Friday, January 8, 2016

Knitting Needle Thoughts

**updated again, late Feb 2015**

Some folks are really into knitting needles and spend a lot of time thinking about them and choosing just the right ones. Me, I'm not picky, and as long as they don't break, I'm usually OK with whatever is cheap. I certainly don't go out of my way to test different ones.

That said, I've been knitting long enough now that I've discovered some personal preferences for sock needles. Here they are:

I actually like wooden needles, especially for smaller diameters. I discovered this by simply trying some on a lark. Apart from the nice look, wood is grippier than metal. Since I'm a (very) loose knitter I find this a nice feature, especially for small-diameter needles. Wooden needles tend to be flexier than metal, as well. But!! They break fairly easily, especially the smaller diameter ones. I've snapped them by mistake, by simply breaking my yarn with the needle in my hand at the same time. DUH!

If I were a DPN user I'd switch to wood for sock knitting; there are "sock sets" available from several manufacturers. It's hard to find fixed circular needles in small diameters; by small I mean less than 2mm. By hard, I mean there is not much choice; only a few manufacturers appear to make needles this small.

Interchangeable sets start at 3mm and larger, so I don't use them for socks.

Here are some brands I've tried:

1. KnitPicks needles are not very good quality, although the price point is very good and the cables themselves nice and flexible.  I've had several cables pop out of the needle during a project. You can crazy-glue the cable back in, but on all occasions I've been left with a little ridge in the cable because I've not been able to shove the plastic all the way back in. This leaves you with a join that catches your knitting. Ugh. KnitPicks is very good with customer service though, so you can typically get a replacement set free of charge, no questions asked. I've not had issues with their (larger diameter) interchangeables, just with their fixed circs. Most of my needles are KnitPicks and I use them a lot. They have wooden ones that I really like - nice and flexy, but smooth. I like the colours...

2. HiyaHiya needles are the only brand I've been able to find with circs that come in diameters smaller than 2mm. I fairly regularly knit socks on 1.75's or even 1.5's. I really should work on increasing my tension...These needles are OK, the cables are a bit stiff but I can live with 'em. All metal needles, of course. I find they bend after a few uses, which is kind of annoying but unavoidable with such small needles, I think. I've never had issues with cables popping out, shearing, or catching at the join.

3. I got a pair of Addi Sock Rockets for Christmas last year, and these are very nice needles. Very similar feel to KnitPicks in terms of cable flex and tip, but they are much better quality. They're more than 2x the price though. Something to put on your wish list! **newly discovered** Sock Rockets come in 1.5mm and 1.75mm as well.

4. I recently tried some ChiaoGoo 2.25mm fixed circs of bamboo. What's nice about these is that the needle size is etched on them. I love the wood, as per above, and the join is better quality than KnitPicks, but the cable....ugh.  It is very stiff (has a steel cord inside) and this is causing severe laddering when I use them for magic loop knitting. I haven't opened the 2mm set I got, and I think I'll return them. I've never sheared a cable in my life - even when knitting a sweater in the round - so I think the steel cord is overkill, certainly for socks!

5. I just purchased a Karbonz (OK, I really, really hate that name. Faux-wrong-spelling for marketing purposes drives me nuts) fixed circular (2.75mm) to try. Again, the needle size is etched on the thing, which is nice. The cable is beautifully flexible and the join is smooth. However, the needles, although made of wood, do not flex at all. They are smooth and warm to the touch, but part of why I like wood is the flex. The needles have metal tips, and there is a tiny, tiny gap between the tip and the wooden body, so that when I knit I get a tiny "clunk" as every stitch glides over that gap. This is a little annoying. These won't be my favourites.

6. I still own a few Inox fixed circulars in 2.75mm and larger, but I hardly use them. The cables are simply too stiff to be of any use for magic loop and in my opinion these are useless for sock knitting. 


  1. Thanks for this review. I have been considering a set of interchangeable circulars for a while now and it's great to find a review on brands and possible problems.

  2. I'm very definitely an Addi girl; I much prefer the weight of metal needles to wooden ones. Here in the UK we have KnitPro which I think are the same as Knit Picks and I have one small circular for my socks but my Knit Pro interchangeables for other projects are all metal-tipped. The world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same thing - and isn't it a good thing that we have so much choice? :-) xx

  3. I swear by Addi needles. They took a bit to get used to, but even the slipperiest and splitty yarns work well for me with them now.

    Just found your site today and am in complete awe. TechKnitter is awesome, and so are you. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

    With sincere appreciation,
    MJ, the SKEINdinavian

    1. Thanks (blush)...I can't believe my name is being uttered in the same sentence as TechKnitter...

  4. It's really too bad about HiyaHiya. They actually used to advertise how thin and flexible their cables were when they were first introducing their sets. Then they changed the cables. I have carefully hoarded all my HiyaHiyas with the thin cables!