

Kristine Vejar wants to revitalize the California wool industry, and this yarn represents her first step. Vejar is the creative force behind the Oakland yarn shop A Verb for Keeping Warm. Besides having discriminating taste in other people's yarns, which manifests itself in an astonishingly well-curated store,

A strange thing happens when Amy Herzog addresses a crowd. A feeling of optimism and confidence permeates the room, a sense of "at last!" and "so it wasn't me after all." Women sit up in their chairs. More amazingly, they shed their inhibitions and become

Ten years have passed since I began these year-end retrospectives. In that decade, our world has changed significantly—our knitting world and the world at large. Hindsight is a beautiful, decadent thing. It allows us a greater perspective, helps us see the bigger picture that is often

A few years ago, Jill Draper escaped New York City to pursue a quieter, more fiber-filled life. She chose the Hudson Valley partly because of its proximity to Rhinebeck, a charming town she'd discovered through years of attending the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. Jill

The UK has a vibrant textiles history. Most argue that the fortunes of the British empire were, in fact, based on the wool trade. Somewhere along the line, between globalization and our quest for softness, this trade faltered. Today, Britain's wool manufacturing industry is hurting, as

Lopi and I go way back. Growing up, I was always clothed in thick, rugged Icelandic sweaters knit by my maternal grandma. The sweaters (in the Lopapeysa style) were bulky yet surprisingly light, and they always kept me warm. They were all knit from Iceland's distinct "Lopi"

Twice a year, knitting industry folks get together to network, take classes, and do business at a show called TNNA. They bring the latest and greatest samples and prototypes and skeins so freshly dyed they're still slightly wet to the touch. Some authors see their book for

Shepherd Worsted has all the elements of a perfect comfort food. It's soft and easy, comes in large servings, and always satisfies. The Shepherd label actually spans four weights: Shepherd Bulky, Shepherd Worsted (reviewed here), Shepherd Sport, and Shepherd Sock. All contain 100% superwash Merino except

Last weekend at the Howard County Fairgrounds, tens of thousands of people converged for the 39th annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Report from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival West Friendship, MD May 5-6, 2012 Companies mentioned (in order of appearance): Spirit Trail Fiberworks Fiber Optic Yarns The Verdant Gryphon Still River

If you're a knitter, you already know that we do strange things when admiring a new skein of yarn. We might squeeze it, rub it against our neck, perhaps pull it to our face and give it a good sniff. When it's an especially big

Most yarn companies like to launch with a full fleet of products in varying weights and textures. Ewe Ewe Yarns took the complete opposite approach. It launched in 2011 with just one yarn: Wooly Worsted Merino. It's like opening a bakery with only one kind

Few yarns have been around long enough to be considered landmarks, and Tahki's Donegal Tweed is certainly one of them. This earthy yarn is still spun in the very county for which the yarn was named—County Donegal in Ireland. Donegal Tweed is both a style of

Blocking is one of those intensely personal things, like swatching and even knitting itself. Some of us have a laissez-faire, spritz-and-stretch attitude that suits us just fine—while others are not content until they have pinned and starched and ironed every yarn-over into total submission. Here's

[caption id="attachment_7401" align="alignleft" width="400"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption] The Sincere Sheep was launched by Brooke Sinnes in 2011. Based in Northern California, Brooke focuses on carefully sourced natural fibers—in both yarn and roving form—to which she applies color using only natural dyes. Her taste in fibers is exquisite, a

Let's cut to the chase: Loft is pretty much perfect. If I had all 32 colors at my disposal, I could easily see myself knitting with nothing but this yarn for the rest of my life. Well, that might be an exaggeration—but only slight. After all,

If festivals were friends, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York, would be among my oldest and dearest. The more years I go, the more familiar each part of the event becomes. Attending is as much about tradition and ritual as it

Whenever you take a single strand of continuous fibers and apply twist, you get something innately vulnerable and unbalanced. We have all sorts of tricks for beefing up the fibers, adding secret plies and twists and whatnot. But ultimately, such a yarn is so ill-suited

About 6,000 people—roughly the population of Harvard, Massachusetts—knitters all, attended this year's Sock Summit. It took place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, from July 28th to the 31st. When you create an atmosphere of glee, and people feel sheer excitement at being present,

