Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Smooth Operator

Not too long ago, I needed to make a few swatches of worsted weight yarns. Size 8 US is my usual tool of choice for tasks like this. Although I'm not exactly suffering from a dearth of circular needles, I find the stitch consistency of the straights are key when gauge swatching. If you're dealing with wool or similar fiber, in my opinion aluminum straights seal the deal.

Easy-peasy, right? Unzip needle case, remove my trusty old (as in, had them since childhood) blue size 8s and begin casting on. Except I hit a snag. Literally. Next comes the purple invective and not a little anger as I recall my needle being pressed into service as a plumbing implement by my family. The tip of one of the needles had been scraped against a pipe as my brother tried to retrieve a fallen gasket. Grrr.

Fast-forward to last week's Knitter's Review article on Signature Needles: colorful, customizable aluminum beauties that promised a sleek finish and a lifetime warranty. Momma wants.

Signature Needles
These are size 8 US with the stiletto tip and a bell end cap. The needles are also available with either a middy or blunt tip, as well as two other styles of end caps.

I knit a sample with these babies this morning. Talk about your precision instruments. A little stockinette, a little garter plus a center panel of left and right decreases and yarnovers were no match for these smooth operators. Priced from $28 to $32, they're most definitely spendy, but if straights are your thing I'd say these are worth the investment.

And the next time someone wants to use my tools for unintended purposes, you'd better believe they'll get a resounding, "No Way!" from me.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

A First Time For Everything

Like most of us, I appreciate fine craftsmanship and design - especially of those things that are born out of a passion for creative excellence. Thanks to Anne, I am reminded once again that useful can also mean quite beautiful. Witness these circular needles (now available down to size 2 US), made to order by Jenkins Woodworking:

Jenkins Circular Needles
(Top, left: Pink Ivory, size 8 US. Bottom, right: Bloodwood, size 6 US)

They've only just arrived so I've yet to introduce them to yarn. There's a small matter of a pair of socks and a shawl to complete before these babies are pressed into service. Until I do, I am content to marvel at the perfect shaping of the business ends with their smooth joins and pliable cables; to feel the slender, exotic hardwoods of these, the first ever needles made just for me!

"May the work of your hands bring joy" - Ed and Wanda Jenkins

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

They're Here!

As soon as I saw the February 15, 2007 Knitters Review article on Skacel's Addi Turbo Lace needles, I pounced on the one store mentioned in the review expected to have them! Trouble is, so did dozens of other knitters eager to get their hands on the goods. I say "trouble" because I believe that while Yarn Lady understood the pent-up demand, Skacel might still have been a bit tentative.

I called the shop shortly after it opened and was told that at least 40 other people had already left messages. I was also told that the store would initially receive only 20 pairs of needles in each of the available sizes (2.5 - 4.0 mm / 1 - 6 US). This meant I would have to wait for the circulars I ordered. Not a bad thing when it turns out the wait was worth it.

addi lace needles sampleThere were a few things I noted as I knit this lace swatch. For one, the cable is a bit thinner and more pliable than the normal Addi circular. The cable joins are seamless and did not snag the fingering weight yarn. There is a bit of grab to the brass unlike their slick nickel siblings, making the lightweight stitches easier to manage and less prone to slipping off the needles.

Addi tip compareNow, the taper and the points? That's the deal-breaker, isn't it. I compared two size 4 US Addi circulars and the 3 millimeter difference in the taper length will definitely be more to the liking of lace knitters – a bit more wind-up before the pitch. And the tips? You'd be hard pressed to call these "stumpos" as the tip is rounded just enough to avoid puncture wounds, but just right for those "k3tog through the back loop" gymnastics.

I really like these needles, even though one of the two I ordered had a small defect on the tip. Since they're Addis, the shop will replace them without question. Although there may still be a few kinks in the early production run, I believe Addi Turbo Lace circulars should be on every sock and lace knitters wish list. I can't wait until they're more widely available.

(Edited to add) I bought sizes 4 and 6US in the 32" length. I'll probably custom order 20" lengths in smaller sizes at some point for sock duty.

(Edited again) Just found the needles available online at Angelika's.

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