It's time! SO many of you wrote me that you really wanted me to do a comparison post of my three interchangeable needle sets, and here it is!
First, I'd like to say that I bought each of these sets with my own money -- none of them were a gift from the companies that make them, and an experiences I have had with the companies as far as customer service, etc., was just the same experience they would give any other customer.
The three sets that I have to compare are the Knitter's Pride Symfonie Dreamz interchangeable set ($100 retail), the Knit Picks Caspian interchangeable set ($59.99 retail), and Hiya Hiya's original stainless steel interchangeable set ($79.90, now comes with a different color case.) Something important to note is that the original Knit Picks sets were made by Knitter's Pride, but are now made by a different company in China. Therefore, Hiya Hiya & Knit Picks sets are made in China, while Knitter's Pride sets are made in India.
Each of the three companies has taken a different approach to the method of storing and packaging their needles.
The Hiya Hiya case is fabric -- printed silk and black canvas, with a few zipper pockets for minimal storage of the needles. Each needle has a slot, with the smallest needle offered in my set being a US 2. This is one of the smallest available sizes for needles. The set that I have goes up to a US 8. The cords come in individual baggies, marked with the length. However, after having a set for the year, I find that I never use these baggies and never seem to know what the length of my cords are. Other, more organized individuals probably don't have this issue! The needle set did not originally come with the adjustment pads (for screwing in the cords tighter), but I was able to get them at a show from Hiya Hiya.
The Knit Picks case is malleable plastic. The set goes from size US 4 to size US 11. The front part of the case holds all of your needles in individual slots, whereas the back of the case has two snap-closure pockets that hold your cords & tools (keys, stoppers.) This set includes all of the individual pieces you need, plus a few replacements in case you lose the tightening keys.
The Knitter's Pride case is extra-fancy, because this is considered a deluxe product from Knitter's Pride. It is a faux-leather bound box that has a sort of brushed lining. The top tray holds all of the needles in individual elastic bands. Lift the top tray to discover a bottom compartment that holds all of your cords, tools, and accessories, plus a bonus gift and a rose-scented sachet. This set goes from size US 4 to US 11.
Of the three, I believe the Knitter's Pride case is my favorite, since I can store it in my studio. If I was looking for portability, I believe I would pick the Knit Picks' case, since the Hiya Hiya needles, which are super smooth, tend to slide out of their holders.
Of the three, the Knit Picks needles have the pointiest tips, as you can see from the photo above. The Knitter's Pride are in a close second and the Hiyas are third and most blunt. I like a variety of tips for a variety of projects, so this is great for me -- but if you prefer a certain type of tip, I'd consider the differences.
Again, this is a category based entirely on personal preference. I, for one, can't knit with a super-short tip, so I avoid them at all costs. The Knit Picks tips are the longest, followed by Knitter's Pride (very close in length), and the Hiya's are about 1/2" shorter.
The cords on any interchangeable set, for me, are one of the most important aspects. The cords for both the Knitter's Pride and Knit Picks sets have the same attachment -- the screw in portion is on the end of the cord, you screw it into place and tighten with a tiny wire key. The Hiya Hiya set has a swivel feature for the cord and the screw placement is on the needle tip. You screw into place and tighten with soft rubber pads. In all three sets, you must tighten extra -- if you just screw in, it will come undone.
The cord for the Hiya Hiya set is the lightest weight and most flexible of the three. However, since the cord is smaller, there are some issues at joins, especially when working with delicate yarns or the smaller needle sizes. I have not had any issues with joins on either the Knit Picks or Knitter's Pride sets, not even with fuzzy, heavily-haloed, lace-weight yarns.
Quality Control / Issues
It is almost impossible to have a high-use item without any issues. All three of these companies are wonderful about standing by their product and replacing parts as needed without charge.
Knit Picks' sets are notorious for coming out of their joins -- the wooden laminate needle part comes away from the metal casing. Some folks on Ravelry have seen success with superglue or Gorilla Glue to re-join and fasten the casings and tips, while others have just returned to the company for an exchange.