Blocking is to knitting what baking is to bread. It's the final act that turns a series of random stitches into beautiful, cohesive fabric. Some view blocking as drudgery, others find it daunting. Regardless of how you feel, blocking is essential for a truly finished look. Proper

Classic Elite Yarns has introduced a new undyed, natural-colors-only yarn collection called Mountaintop. The collection features three yarns to start, each of which is spun in Peru of fibers that have not been dyed or rendered machine-washable. [caption id="attachment_7407" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Crestone[/caption] First is Crestone, a hearty and

Here's a novel approach to picking well-fitting garments. Instead of studying gussets and darts and short-rows, measuring every inch of your body and calculating your shape down to the last stitch and row, just choose something you know will look good. Easier said than done. But it

The global cashmere market has had its share of booms and busts. Some of the most significant changes came within the past two decades as our thirst for inexpensive cashmere led to overgrazing and, ultimately, the desertification of Mongolia. While the bulk of the world's cashmere

Back in 2000 when I began Knitter's Review, I assumed it'd be easy to find out where the fibers in my yarn came from—and, in the case of wool, which sheep breed had been used. Slowly the reality sank in. Fibers tend to be sourced from

A plied yarn is greater than the sum of its parts. The mere act of twisting strands of spun fiber together produces a material that occupies more space than would those strands if they were simply held together without twist. Blue Sky Fibers (formerly Blue

Letting a designer create his or her own yarn from scratch is like giving a child the keys to a candy store. It's easy to lose focus and get overwhelmed by all the choices. It takes maturity and willpower to go slowly, be patient, and

Pam Allen has worn many hats in the knitting world. She was a knitwear designer, she wrote Knitting for Dummies, she edited Interweave Knits magazine, and she was the creative director for Classic Elite Yarns. Then, in January of this year, she appeared to have vanished from the knitting

Just 60 miles north of New York is a 100-acre farm populated with some extraordinary sheep. These animals are all direct descendants of five prize-winning Saxon Merino studs that Eugene Wyatt flew to the U.S. from Australia in 1990, just four years after Australia lifted

In October 2014, Sweet Grass Wool was purchased by Kristine Vejar of A Verb for Keeping Warm. This review has been kept up here because it was one of my favorite breed-specific wools ever, and because Patti deserves to be remembered. Patti's legacy is in

China has brought us many exciting fiber innovations over the last decade, from bamboo to crab shells, jade, milk, and soy. Today, thanks to an enterprising ex-reindeer-herder in the Evenk Autonomous Banner of Inner Mongolia, we have an extraordinary new fiber on the horizon. The Evenk

Each word, photograph, and illustration in this book was carefully scrutinized by me, my technical editor Sandi Rosner, and several extremely observant editors at Potter Craft over a period of several months. And yet a few errors were discovered after the manuscript went to press. I

A great and often heated debate exists between those knitters who like acrylic blends and those who don't. Much of that debate has actually been fueled by blends that simply don't live up to their potential. I personally have a strong preference for natural fibers. When

Blue Sky Alpacas (now Blue Sky Fibers) was the belle of the ball at the most recent TNNA. The company cleverly did an end-run around any confusion that may exist about its name, which leads many to believe it only sells alpaca yarns. The company got

Pattern by Amy Ripton Clara's Note Colorful hand-dyed yarns are fabulous to look at on the skein, but sometimes can be a little tricky to knit. The more striking the color combinations, the more they tend to obscure any stitch patterning you wanted to use. Lace, ribbing,

If butter could be spun into yarn, that yarn would be Malabrigo. As a company, Malabrigo actually offers several different kinds of yarn—including a perky new sock yarn, a decadent silk/Merino blend, and the chunky Merino reviewed here. But when people say "Malabrigo" they usually mean

We have an insatiable appetite for new and novel fibers. We've created yarns made from corn and bamboo. We've seen yarns dusted with jade, laced with copper, and even fortified with crushed crab shells and seaweed. So it should come as no surprise when I

Knitting needles are simple tools. They're basically a long shaft with a point at one end. And double-pointed needles (DPNs) have, as the name suggests, a point at each end. The circumference of the needle shaft determines the size of each stitch. The shape of

