Monday 24 April 2017

Gear Talk: Knitting Needles

When it comes to interchangeable knitting needles, this is what I like:

  • Very sharp tips 
  • Short tips 
  • Flexible cables 
  • Smooth joins 
  • Very small sizes 
  • Stainless steel 
That combination means Chiaogoo to me, with Twist cables. 

I have used Addis, but I don't like the cable, and I find that fine yarns (which is almost exclusively what I work with) catch on the joins. That's annoying, and increases wear and tear on the yarn. I've never used the interchangeables, because they stop at 3.5mm and most of the needles I use are smaller than that. I actually have a whole bunch that I will be de-stashing soon. 

I just cannot get Hiya Hiya interchangeables to stay tight, so I'd never use them for lace, and that's pretty much everything I hand knit. I have 2 sizes and 2 cables, and rely on the husbear to tighten them up, but it's still not enough. I'm also not a fan of the swivel cable because I'm not sure what it's supposed to do for me. Once I finish my Apex cardigan, I'll be de-stashing these too. 

I am of the opinion that Knit Picks has poor quality control and makes cheap, but not decent, products. I started with these, and returned so many cables because they were so badly finished, you could see 'spurs' of plastic on the cables. The joins are not very good either. I do understand that many people start with them because they're cheap, but I would recommend spending more if you can. 

Pony and Aero are actually worse than Knit Picks. Since taking up knitting again as an adult, I am pretty sure that if those three were my only options for needles, I would have quit. Pony do actually make pretty decent tapestry needles though. 

Tulip are marginally better than Pony or Aero, especially if you would like bamboo needles. 

I'm going to briefly cover the things you want to think about when it comes to buying circular knitting needles. I haven't used straight needles as an adult, and don't intend to. 

Material: Wood, Bamboo, Stainless Steel, Plastic, Carbon Fibre

Material determines the stiffness and tensile strength of the needles. Knitting needles are actually better with a bit of give to them, and shouldn't be too stiff. It also factors into how smooth they are. 

Wood and bamboo are both light, and they warm up with use. But, they break easily. I broke at least 3 wooden needles before I switched. They are also more grippy, which is good if you're prone to dropping stitches or knit with slippery yarn. The Kinki Amibari bamboo are actually rather nice, just too grippy for me to knit with any speed. 

My preference for stainless steel is because it's possible to achieve a very pointy end, be polished to be super smooth and not break easily, even if they're hollow. 

I've never used carbon fibre, and think you should probably toss the plastic ones altogether. 

Double Pointed Needles: 

I use these for small circumference knitting in the round. I find that it's faster and less hassle than circulars, even though I'm perfectly comfortable in magic loop. 

Circular Needles: 

I primarily use circulars because I tend to knit very large pieces and also like to knit in the round. I find that circular allow you to rest the bulk of the weight of a piece on your lap, which strains my hands less. 

Interchangeables vs Fixed: 

I used to think I would need to do a lot of linelines, but the truth is I almost never do. So I'd suggest going for fixed needles instead because the joins are often smoother. 


Generally speaking, you want a soft, flexible cable. Some of them have swivel joins, meaning that they rotate in the join, but I am not actually sure why that's any good. 

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