May 22, 2013

Needle Needs

For a long time now, I've wanted to buy an interchangeable needle set.  I'm glad I've waited a bit, though, because it has taken awhile to discover my true needle needs.  When I first started knitting, I really liked wood and bamboo needles because they were "stickier" and I was paranoid about dropping stitches (and had a tendency to do so pretty often).  Nowadays, I'm less paranoid because I can fix dropped stitches easily, and it tends to happen less often.  Plus, I also knit fairly tightly, so now I appreciate slick metal needles to move things along with more ease.

Sounds pretty straight-forward, right?  There are a bunch of metal interchangeable needle sets to choose from, all with different specifications.  Luckily, I have discovered that I have other requirements for my needles, which will help narrow things down:
  1. The needles need to be fairly pointy, but not TOO pointy.
    •  I've been using a Kollage square needle lately, and am finding it TOO pointy.  Addi Lace-type pointy is good.
  2. The cable needs to be slick, flexible, and can't have too much memory.
    • The Kollage needle is nice and flexible, but not slick enough--my stitches get stuck on it during magic loop.  The Addi cable is slick, but no matter how many times I've done the hot-water-pull-straight trick, it always curls back up on itself and drives me insane.   KnitPicks' cable seems to be more in line of what I like.
  3. I would like a variety of sizes (at least down to a size 2 since I use that often, but also up to at least a size 8 or 9).
I've been keeping a spreadsheet of different sets to compare, and so far the top two contenders are the HiyaHiya Sharps, and the ChiaoGoo Twist.

HiyaHiya Sharps
ChiaoGoo Twist

I have pros and con's about each (some sillier than others):

Pros:  Pretty case (it comes in other flavors besides the ones in the pic above); the small set of needles has sizes US 2 through 8; the 4" set can make 16" needles for hats; these get rave reviews all over Ravelry.
Cons: Have to buy each set (small/large) separately [but could be cheaper if I find I really only use the smaller sizes and don't need the larger set]; I have no idea what the cables are like, though reports say its pretty flexible.

Pros: Nice case with lots of accessories; can purchase a complete set, or just the small/large separately; can buy different cables from the other set (nylon) if red cables are too stiff.
Cons: The red cable might be too stiff for magic loop (I have a fixed circular version to try); if I want to make 16" needles, I would need to buy smaller tips and cables separately.

When it comes down to it, cost might be the biggest thing for me.  For a more fair comparison, the small set of the HiyaHiya costs around $80 (US) and the ChiaoGoo $90 (but you get more accessories).  If I wanted to buy smaller tips/cables to do hats, the HiyaHiya cables run about $6.50, and the needle tips are $10.50; the ChiaoGoo cables are $4.50, and the tips range from $8 to $12.

That actually didn't help me at all, because if I do the math (the small set + US9 tips and US10tips + 2 cables) there's only a $2 difference.  I still can't decide. AHHHHHHHHHH!

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