Needle whore

My friends, you all know that I’m simply a needle whore. I consider choosing the right set of needles an integral part of swatching, and for that reason have such a massive collection of them, it’s nearly embarrassing.

Okay, it’s totally embarrassing ;). Especially considering I have at least 6 circulars currently tied up in this project. (my needlecases are homemade: here and here)

Yes, the fate of some of my projects has been decided by the choice of needles alone. I suspect, for example, that I wouldn’t be a sock knitter if I only had bamboo dpns at my disposal.

Considering that you all know this, and that you are a generous and attentive crowd, it’s no surprise that over the last week I’ve received no fewer than six individual e-mails letting me know about the new KnitPicks Options needle line. Thank you for e-mailing me, and, yes, I know ;).

But to be honest, I’m not dropping everything and getting all excited about this set, and I do not foresee purchasing it. Why? Simply, I’m very satisfied with what’s currently available out there in sizes US 4 and up. All my favorites come in US 4 and up! – Bryspuns, Bluti Stumpos*, INOX Express, INOX Aluminum… even the cheapo Boye and Susan Bates are tolerable in the bigger sizes.

For me, the small needles are the issue, especially when it comes to working lace. I need needles in US 00-2 which are like Addis, but with pointier tips. The KnitPicks Options isn’t going to help me there. However, I am optimistic about the new KnitPicks Classic Circular Needles, and placed an order for US 0, 1, and 2. While I was at it, I also got some of the dpns. My order won’t arrive for a little while, but I’ll let you know what I think once it gets here.

While we’re at it, let me tell you about HiyaHiya needles. A few months ago these were mentioned on the KBTH list, and (you guessed it!) I received six e-mails, even though I read about them in the e-mail digest myself**.

So, I ordered two needles: 2 mm (US 0) and 2.75 mm (US 2), from The Stainless Line, in a 24″ length. I received the needles, inspected them, and without much hesitation, put them away in the miscellaneous drawer.

My initial impression is unquestionably “blah,” although I’m having a hard time explaining exactly why this is so.

Actually, no: I know the main reason for the blahs. My friends, what is my number one concern when it comes to needles? The point, that’s right. The point of these HiyaHiya needles is identical to INOX Aluminum, which I’ve been using all along. So, when I received the needles and didn’t feel a prick-like point, I got the blahs instantly. I don’t hate them, I just fail to see what’s so special about them.

But to be fair, I like the long taper of the HiyaHiya (have always liked that aspect of the INOX Aluminum, too). I like what appears to be a smooth join. I like that HiyaHiya come in 1.5 mm (US 000), 2.5 mm (US 1.5), and 3.0 mm (US 2.5) sizes (INOX Aluminum don’t).

On the other hand, I don’t like the Boye-like stiff cords. I’m also not a fan of the long, straight needle portion (5 1/8″ for each end). Admittedly, 24″ Addis and INOX Express are also guilty of long straight needles. In contrast, the INOX Aluminums have a bend, which I like. No, I don’t know what the 20″ HiyaHiya are like, because I don’t think needles shorter than 24″ are practical for lace. Also, although the needles are silvery, they don’t strike me to be as smooth as Addis.

I guess compared to my current small-size favorite, INOX Aluminum, I don’t see a huge advantage: INOX has the needle bend which I find is easier on my hands, HiyaHiya has a smoother connection between needle and cord. Maybe if I decide to actually knit with them, I’ll be convinced otherwise.


Comparison of INOX Aluminum and HiyaHiya 2.0 mm circs. Left: don’t let the glare fool you – those HiyaHiya tips are identical to INOX. Right: notice that although the HiyaHiya joint is smoother, the cord is much stiffer. In that photo, I’m holding the needles in the lower left of the photgraph, and the cord makes that arch on its own.

* How the hell did Addi Turbos sneak onto my favorites list? Simple – I like Addis in US 4, 5, and 6 only, 20″ length only, non-lace work only. Otherwise, I hate the Stumpos!!!

** It’s not that I know everything, or even pretend to know everything… It’s just that when it comes to needles, my obsession is incredibly deep and rampant. I read all the lists, all the forums, never place an online order without first checking the shop’s needle offerings. As a result, I’ve yet to be told about a needle brand which I haven’t encountered before. In my posts about needles, I aim to inform rather than to solicit suggestions… or if I am soliciting, my requirements are very, very, very specific. I appreciate your understanding.

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52 thoughts on “Needle whore

  1. Cymru Llewes

    I have some brass rod that I got from a hobby shop in Tyngsborough that I had my husband file the ends for me. They are about a 0-5 and are 12″ long. I should find my spool of silk and try knitting with them. There is most definitely a prick factor.