Riihivilla is a happy yarn discovery. It comes from a small family business in Finland and is available to a global market thanks to the wonders of the Internet. Riihivilla is run by Leena Riihelä and her husband. She collects fleeces from a nearby sheep farm, sorts

Dream in Color is run by friends Veronica and Nancy. The magic begins when the yarns are hand-dyed using a process Veronica calls "veil dyeing." As with most hand-dyers, Veronica guards her dye secrets very closely. But the end result is a semisolid yarn whose extreme

A fixture in Denmark's knitting scene for more than 30 years, Marianne Isager is finally—and fittingly—entering the U.S. market. She dipped her toes in our waters a few years ago when Interweave Press published the English translation of her book, Knitting Out of Africa. But that book represents a

This yarn is like a good rollerball pen. It's widely available, doesn't cost a fortune, feels great in your hands, and flatters your handwriting no matter what you write. In yarnspeak, this means Fresco is affordable, available, and willing to accommodate pretty much anything your

I've used Denise Interchangeable knitting needles for years now, first using the standard set and more recently the pink Interchangeables. They're infinitely portable, flexible, and practical for almost every knitting use. If I'd had to come up with one complaint, it would've been the shiny plastic box in which

When I first started acquiring knitting needles, I religiously kept all their packaging and vowed to keep each needle in its corresponding package for safekeeping. It seemed like brilliant idea, but entropy got the best of me. Some 20 years later my house is overrun with

Linen has its fans and foes in the handknitting world. Derived from the stalk of the flax plant, linen fiber produces a strong, lustrous material that lasts a long, long time. But soft and fluffy it is not—and for many knitters, that's the most important

Until now, Green Mountain Spinnery yarns were primarily in the DK- to worsted-weight range, with yarns like Mountain Mohair and Weekend Wool. These yarns are great for most projects, but if you want to knit socks or lace? Alas, you'd have to look elsewhere. But the Vermont-based community spinnery

Fingerless mitts pattern excerpted from The Knitter's Book of Yarn This pattern was designed with gorgeous artisanal yarns in mind. You know, the kinds that cost a fortune and so you only buy one skein and then struggle to figure out what you can make with

Many people reserve the term "novelty yarn" for fluffy synthetic concoctions. But Silk Rhapsody proves that you can have a novelty effect with entirely natural materials. It's no coincidence that Silk Rhapsody has risen in popularity while synthetic novelty yarns have declined. As people discover they

While I take my knitting with me everywhere, I don't actually knit while I'm on the go. Lacking the ability to focus simultaneously on safe navigation and proper stitchwork, I tend to wait until I've found a comfortable spot—and then I pull out my knitting. So you'll understand why, when

Habu Cashmere represents all the things I love about yarn. On the skein, it looks and feels like one thing. But if you have faith, cast on, and walk through your project, you'll gradually witness the yarn come alive and transform into something totally different. Habu

For months, knitters everywhere have waxed poetic about a new miracle yarn made from seaweed. Years of being pitched the latest "revolutionary" new products have made me a bit of a skeptic, but I finally succumbed. I had to see what Sea Silk was all

When I first heard that Knit Picks was producing its own needles, I thought, "Uh-oh, this is the end of the needle market as we know it." I knew Knit Picks would bring a good product to market and sell it at wholesale prices directly

I first set eyes on this yarn during a visit to La Lana Wools, the famous fiber shop in Taos, New Mexico, now gone. La Lana has the visual overwhelm of a Mexican market, only instead of heaping vats of colorful spices and grains you have mounds

I still remember my first mail-order yarn purchase. It was from a mythical warehouse-sized place in Western Massachusetts where people pushed around entire shopping carts full of yarns. The yarn store—called Webs—offered a "color book" with generous samples of all its house yarns for knitting

For all the progress we've made over the centuries—the gadgets, the inventions, the miracle potions and cures—there are still some things upon which we really can't improve. This yarn is a perfect example. In Peru, rural artisan and Indian farmers are using pre-Columbian farming techniques to

For the last 10+ years, Barbara Parry and her husband have been establishing a flock of Cormo and Border Leicester sheep at their 220-acre farm in western Massachusetts. More recently, she began documenting her daily life on the farm in her blog, Sheepgal—it's one of my daily

