Knitting tools are much like tools of other trades. We start off, the beginner, eager to learn, and just happy to use whatever there is to hand to create our projects. We don’t mind any needle, just as long as it gives us the ability to knit! We gasp at the expensive needles, and wonder why anyone would pay that much?
I started life in the hospitality trade, and as part of my learning to manage a hospitality business, we had cooking lessons. We were required to buy chef’s knives, and learned how to sharpen them properly and keep them in a knife bag so that they stayed sharp and kept you safe from the sharp blades. After using a proper chef’s knife though, all the other knives in my kitchen drawers at home were quickly made redundant…
We were also required to sharpen our knives every week, to ensure they stayed razor sharp. Why? Safety, actually. Contrary to popular belief, the sharper the knife is, the less likely you are to have an accident. The sharp knife cuts straight into your food, with very little likelihood of the blade slipping off the food and slicing into your fingers instead. I used to throw an orange into the air and slice through it with the knife (not around other people of course). If it cut the orange through the middle in the air, the knife was sharp enough. There was also the performance factor. Chefs must work fast, and it doesn’t do to be slowed down by a blunt knife that takes twice as long to cut food, and doesn’t cut it as precisely as a sharp knife. Presentation, after all, is also vital in a fine dining restaurant.
Now we come to the knitting part, and I’m sure there will be nods of recognition when I say that after discovering good quality knitting needles, the cheapies were very quickly discarded in favour of the high performance variety! What made them different? Precision, speed, comfort. The same things that make all tools of the trade expensive, valued and looked-after.
The tips of my cheap aluminium knitting needles frayed under use, and cut into my fingers. The better quality needles do not do that. Neither do they bend, and end up looking like curved needles, rather than straight ones!
But even among the needles known to be quality, we all have our preferences. Some like bamboo, or wood, others like steel. My own has definitely trended lately to carbon.
I am just a tad annoyed with myself that I had to find the $20 DPNs my choice of weapon. However, having been infected with “sockitis”, and needing needles that give comfort and speed (must knit all the socks), I find that the carbon needles have:
a) flex, and are therefore gentle on the wrists
b) nice, sharp tips that allow good capture of the stitch and they don’t get blunt (wood and bamboo, I’m looking at you)
c) strength, and are not prone to becoming misshapen (I’ve been bending the steel ones even…)
d) a good, light weight.
e) a nice surface that allows smooth yarn movement with all types of yarn.
The ones I’ve had access to are the Knit Pro Karbonz.
I will still use the other needles I have, the Knit Pro wooden needles especially. I do like their gentle click, and the flexibility of the wood. But when speed, a good, precise tip, and comfortable wrists are needed, I think I’ll be reaching for the Karbonz, every time.