Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: Knitter's Pride Karbonz, Cubics and Bamboo Knitting Needles

Recently the nice people at Stitchcraft Marketing gave me the opportunity to try out a few different kinds of Knitter's Pride knitting needles. I've been happy with my current interchangeable sets, but it's always fun to try something new. I also believe in the importance of working with the best tools available--and you can't find the best tools if you don't try new ones occasionally!

Knitter's Pride has a wide variety of needle-types--straight, double-pointed, circular and interchangeable, in several different materials, so there's really something for everyone. I received a sampler set with 3 different interchangeable tips, as well as 2 different kinds of fixed circular needles. 

I first tore into the Karbonz fixed circular, and this one was definitely my favorite. They're made with carbon fiber, with nickel-plated tips. First--and a big plus for me--the size is printed right on the needle. This is true of all the needles I was given to try. I have eleventy needle gauges, but can never find one when I need it; having the size printed on the needle is much more convenient.

The carbon is lightweight and smooth--the stitches glide easily, even with superwash yarn, which I often find a little "sticky" on nickel-plated needles. The points are sharp, the cables are flexible (good for magic loop!) but sturdy, and the joins are smooth. The carbon truly does make for a much lighter needle, which can improve your knitting experience if you're working on a heavy project like a sweater--anything that reduces the weight is an improvement. You can find them in sizes 0-11, in 16 (only up to size 10), 24, 32 and 40" lengths.


I also got to try the interchangeable Karbonz tips--same needle, but as an interchangeable tip, available in sizes 2.5-11 and with 24, 32 and 40" cable options. The difficulty in evaluating interchangeable needles is that you really need to work with them a while to see how the joins hold up--do they loosen over time, get stuck, stop lining up correctly? It can take a few months for these kinds of issues to pop up, so I'll be reevaluating as I work with them, but assuming they do perform well, I'm considering purchasing a set. There are actually 3 different sets of the Karbonz interchangeable needles available: Starter, Midi and Deluxe. Deluxe, I'm sure you can guess, has all available sizes, while Starter and Midi have different subsets, so if you aren't ready to invest in the full set, you can buy a smaller set with the sizes you use most often. Since I'm a tight knitter, a 2.5 is often small enough for me to use for socks, so that's a great bonus for me: an interchangeable needle set that includes sock-sized tips. 

Next I tried the Nova Cubics. I was quite curious about these needles--they're square! The tips still taper to a rounded point, but the body of the needle is squared off.  According to the company, the "Unique ergonomic shape provides excellent grip and uniform stitch definition to the knit fabric." Sounds pretty good! They felt as natural to hold as regular needles, and my knitting did look nice and even. I don't--knock on wood--have any knitting-related wrist problems, but some knitters with wrist issues, arthritis, etc., who've used these needles found that they were able to knit for longer periods of time--fantastic!

I did find, however, that they made my knitting even tighter--whether because I was holding the needles differently or for some other reason related to the shape. As I am already a tight knitter, this isn't a result I'm looking for, but if you're a loose knitter, maybe they can help you tighten up! I plan to keep using them to see if that issue resolves itself as my hands get used to the unique shape. The Nova Cubics circular needles are available in sizes 1.5-11, in 16, 24, 32, 40 and 47" lengths. The interchangeable tips come in sizes 6-11, with 24, 32 and 40" cable options.

My last test drive was of the Bamboo interchangeable needle tips (shown here with Ollie's Christmas stocking on them!). I don't use wooden needles very often because, again, I think they tighten up my already tight knitting, but I do find them useful to have on hand for very slippery yarn. These are very lightweight, with a smooth finish, and even with the "sticky" Wool of the Andes yarn I'm currently using, the stitches are gliding over the needles quite easily. 

The Bamboo tips come in sizes 2.5-15, and fit with the same interchangeable cables as the other tips, available in 24, 32 and 40" lengths. I did not try the fixed circular needles, but they are available in sizes 0-15, in the usual 16 (up to size 11 only), 24, 32 and 40" lengths. 

Overall, I enjoyed working with these needles--I like that the sizes are labeled, I found the joins to be smooth and the cables flexible yet sturdy across the board, and the tips are sharp but not dangerous. All the needles come in a broad range of sizes with standard cable lengths, and the variety of materials and types of needles should meet most knitters' needs. 

The only con I found for these needles as a whole is that the cables are black--this can make the stitches hard to see if you're using dark yarn, knitting in dim light, and/or if your eyesight isn't what it used to be. It's not enough to dissuade me from using or buying them, but it's something I would change, given the chance.

The Karbonz get my vote for the best of the bunch, but I encourage you to get your hands on any of the Knitter's Pride needles and give them a test drive!

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