  2. yahaira

    and I thought my needle obsession ran deep. trust me I scoured all of tnna for the sharpest needles and still can’t find them

  3. Angela

    How funny you wrote this post. Last week when I found out about knit picks circulars.. I emailed them instantly asking them why they didn’t make a 2.25mm circ especially if they did soooo much research on needles. I told them they’d be doing the knitting community a big favor if they made them in this size cuz I HATE using my inox cuz of the join. Still no response.

  4. Stephanie

    I looked at the Knit Picks needles and thought of you. πŸ™‚ I’m anxious to hear your thoughts. You’d think someone out there would come up w/ some pointy freakin’ needles!

  5. Karen

    Don’t appologize for your particularness. I have driven my husband to near tears by driving him nuts to take me to a yarn shop so that I can get a different set of something in a size I already have. He now understands how plastic, metal, and bamboo have different desirable (and undesireable) traits and that knitters can be fickle and go through certain “phases”. I’ve just started relating it to him in computer terms he’ll understand: pentium vs celeron, etc etc etc.

  6. Rhiannon

    I like the addi turbos in the small sizes for knitting socks, since sock yarn is not so flimsy as laceweight. But I HATE them for lace. If you find success with the knitpicks circs please report on it. I am looking for some really pointy circulars with nice flexible cords.

  7. Judy

    I like the idea that you could put an end piece on each end mid-garment, and take the tips for something else, thereby using the cord for a giant stitch holder. My problem is that I start things and then need the needles for something else, so this will make things simpler for me.

    I’ll be interested to see what you think about the smaller-gauge circs, though…I can always use more sock needles!

  8. Arleta

    I like pointy needles, too. I can’t say anything about Inox or HiyaHiya, since I haven’t used either, but I think the fun factor of saying HiyaHiya should count for something.

  9. desiknitter

    What kind of needles do you use for socks? I knit loosely and have to use size zeros, and I use the Takumi bamboos because those have a little give. The metal ones were too thin and sharp for me.

  10. Agnes

    I ordered the KnitPicks Classic Circular in US1 and 2 … haven’t used them yet, but the US1 point is really good … at least for me. The cord is soft … I think it may be even better than Addi. Right now, I just need to see if they are too slippery like Addi … if not, I would certainly use them for small needle lace.

  11. Carolyn

    I did order and receive the Knit Picks Options set. I am not a sock knitter so the fact that the needles start at size 4 didn’t bother me. I have been knitting with them for about 4 days now. I think they are awesome. They are very similar to Addis (which is my usual needle of choice). The difference is the tip is a bit sharper. I know this because I guess I use the tip of my finger to push the needle down and these needles prick my finger just a bit more than I am used to. The cable is terrific. It is not thick plastic like the bamboo circulars. It doesn’t kink at all and the yarn slides perfectly from the metal needle tip to the cable. I am very satisfied with my purchase, I only wish they had a 16″ cable available. P.S. love your blog.

  12. Karen B.

    Interesting discussion – and timely, too. I’ve had a few people write me about Holz & Stein lately.

    I think we’re all on the hunt for quality joins, flexible cable and lace-handling points. I see the KnitPicks needles as an option and will follow your reviews carefully.

  13. Sue F.

    On a somewhat-related topic, have you ever seen the DPNs that are a crochet hook on one end and a knitting needle on the other? I normally go for the circs whenever I can, but these actually make using DPNs fun. You “knit” with the crochet end (much easier to grab the yarn) and the knitting slides off the pointy end. It’s just like doing a crochet hook bind-off (except of course you are not binding off). I ordered mine from Lacis and they turned out to be made in Portugal, the coating is Inox-like.

  14. Sandra

    Stumpos = overrated. They’re nice but dood, 15 bucks for aluminum needle. Pshaw, I think not. Don’t get me wrong, I do own quite of few of those and they get the job done and all, but Boye and Susan Bates will always hold a special place in my heart. I am curious about those IONX needles you are so high on. Might give ’em a test try. Hmm. . .

    BTW, got your email. Can’t wait for those DPNS! HOORAY!. Thanks once again!!! πŸ™‚

  15. Dicentra

    Care to comment on the insanely expensive Colonial Rosewood circulars?

    Circulars that supposedly don’t coil. If the claim is true, I want some, but only with great references from knit-bloggers.

  16. Kate

    I am an addi addict, but I don’t knit lace like you do. I like the Inox too and I certainly like the price. In the end they are more expensive when my Basset Hound chew through the cable.

