Needle science

You know the best part about the experiments I’m currently doing? Work, work, work, add, mix, wash, then do absolutely nothing for 3 hours while things percolate in the ol’ Petri dish ;). And that’s just the perfect amount of time to hop on the 66 bus and head to A Good Yarn to scope out their needle selection (hi, Dani, hi, Johanna!).

My friends, thank you for your feedback to my last entry. I think we must establish something here and now – “pointy” is different things to different people. When I say I want a pointy needles for lace, I mean skin-piercing pointy. I don’t use my fingertips to push against the tips, so I can really tolerate something as pointy as a sewing needle. I’m making an extreme example, but I hope you get the idea.

Several of you commented that the points of Inox circs are highly variable, and a quick glance through my own needle stash revealed that this is indeed the case.

Exhibit A: two 2.25 mm (US 1) circulars, and their four points. Can you see the difference? The two on the left are much more sharp than the two on the right.

Considering this evidence, the purpose of my trip to AGY was to go through their entire stock of 2.75 mm (US 2) circs and see if I can find a pair which is more pointy than the one I’m currently using. What I found is that while US 0 and US 1 Inox Aluminum are pointy enough for me, no US 2 was sufficiently pointy. Some were more pointy than my current set, true, but still not perfect.

Exhibit B: two 2.75 mm (US 2) circulars, and their four points. The two on the left are my old set, and the two on the right are a new, pointier version. Still not perfect, though.

On the way back from AGY, I stopped by Woolcott, since I was quite impressed with their needle selection the last time I was there. Good thing I did – I found something quite interesting: Inox Express needles (in contrast to the gray ones, which are Inox Aluminum) in a 2.75 mm size. Now, I love Inox Express and use them often in larger sizes. In fact, I consider them the better, pointier Addi (cheaper, too). However, I always get tripped up with their sizing and it wasn’t until the 2.75 mm Inox Express was staring me in the face that its existence actually registered. And, its points are nice!

Exhibit C: Inox Express next to Inox Aluminum, both are 2.75 mm in diameter.

I’ve now transferred all the stitches to this needle, and I have to tell you, I don’t love it. The points are fine… more than fine. I give them 8 out of 10 on my own little scale. What is bugging me is the length of the actual needle (too long) and the fact that it doesn’t taper. Also, believe it or not, I’m finding it more grabby than the Inox Aluminum! I think the two go hand in hand – if the ends were tapered, the stitches would be easier to move along and I wouldn’t think it was as grabby.

Exhibit C’: Inox Express next to Inox Aluminum, both are 2.75 mm in diameter.

Also, in a moment of panic and weakness I grabbed 2.75 mm Crystal Palace circs. Those suckers were packaged nice and tight in their little sleeve, so it wasn’t until I got home that I was able to take them out and feel the goods.

Exhibit D: What was I thinking?!? These will not work for me. No way, no how. I knew this! Why did I panic like that and buy them?!? They won’t work not because they aren’t sharp enough (these can be sand-papered to whatever sharpness one desires), but because they will resist letting go of the stitches. I’m taking them back tomorrow, first thing in the morning.

So, it looks like I’m sticking with exhibit C for now. I cross my fingers that I’ll get used to them and everything will work out just fine. I’m so picky, I know.


38 thoughts on “Needle science

  1. Eva

    LOL… All I can get here are the grey inox’s so I make do 🙂 I have noticed that sometimes even on 1 circ the 2 points can be different.

    What you call Inox Express looks exactely like all the Susan Bates I have bought in the US… gold needles with a black cable.

    Maybe you should think about developing your own brand of needles 🙂 Grumperina’s Pointy Stix or something like that 🙂

    Cheers Eva

  2. LaurieM

    Having advocated for a retry of the bamboo needles I feel a little bad. But I’m also wondering, are you a tight knitter?

  3. Janet

    I appreciate you doing all of this legwork. I just finished a small shawl in fingering yarn and am itching to go smaller (laceweight) so I know I will need pointier needles. I’m surprised that you’ll be able to return those needles. My LYS has a no return policy on needles.

  4. YarnThrower

    I’ve read in a couple of places that straight needles work well for knitting lace, especially because there is no concern about moving the stitches (especially the yarn-overs) past the needle joints. I wonder if there might be a different selection of points in the straight-needle-world? (…aside from the difficulties this might bring to knitting while seated in an arm-chair). Also, I recall that Eunny discussed this issue in one of her post a month or two ago, though I can’t remember what her resolution was.

  5. diana

    That attention to detial is what makes you an excellent scientist! I’m glad you were able to find something that might work. Fingers crossed!