I have a confession to make. When I'm feeling low and have already eaten all the chocolate in the house, I take myself to Virtual Yarns and pretend I'm shopping for a new project. I can spend hours there browsing through dozens of stunningly complex and

One of my very favorite Merino yarns, Aurora 8, has a large and loyal following. It has the sponginess of a well-yeasted bread dough, paired with the exquisite softness of merino. It knits up quickly and easily. Karabella Yarns upped the ante by releasing a bulky version

We've seen yarns that shift from color to color, and even from texture to texture—slubby to smooth, bouclé to bumpy. But Noro has just upped the ante with a yarn that not only shifts colors but actual fiber content: wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca, angora, kid

Put on a sweater made from Sylvan Spirit and you'll immediately become a tree hugger—not because you love trees, but because you're wearing one.   First introduced in the summer of 2002, this yarn is composed of 50% wool and 50% Tencel lyocell, which is a manufactured fiber derived

We've seen yarn that mimics nearly every surface texture, from sequined fur to terrycloth, and denim. It was only a matter of time before suede was added to the list. That's what Berroco has done with Suede, a new yarn for spring 2004. Creative Director Margery

Modeled after similar devices that were popular in earlier times, this nifty little tool will effectively cut through most yarns without posing any risks to your fingers. While most of us carry scissors for this same purpose, some occasions—air travel, jury duty, or any other high-security

For more than 140 years, sheep have grazed along the Columbia Plateau in north central Oregon. Many of them were brought there by rancher Richard Rolland Hinton, a homesteader and respected sheepman whose early crossbreeding efforts helped develop what eventually became the Columbia sheep breed. Although

Occupying 3,000 acres along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, Beaverslide Dry Goods is a family ranch whose Rambouillet/Merino sheep produce the yarns you see here. When the sheep are shorn, their fibers are sent to a small woolen mill in Alberta, Canada, for processing. The mill practices

Restaurants sometimes offer a house wine that's of decent quality, reasonably priced, and available by the glass. Some yarn shops offer the knitterly equivalent, their own "house" yarn. And just like house wines, some are more memorable than others. Halcyon Yarn is one of the most

If you've been to a yarn shop lately, you've likely seen an odd little plastic device clamped to a table. The crank handle turns a conical center in wobbly circular rotations much like the Tilt-a-Whirl amusement park rides. What is this odd thing, why do so

Few companies can produce consistently beautiful hand-dyed yarns in quantities sufficient enough for large-scale distribution. Lorna's Laces is one. The color combinations range from brilliant to bare whispers, with a small line of single colors that still carry subtle variations in hue. Although some catalogs and Web

Who says you can only knit with yarn? The truth is, if you can wrap it around your needles and make stitches with it, you can knit with just about anything—from recycled grocery bags to licorice. Knitting your own jewelry can be lots of fun, and

Every once in a while I stumble across a technique that makes knitting fun again. This time it came from adding bright, beautiful beads to my knitting. Whether as eyes for animal motifs, glitter for evening attire, or just a little something extra on a simple

Kidsilk Haze belongs on that short list of exquisite, special-occasion yarns. It combines two delicate strands of silk with the very finest mohair fibers an angora goat ever produces. The silk glimmers through the gentle mohair fuzz like San Francisco's city skyline through the fog. Did

A common misconception is that all yarns are alike, and that substituting one for another is merely a process of swapping needle sizes until it knits at your pattern's intended gauge. At the other end of the spectrum are knitters who live in fear of varying

Have you ever wondered why some people are drawn to one color, while others prefer a totally different palette? Why do we feel blue, roll out the red carpet for royalty, or get green with envy? Many theorists believe that colors offer a direct insight into

Whenever I visit yarn shops, I always ask the staff about their personal favorites. When the folks at San Francisco's Atelier Yarns and Little Rock's Handworks Gallery both raved about this yarn, I knew I had to review it. (Both stores are, alas, long gone.) A smooth yet lofty Italian

Many people are intimidated by the concept of using double-pointed needles, since it requires coordination of not two but four (and even five) separate needles. The truth is, once you get the hang of them, DPNs are extremely easy and useful tools. Why go for DPNs? Double-pointed

Circular needles aren't actually circular – they're made up of a long strand of nylon cord with two short needles attached at either end. Because each end has a pointed needle, you don't have to stop at the end of a row and turn your work