  17. Cynthia

    I can’t believe you have only been knitting for 2 years- and look at you, look at what it’s done to you ; ) You must have an old soul…and you are a little nutty about the needles, I dare say ; )

  18. anne

    i must have just happened to get to knitpicks really early and i stumbled on the new DPNs, so i bought some and they arrived last week. i love the tips and the slippery finish, but they are really heavy-feeling. i still prefer my inox DPNs above all

  19. anne

    oh yeah, and the points are really pointy. really. sharp. and. pointy.

    that will be fine for the circs since i will use those in lace knitting, but why do those classic circs only go up to size 3? i hate needle sets . . .

  20. nikki

    I’m excited about the KnitPicks needles, too. I ordered a 32″ size 1. I would have ordered the size 0 and 2 but I only had enough $ in Paypal for one needle. Hows that for scraping the bottom of the barrel? LOL. On a similar note, I’m not sure how I feel about the Knitpicks-bypassing-the-LYS-and-selling-at-wholesale-prices-to-the-public thing. Although I love a great deal, its also kinda bunk. Maybe Addi will notice and offer a pointier tipped needle. I’d rather buy pointy Addi’s from my local yarn shop. But again, here I am forking over my $4.99 for KnitPicks. Heh.

  21. Emily

    I live in Belgium and the standard sizes here are 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, etc. The Inox Circs do come in those sizes, I even have to order the special sizes (the 2.25 and 2.75mm) online to get them. So if you would like Inox in those sizes, give me a yell, I don’t mind sending them to you (they are at the same price as in the US by the way, which is cheap :D).

    Oh, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to order the KnitPics Circs. πŸ˜€


  22. jess

    The KP needles (dpns, circs, and interchangables) are pointier than the INOX grey (which are my favorite pointy needles).

    I posted a picture of the KP tips in a US5 vs. Addi turbos, susan bates silvalume, inox grey, and clover bamboo here, if you’re curious (I haven’t seen this many needle tips compared anywhere else yet). MUCH pointier. This excites me for lace. πŸ™‚

  23. che

    I love you not only because you are a knitting inspiration and are a linguist, but because you my dear have more knitting needles then me!

  24. Julia

    If you have any guilt about your needle collection, I’d be happy to assuage it by showing you mine. I like a lot of variety – different needles work better in different situations. As a result, I’ve had to resort to an excel spreadsheet to keep track of them all!

  25. Kimberly

    LOL. And here I was thinking I need to start giving some of my needles away because I had so many!! Mine collection is nowhere NEAR yours. Thanks for bringing a bright smile during this drab and dreary grey day. When will this rain END??


  26. freecia

    Did your Japanese Lace project tell you about the Japanese needle options? Clover makes metal needles for Japan domestic sale, it seems… And of course, in Japanese sizes. They’ve got the bend, they may be pointy (I can’t tell from the small 40cm length photos). They could be re-branded inox alu’s but they look nickel plated.

    I know you’re not soliciting but my passion for needles insisted that I mention them. Just in Case. Needle fanatics gotta stick together. BTW, the photo of your needle collection (especially the double points) made me sigh in appreciation.

  27. gretchen

    ok – I was JUST THINKING that we are long overdue for a Flash Your Needle Collection event. Now I’m convinced (and sweaty with jealousy). I have the KP DPNs and am knitting socks at the moment. they are very pointy.

  28. SallyT

    I just completed my dpn case ala Grumperina. I organized my straights and dpns, frogged a bunch of stuff and reorganized my carryalong knitting. I feel much better now. Thanks for the inspiration.

  29. Lily

    I don’t know anything about the knitpicks needles, but on a much smaller level, I can definitely sympathize with the needle stash issues- my boyfriend kind of shudders every time he chances upon mine. He’s convinced I can use one pair of needles for every project, and thinks that I just invented gauge issues as an excuse to buy more knitting related stuff πŸ˜›

  30. Jeanne

    You know, when I visited the boys at Threadbear a couple of years ago, I referred to myself as a yarn whore. They were quick to correct me. They said that the yarn was the whore, they were the pimps and I was the john. So, you are, in certain knitting circles, a needle john…

  31. Wen

    That’s all the needles you have? Don’t feel bad lady- I’ve got a ton if you need to borrow some.

    I do like addi’s for sock knitting magic loop (currently knitting a pair of very big [size 12!]Jaywalkers for my BF in a cashmere/silk blend) INOX for lace, and just about every size in Lantern Moon/Clover/Crystal Palce for straights. Sadly, I hardly ever use straights anymore.

    Think of all the yarn I could have bought with the money spent on those Lantern Moons…

  32. Kim

    I figured that you wouldn’t be into the enterchangeable set they’re offering.. but I knew that you’d atleast try the classic ones.. I’m mostly excited that they seem to be “just like addis but pointer” but also much much cheaper.. I can’t justify spending 20 dollars on one set of needles.. but if these KP ones are really just as good or better their prices just can’t be beaten with a stick.

