Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I should probably demand a commission

This week, I got a Ravelry message from Ash, who is a member of our Ravelry group (that's Woodcraft Knitters, which was technically started up by Wood, but which I have highjacked and of which I have anointed myself High Chancellor).  It got me wondering: did I ever end up telling you what I think of my new-ish KnitPicks interchangeable needle set (the ones in these photos)?

Well, in case I haven't, here's what I think of them:

I love them.

The end.


What?  Oh, you wanted more feedback?  OK FINE.

Seriously, they're fantastic.  This is why I think so:

  1. You can not - and will not - beat the price.
  2. I am a very loose knitter and I ordered the nickel-plated set (the interchangeables and a slew of the skinnier ones - which can't be manufactured as interchangeables because they're too skinny for the mechanism - in 40" lengths, for magic loop knitting).  The nickel-plated is super slippery and excellent for fast knitting.  My Lace Addi needle got all tarnishy and ugly after the first project (not that their look affects their performance, but you know what I mean), but my KnitPicks needles are still 100% perfectly beautiful after several projects.
  3. The tips are sharp (thank you, folks at KnitPicks - you angels, you)
  4. The joins are as good as it gets.  The looser the knitting, the more invisible they seem.  Perfect.
  5. The cables are so bendy and forgiving, it's kind of freaky.  Seriously, they are even more forgiving than Addi's and that is saying a LOT.
  6. The tips are feather-weight.  Awesome.  Just awesome.
  7. I now have a pretty complete set of circulars on hand.  I had no idea how liberating that feeling would be until I bought these.  I have a complete set of straights and a mostly-complete set of DPN's, but I think circs are more versatile and wow, it makes a big difference having them all within reach.
  8. They fit in a tidy little case (though the case is stiff and awkward and could probably benefit from being made of a different material...except that it is really nice to be able to see through the plastic...oh well, you can't have everything, I guess).
  9. The options for the tips.  I mean, how great would it be to have all three types - metal, acrylic and wood?  You could experiment with each one when you're trying out a new yarn.  Different yarns benefit from being knit on different needles, did you know that?  I didn't.  But apparently, it's true.  You can get better results if you play around with your needle types.
  10. You can buy a little coupling separately that allows you to join cables together and make one super long cable.  Afghan knitting, anyone?
  11. Have you ever heard of lifelines, in knitting?  Well, they work like this: when you're knitting something that is a little involved, like a lace shawl or a cabled sweater, there is a possibility that you might make a mistake at some point (what?? me, make a mistake???  NEVER!) and you'll have to rip some knitting back.  The thought of having to rip back lace is enough to give a person a migraine (I don't recommend it to anyone), so this is what you do: at the end of a round of particularly complex knitting, you will thread a yarn needle with some scrap yarn and feed it through your loops, thus securing them and providing you with a safe harbour in the storm.  Well, with the KnitPicks interchangeables, it's even easier to do than that.  The tips are tightened onto the cables using a little pin.  You twist the tip onto the cable, insert the pin into a small hole near the needle's socket, and you use the pin as leverage to really torque the needle and cable together.  Here's the secret: that little pin hole is the PERFECT size for dental floss.  You thread the dental floss into the hole, tie a little knot to keep it there, knit your next row just like you normally would (with your regular yarn - the floss is just going along for the ride), but when you're done, you snip the knot in the dental floss and leave it in your work.  BAM: instant lifeline.  Plus, it's minty fresh.  And lifelines need not be limited to complex work.  They're good for keeping travel knitting safe from tangles.  Or just preventing your toddler from setting you back hours and hours and hours in your work by gleefully making away with your needle from your project, which was sitting peacefully on the sofa before you turned your back a moment ago.
  12. They also have these little tags that you can buy separately that are GENIUS!  Why, you ask?  Well, imagine this totally probable scenario: you start a project like...I don't know...a sweater.  Yeah, you're starting a sweater.  You're knitting up the body when you realize that you were supposed to start on the sleeves first, for whatever reason.  No biggie.  You unscrew the needle tips from the cable and use the little purple caps that came with your kit to secure the knitting onto the cable.  It will now act as a stitch holder (goodbye scrap yarn method!) and will keep the body safe until you're ready to graft the arms on.  Except WAIT.  What happens if you start the sleeve and then decide that you have to knit an emergency scarf with that size of needle (what? scarf emergencies happen, yo) and so you abandon the sleeve idea and all of the sudden, you come back to them later and you have no idea what size needles you were using for the sweater (because, though I've told you to, you haven't started a knitting journal yet and you're working blind).  SO WHAT THEN?  You're up the creek without a paddle, my friend.  Unless...