  6. Jenn

    What about Boyle? I’ve heard they’re pointy. And Holz and Stein are supposed to be pretty pointy, but they’re wood (rosewood?), so they might be too grabby for you. Good luck!

  7. Beth

    I’m not the person someone mentioned yesterday, but I did have my dh sharpen a pair of addi’s. I’ve used them for about 5 years with no problem. I just don’t like the high shine in some lighting. The Holz and Stein needles I have are pointy but I find the join a pain with lace or cobweb weight yarn. The yarn sinks in and grabs. But that might just be my particular needles. My favorite needles for lace are the old Circulon needles, great points and solid plastic from tip to tip so no joins. I’ve been lucky in thrift stores and have also seen them on ebay.

  8. Lelah

    I’m having the same problem with Anna’s Nautilus socks now- so much so that I have developed a knitting callous! Silly me started them on Blunti Turbos, size 2.5mm — which is a HUGH problem. I can’t find a 2.5 Inox 40″ anywhere.

  9. Norma

    Picky, picky, picky! But if you weren’t picky, you’d have nothing to grump about, and then where would we be? Without a grumpy Grumperina. 😀

  10. michellenyc

    i really like the bamboo needles Sharpened to deadly points – they are a little more grippy – ubt if you want more slide you can always put a little wax paper aroung them and rub them with it – makes em nice and slickery!

  11. Mintyfresh

    Crystal Palace bamboo circs are instruments of the devil–the join is not smooth! And the grabbiness means no easy sliding of stitches up–all must be done piecemeal. Drove me nuts on my first attempt at lace. Good luck with the continued needle search!

  12. Debra

    while a good point is nice.. the smoothness of the join is a whole lot more important to me. An unsmooth join… and constant unhappy knitting.

    Those Inox express just look like they have a dreadful join (like the Susan Bates I’ve used. (spit! spit! Ugly).

    I would suggest finding a join you like, and filing a better point.

  13. Susan

    An off-topic comment, but I just wanted to say Thanks and Rooooarr! for the links to the free dinosaur patterns. My three-year-old now has a jade cotton Mr. Stegs and a mustard yellow cotton “Tree-Tops” (aka Trice). She’d thank you, but she’s too busy beating them into submission.

  14. Carolyn

    I, too, search fruitlessly for the perfect pointy needle. When I’m working on my dpn’s, I find that I look at the end before I start knitting a needle so that I have the pointy-est end in my hand. Silly? I don’t think so – they really do vary and make a difference in knitting lace. I totally understand your search – if I were there I’d be searching right along with you!

  15. Laura

    You have to be the few people (beside me) who actually wants to knit lace with metal needles. I love metal needles. Everyone tells me that I’m a fool to knit a lace shawl with Addis or any sort of metal needle. But I only have Addis and a Needlemaster set. (yes the points are too blunt, but they are functional enough for me.)

  16. Suzann

    I remember when INOX Express came in sizes from 2.00mm, 2.25, 2.50. Those were discontinued last year I think. Just around the time I started knitting socks.

    You might try Aero. I know a lot of people say they are the same as INOX but they are not. The needle bends in a different place and there is a sort of plastic overlay on the join between the needle and cord. The cord is the same crappy fishing line stuff and they are grey. The points are a bit sharper. I have the holes in my finger to prove it. In fact I have to use those quilters stick on pads on both my index fingers to keep the blood off the yarn. But I don’t have Aero in 2.75. I think the largest Aero I have is 2.50. I got mine when Ram Wools was getting rid of them. Any Canadian site would carry Aero.

    Good luck with the search


  17. Marie Richardson

    How do you like the Lacey Lamb yarn? I saw some at a LYS a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t believe how soft it was. I almost bought some but I’ve never worked with anything that fine, so I held off, but I can’t stop thinking about it! Plus the colors are so saturated – the red is just calling to me. I’d love to hear what the pros and cons are so far for you with this yarn…

  18. Mardel

    What’s wrong with being picky? Although I have my basic general needle preferences of Addi or Inox, depending on fiber and type of project, I have all kinds of needles for all kinds of projects. Something comes along, either a fiber or a pattern, that just doesn’t work with my standards and I end up getting some other kind of needle to make it work.

  19. Beebs

    Delurking a bit …. Just went back to Eunny’s post (of 3/2/06) re: lace-knitting needles: She seems to prefer the Inox Grey over CP bamboo or Addi Turbos….

