Recently in an attempt to put away a mess from the Christmas rush, I decided to inventory my needles and hooks as they got put away. I have been known to purchase needles or hooks for no definite reason at the time of purchase. I have been known to purchase needles and hooks for the ride home from the yarn shop so I can get a jump start on whatever project I have in mind. In this last instance, I'm not driving. I have been known to purchase the needed hook or needle because I don't have it (a less and less likely scenario as the inventory grows) or because it is in use with another project or i can't find it. I have discovered also that I don't have any of those square needles or hooks or any shape other than round. I'm not sure I want them. I'm not sure I want to even try them. I like round.
I'm not anywhere near done with this. I have not counted the tools in projects. I have not even counted all the ones put away as they belong. It does come to my mind though that I have a wide range of tools in a wide range of materials. There is the wide assortment of anodized aluminum, some plastics, a smaller number of bamboo and woods. I even have a could of antique bone or ivory. I don't use those.
This brings to mind a knit picks podcast of some time ago about materials for tools and how they feel in the hand. Some people use only what has a good hand feel. People with arthritis prefer wood because it is warm. This is the consensus I have seen online and heard from various sources. It also brings to mind a knitting daily show I saw recently (since Christmas) and how different materials react with yarns. Some materials will shorten the height of stitches. Some will widen the stitches but keep a proper height. Some will lengthen height but cause width to shrink. So depending on how perfect you want your stitches to be and what feels good in your hand, you have a huge choice of tool all available from local big box craft stores, thrift stores and from local sources.
My stash of tools has come from four main sources: local thrift stores (love this better than yard sales as I don't have to stop and get out for no reason every few blocks. plus I get to support a charity of my choice), big box craft stores (I have a JoAnn's, Michaels and Hobby Lobby in my town with an A.C, Moore within an hour from home), and from people at my church. Because I'm part of the crafty ministries there, I get the calls saying mom died and she had this stuff, do you want it? I always say yes. (you can see how the stash of tools and yarn grows with that kind of response.) And fourth? Ebay. I have been known to pick up a lot of needles or hooks to get a few sizes I don't have. This also means I get a bunch of sizes I already have. I don't do this often. You can see why.