  33. Moby Knit

    I usually sharpen the Clover bamboo needles with increasingly fine sandpaper–not achieving surgical quality standard, though. This worked for knitting KSH which I couldn’t manage on metal needles. Possibly a local machine shop/precision metal shop would be willing to sharpen those stumpos for you? Just a thought.

  34. Claire Warren

    I ordered and got my Knit picks needles and am currently knitting the beginers lace, “branching out” scarf on them. Ouch my fingers do kinda hurt from the pointy needles and the k3tog goes very smooth. I hope you enjoy your needles. They also have a great, pretty purple cord that is much less sticky than a denise. And yes I too am a needle whore, actually more of an knitty related crap whore. From bags to tape measures.

  35. AuntyNin

    No such thing as too many needles. After all, you wouldn’t go around telling Michelangelo he had too many paintbrushes, right?

  36. Marlene

    My needle collection is pittiful at the moment. I have HUGE gaps in the sizes I own, much less several to a size (although I do have 4 sets of 7s) My DPN collection is worse, and don’t get me started on circs. I have 4 sets of circular needles.

    I’m working on it. πŸ™‚

  37. Erica

    Have never looked for 1.5 Inox, but have many 2.5 and 3.0s. In fact, I have to order the 2.25 and 2.75 from the US, because I can’t find a LYS that will carry them. Honestly, your collection isn’t that bad πŸ˜‰

  38. Nicole

    I love that picture of your needle collection. It’s quite impressive! I couldn’t tell if you have any that are made from casein… have you ever tried those before? What do you think?

  39. Lisa Ward

    Wow! That’s impressive, and I thought I had a lot of needles. Love to see how organized you are.

  40. Cynthia

    I love needles! I have so many that I keep each separate size in a clear plastic, zippered pencil case. I used a labelmaker to label the sizes–and then I keep all of those pencil cases together in a tote bag. (Yes, I have a lot of needles.) About 90% of mine are Addi Naturas. They’re bamboo and have a great tip.

  41. Mary

    Okay, then you are just the perfect guru to ask my latest burning question:

    What, in your opinion, are the best DPNs in the smaller sizes (US 2, 1, 0, 00, 000)? I’m thinking that aluminum (metal) is the way to go, (since I hear it’s easy to snap the bamboo toothpicks), and I’d really like it if the manufacturer had different colors in the different sizes, to help my feeble brain differentiate between them quickly….

    By the way — love your handmade needle rolls.

  42. Lucia

    For heaven’s sake keep us updated on your research. I have been extremely slow starting my Trekking socks because I determined that I needed a size 0 needle to get a fabric I liked. (I tend to knit small and tight, except for lace, of course.) Being a big fan of bamboo circs, I sprang for a Skacel bamboo size 0, two, actually. Very nice needles except for the join — big and bulky and very hard to slide the stitches over. (See tight above.) So I broke down and bought an Addi, despite having already had the not-pointy-enough experience with a size 2. The point on the 0 is a bit sharper, but still not as sharp as I’d like. Purling 3 tog tbl = quite a challenge. I’m persevering, though, due to my limited options. (I’m not too crazy about metal, either, but I can live with it.)

    All of which is a very long-winded way of saying: I feel your pain. I’ll be watching for your review of KP Classic Circs.

  43. al

    ha! blunti stumpos. i love their clickiness. unless i’m using a yarn that would react badly with their slidiness, addis are my first choice. i did, however, have to do a k3tog on an addi US3 the other day and realized it might behoove me to have a larger and more varied collection.

    i drool at the sight of yours, by the way!


  44. Anniee

    I LOVE INOX!!!

    I have so many Inox that it’s insane – circs, speedy silver ones, plain-jane grey ones, long, long dps (12-14″) and, of course, my all time favorite 14″ straights. I know I’m an anomoly, but I love my straights.

    And I love my Inox.

    I’ve tried Addis, they don’t do a lot for me. And I’m frugal.

    I’m also ALWAYS on the hunt for good needles, and wherever I go I try to buy something at a yarn shop (usually needles or a crochet hook) so I greatly appreciate your needle assessment!

  45. magda

    Up until now, i have been happy to hunt up old, used, well loved knitting needles from thr local thrift, nearly new shops and stick them into an huge flower vase. It has pleased me to just look at them and imagine old, knarled hands knitting miles of whatever. Now,I am obsessed with finding 36 inch,Colonial rosewood circular needles in size 10.5. I have been on line since 4 am looking. AM I nuts? $40 versus 50 cents!

    Yes I now know they don’t make’em in that length.

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