  20. Sara

    Someone on a list I’m on just posted a tip she got from *another* list (I don’t know which one, she just said “a lace list”) about steel circs from JKLNeedles. She was told they have “perfect points” — which is obviously going to vary a lot from one person to the next, but at least these might be another thing to investigate.

    Link is: .

  21. Edna Hart

    HOLD EVERYTHING—please try BRYSPUN NEEDLES they are slightley flexable, the cord is thicker, they are warm to the touch and if you try the you will be a convert. Edna

  22. Liz (the crazed weasel)

    Pheh. We hates the inox circs, we hates them deeply. I have far too many stupidly dull, horrible cabled needles still buried all over the house. Yuck. Sad to say, the best points I have are on vintage dpns bought in silly large lots on ebay. Indeterminate brand. Just nameless, heroic metal needles, some quite nicely pointy.

  23. Christie

    Needles, needles, needles. There are so many choices. I do also prefer a pointer, tapered tip, so I appreciate all your work research in this. I’m surprised that you LYS will let you return needles…they won’t do that here.

  24. Kathy

    My LYS lets you exchange needles but the local 5 & dime does not. And their sign is at least a foot over my head….I no longer shop at the 5 and dime, by the way! But needles are definitely an individual preference, wood, metal, plastic, pointy, dull, straight, circular, sticky, smooth….Each project needs it’s particular needle. I’ve recently tried the Bryson’s and love them, most of my needles are Addi Turbos and Clover bamboos (because that’s what my LYS carries) – I would love a complete set of a few brands….Santa are you listening?

  25. Karla (threadbndr)

    I’m starting the Folk Shawl’s “Basic Black” shawl. It’s a center out square; I started on Inox grey US7s – too ‘grabby’ by far, at least for the shetland fingering/jumper weight that I’m using. I fought getting the work from one end of the dpn to the other on every round, every needle. Though I did apprciate that quality in the “16 stitchs = wrestling with a hedgehog” stage. Good points for this weight of yarn, though.

    When I got to the stage where my smallest (16inch) circ came into play, I switched to the Inox shiney version. I agree with Gumperina in the main post. Good points, good join (at least with this weight of wool) but NOT SO GOOD on the taper. Even with a heavier yarn by far, the stitches hang up coming onto the needle. Once they are up there, all is well.

    But this shawl has a TON of stocking stitch (what WAS I thinking???) and not having the stitches glide onto the needle is really slowing me down.

  26. Christina

    At my uni, we have a woodworking shop that has a metal tubing benders. Could you bend the join end of the Inox Express needles with a tubing bender (or two pair of round-nosed jewelry pliers) to match the Inox Aluminum?

  27. Kathy

    Enough about needles and pointiness, already. (I’m not a lace knitter, so this is one of the few issues on which I have no opinion.)

    What I want to know is, how do you take a picture of BOTH HANDS at the same time (see Exhibit C’, above)? I have this image of you with the camera tucked up under your chin and operating the shutter butter with your right foot.

    fwiw, although I have no preference re: pointiness of needles, I sympathize with your quest. When you know what you want and it makes sense to you, the only thing to do is get out there and find it. Good luck!

  28. Spinningfishwife

    You know what you need? Vintage UK Aero needles. Discontinued twenty years ago but still availible both new and used from charity shops and Ebay. Sharpest, pointiest, slippiest and most lethal needles on the planet. Good cords too.

  29. kim

    move up to a size 3 and get thee some bryspuns. I made Sharon Miller’s birch last year and tried every needle know to man before settling on these as the best lace needles of all.

  30. Jessie

    Don’t get too excited about the Inox Express – you get what you pay for. Since they moved their factory to Mexico a few years ago, their quality has really gone downhill. Invariably, the finish will flake off of the needles in big chunks, usually near the join. That’s why most yarn shops no longer carry them, they get too many returns from unhappy knitters.

  31. Kate

    I’d recommend Denise interchangeables as they are very pointy and slippery. Unfortunately they are only made in sizes 5-15 so no help there.

  32. v.j. kohout

    What??? Returning knitting needles? Not where I am getting mine.

    Actually I had a problem with being told about the “no needle return policy”. I bought circulars that didn’t work for me and was returning them in the original package with the sale receipt the next day. I bought them in a shop where I have shopped for YEARS.

    I was told that the reason for the policy is that I could have been scratching and poking myself with them and sticking them where they don’t belong. I didn’t but I could have. Point well taken. vj

  33. Kenny

    Yep, Crystal Palace circulars sucks ass. I blogged about them awhile back when I too decided to buy them for lace. But my damn LYS won’t take needles back. Shitty store.

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