Knitter's Pride sets are, perhaps, more fragile in the smaller sizes, and I have seen someone break a tip off at the join by putting too much pressure on it. If you are a tight knitter, you might consider being extra-delicate with your smaller tips, or think about getting a harder material needle (like stainless steel.)
Hiya Hiya's swivel cords routinely break away from their needle joins. I have had this happen on two separate occasions. If you mail the cord back to the company, you will be sent a replacement. Still, this is an annoying event when you are mid-sweater and suddenly you have 20 live stitches floating in space!
While I will not stop using any of my sets, and I am happy with each of them as a purchase, I believe that the set I am most pleased with is my Knitter's Pride. I think it is truly worth the price I paid, and I would buy another again in a different 'base' and will extend the cord selection over time. My least favorite set at this point is the Hiya -- I find the tips a bit blunter than I care to work with, and the breaking swivel cords have been a bit frustrating over time.
I would love to hear feedback you have on the needle sets and your experiences with them in the comments!
Monday, March 10, 2014
|card is from Fringe Supply Co.|
The newest installment of Hello Yarn's Fiber Club has arrived in my mailbox! Lately I have been really feeling neutral tones, so 'Village Smithy', February's colorway, is perfect.
In fact, it actually goes with an extra gray in Knit Picks Palette that I ordered awhile back. The color is called 'Gosling'. I'm thinking about spinning the BFL/silk blend fiber up to about the same weight as the Palette and knitting a very simple, striped stockinette cowl. It might be just the thing that I need after I finish some of these sweaters!
Sunday, March 9, 2014
I finished one sock in each pair I've been working on -- kitchner stitches and all. They're so different -- one pair is dark and moody, made up of simple stockinette. The other is bright, cheery, and covered in cables.
I love opening my sock drawer and finding hand-knit socks inside. Each pair is a promise of warmer feet and toes -- something very important in Iowa, even headed into early spring. We're supposed to get 60 degree weather on Monday. I better hurry and finish, or these socks might be waiting until next fall to be worn.
That's probably wishful thinking!
Friday, March 7, 2014
I decided to start my swatch & review process with Shibui Kavo, their newest yarn line. This yarn is a cotton core, covered in silk. It has a sort of ribbon-like structure with no stretch. When knit solo, the swatch for Kavo is a bit crunchy, slightly mold-able, and has drape. I worked the swatch on size US 5 needles and it showed off the thick and thin qualities of this yarn, which is around a lace or fingering weight on it's own.
First, the lightweight blends, worked on a US 7 needle:
Kavo + Pebble
This mix allows the shine from the Kavo to dominate in the fabric. I think in a color pairing (other than Ivory on Ivory), you would see more of Pebble's tweedy texture showing up. The cashmere content of Pebble was more prominent on the purl side, perhaps suggesting that this combo in garter stitch would highlight both yarns best. The finished weight is about a fingering weight.
Kavo + Silk Cloud
Silk Cloud always adds a halo. In this pairing, the shine from both yarns is dulled slightly by the halo from the mohair content in Silk Cloud. The finished fabric has great drape and a light hand on US 7's, and worked up at about a fingering weight. This pairing is extremely soft and I would recommend it for lightweight, summer sweaters.
Kavo + Cima
Cima is one of my favorite Shibui yarns. It works well enough with Kavo to produce a more even fabric that doesn't have thick and thin qualities and blocks out smoothly. The opacity of this pairing is stronger than the other groupings -- I would recommend this for lightweight pullovers especially.
The heavier weight blends, worked on a US 8 and then a US 9 needle:
Kavo + Staccato
This was worked on a US 8 needle. This might be my favorite of all the pairings, since both Staccato and Kavo add sheen and a silky smoothness to the finished fabric. On a US 8, each stitch was squishy and rounded. The combined weight would be a good substitute for dk.
Kavo + Baby Alpaca
I worked this on a US 8 but feel it would be better at a larger gauge to allow the Baby Alpaca room to bloom. Not a bad pairing, could be good for extremely fluid shawls or scarves. This sits nicely as a dk weight, but could easily work on US 10s for a worsted weight substitute.