What if you slipped one of these little puppies onto the cable before you capped it at each end when you stopped knitting the sweater body?  A built-in method of documenting your needle sizes for on-going projects.

See?  Genius, I tell you.  Simply genius.

So, do I think you should invest in a set of these?  Yes, I do.  I DESPISED circular needles for years and I knit almost exclusively on these, now.  My knitting-in-the-round has improved tenfold (no more ladders and unevenness).  Magic loop is my answer to everything.  Two-at-a-time socks are my new modus operandi.  Heck, two-at-a-time sleeves are next.

What I would suggest is this: KnitPicks make a set of interchangeables that include a pair of each type of tips (wood, metal and acrylic - I inserted a photo of this set at the top of this post) so you can try them out.  I would give that a shot.  The Holidays are coming - put them on your list.  I really don't think you'll regret it.

Oh, and one more thing: if you haven't been listening to Kelly Petkun's podcasts, you really ought to remedy that.  Holy cow, have I learned a lot from this woman.  Excellent commuting soundtrack (I even listen to them while I'm doing housework and baking).  Just remember to keep a little notebook handy (or maybe your NEW KNITTING JOURNAL, HINT HINT) so that you can take notes.  'Cause I guarantee that you'll want to.


  1. I have the same set of needles and I too adore them. I would even go as far as to say that I luurrrve them, even though I'm not a big fan of that phrase. :)

    I just decided that I really need to come hang out with you and knit. A lot. And watch you knit. Because I feel like my skills have hit a plateau. And I'm not convinced just sitting here and knitting by myself is going to make me any better. Anyway, just sayin'. I just decided.

  2. I adore Knit Picks. I use their needles 99% of the time and when I have to use the crappy metal ones that came with my Learn to Knit Kit, it makes me sad. I prefer the wood ones - they give me a little grip and are pretty to boot. I do not knit exclusively with their yarn but I have never, ever been disappointed in it. If you want the softest dishcloths ever, use their organic cotton.

    That was a lot of free advertising for Knit Picks but yeah, they are awesome.

  3. I might just have to give these a try.

    It is fun to read your writing. Excellent job.

  4. Thanks for posting so many more reasons here! I'm so happy with the needles and don't know if I would have made the jump without you!

  5. I have just finished my first pair of socks using the magic loop technique.
    It made two at a time socks hassle free - or the same mistakes- thus a perfect pair. I am so tired of pushing the yarn off the cable onto the needle of these cheep circulars. What would you suggest as a combination to buy from Knit Picks? I mostly knit socks, mittens and small items sometimes with one or two projects at a time.

  6. Hi everyone! Thanks for your lovely comments. I just wanted to reply to Anonymous who asked about which needles to get for 2-at-a-time knitting.

    My suggestion would be to try the nickel-plated 40" circs in the sizes you need for socks and mittens. For example, I use 2.00mm for socks with sport weight yarn, because I am such a loose knitter. However, that is a bit crazy and you may not need to go that small. They're pretty cost effective, so 2 or 3 circs shouldn't break the bank.

    If you're a new knitter, you might want to stick with the wooden or acrylic ones, though I will pass along a word of caution from some folks on Ravelry: the tiny wooden ones snap really easily.