Kavo + Hiechi
Crunchy and papery, an unusual feeling for a knit. The Kavo adds sheen and visual interest to the fabric without interfering with Hiechi's structure. The finished weight is around an aran or heavy worsted weight yarn. This swatch was worked on US 9's.
Kavo + Linen
Produces a sheer fabric on US 9's, very summery. The Kavo lends a bit of softness to the linen that could make it appealing for next-to-skin spring and summer garments. At a tighter gauge or in crochet, this pairing would read as a highly textured, thick fabric good for housewares.
Kavo + Merino Alpaca
Kavo mainly adds visual interest here but not much else. Worked on US 9's, Merino Alpaca does all the talking. The finished fabric could be considered an aran or even bulky weight comfortably.
I have picked three of my favorite combinations here to highlight: Kavo + Cima, Kavo + Staccato, and Kavo + Silk Cloud. These three, in my opinion, are my absolute favorites -- they combine the best way for garments that I would wear frequently.
Kavo + Cima makes such a beautiful fabric. I could see it fitting effortlessly into the Pekoe pattern by Laura Chau, which has been long on my list. I would make mine in Kavo colorway Cornflower, combined with Cima Cascade, so that it would be a lightweight sweater, but perfect for early spring over dresses.
Kavo + Staccato is probably my favorite of all the combinations. I just love the sheen of the finished fabric. I would want to knit something that I could wear all the time, fall, winter, and early spring. The finished fabric would be fairly warm and squishy -- I would choose a neutral like Ash in both bases for maximum wearability, in Ankestrick's newest pattern, Diary.
Kavo + Silk Cloud is lightweight, airy, and graceful. I'd dig into the Shibui pattern suggestions and make a Ridge, a pattern by Lydia Tsymbal, in two sizes up. Heavenly and cloud-like, wouldn't this be lovely to pull on over the weekends? Of course, I'd make this one neutral as well, perhaps in the Graphite colorway.
Have you tried any Shibui Yarns? What are your favorite combinations, or, if you haven't tried them, what's keeping you away?
Disclaimer: I do work for Shibui Knits as a part-time freelancer, and they sent me this yarn to review for free. I promise that these reviews are honest and my opinions are my own, and have in no way been influenced by the company.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Since working for Shibui Knits, I have discovered the absolute joy that comes from creating your own fabrics by combining yarns. I really feel that the 'Mix' concept that they have adopted makes for some interesting, unique, knitting choices, and wanted to explore each and every possible option thoroughly. Luckily, the girls at Shibui were all ears, since helping me understand the different possibilities helps me write about combinations in the future and recommend them for patterns.
They sent me a big bunch of yarns, which I've gotten caked. It will be fun to explore all of the combinations with you and recommend patterns for each!
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I couldn't resist -- I finish one pair of socks and just have to cast on another! Simple stockinette ones this time, but I'm going to change it up a bit and try Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heel. My mom has been knitting socks using this heel and seems to love it as much as everyone else who has tried it, so it's time for me to give it a go!
I cast on in the new Miss Bab's yarn that I got in the mail in the colorway Zombie Games. I love how moody this colorway is while still featuring bright pops of green, teal, and burgundy. I think I'll love this pair. I'll be looking for a way to double-strand or reinforce the heel -- any ideas?
I forsee knitting a lot this weekend while watching Falling Skies, and hopefully during The Walking Dead, too. Do any of you watch The Walking Dead? I read the comics after the first season -- I'm very addicted, which surprises me, considering how zombies are my biggest fear ever. Irrational, I know.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I finished my Hickory socks over the weekend! Yet another pair for the sock drawer, finally. I love them in this cream colorway from No Two Snowflakes. The yarn is very soft and dimensional.
The pattern is from The Knitter's Book of Socks by Clara Parkes, and is called Hickory. I am trying to knit my way through these books and swap off knitting socks from patterns & plain-jane stockinette socks. My goal is to have more socks! I seem to go through them so quickly during the week. I also have a pair to darn... more on that later.
For now, just look at how pretty they are! Oooh. Ahhhh.
Yarn: No Two Snowflakes 100% merino sock
Pattern: Hickory by Jane Cochran