I am working on a cardigan for my husband, and I was delighted to see the pattern called for size 8 double pointed needles. I, in fact, did not own any size 8 dpns and was happy to have an excuse to finally buy a new set. I was mostly excited because I have been wanting to try square knitting needles for quite some time. However, when I have a set of very serviceable needles in the required size already in my collection (that just happen to be round and not square), it's hard to justify going out and buying more. This cardigan solved my problem. Yay!
So, with great anticipation, 17.5" of the body worked and permission to move on to the sleeve, I pulled out my brand new 8" Foursquare Majestic Wood double pointed needles from KnitPicks. I figure, double points were a good way to really test these needles out, too...take them for an in-the-round spin, so to speak.
First, let's talk about their appearance. I am a huge fan of wood needles, always have been. KnitPicks has some particularly beautiful needles in a variety of woods and finishes. The Foursquare needles are the laminated birch wood in the "majestic" colorway, meaning they have a nice combination of blues, purples and greens. These needles have what I would call a "high gloss" finish, which surprised me, but I will get back to that in a moment. As the name implies, the needles are square, having four flat sides with slightly rounded edges. They come to a nice, rounded point (on both ends, in the case of the double pointed needles). They are the same size as their rounded counterparts, meaning you can use the same hole in a gauge to see what size needle you are dealing with.
*Side note: Luckily my stitch matched my gauge from the round needles I worked with throughout the rest of the sweater. KnitPicks does encourage you to check, however, as some people's stitch size is different when they switch from the round to the square needles.
Now that the appearance is taken care of, let's talk mechanics. As I mentioned, these needles are very glossy. I was worried, especially working in the round, that this would lead to stitches easily falling off. However, those crafty designers at KnitPicks know what they are doing. I guess it's the perfect blend of gloss and edge, my stitches slide off easily when I want them, but stay put when I don't. I found these needles to work very well with my tweed wool in my current project, making every stitch feel consistent and smooth. I like that the needles are offered in a variety of lengths (4, 5, 6, 8"); I personally like working with the longer 8" for worsted weight yarns. These 8" needles are available in sizes 4-11. However, I did see that sizes 0-3 (with the more precise metric sizes included) were also available in the 4-6" lengths.
Bottom Line: If you are looking to try something new, I would recommend getting a pair of these needles. Especially if you enjoy wood needles. I am sure they are not for everyone (as is the case with all needles) but I really have enjoyed knitting with them. I get consistent stitches and the motion of knitting is very comfortable. The needles fit well in my fingers and the flat sides might actually help with my grip. And of course these needles look beautiful, too, with their swirls of greens and blues acting as eye candy as you knit. For such an affordable price, these are great needles. I plan on buying more.
Have you ever wondered where to get those brilliant finishing touches for your knitted pieces? Like elegant shawl pins, unique buttons or the hardware for a nice knitted clutch? I did. My local knitting store is a wonderful place, but it just doesn't have the traffic to support a large collection of the after-knitting add-ons. Well, wonder no more and wander no further, JUL Designs is a one-stop shop for a lot of those needs. Granted, their artistic style might not match the project at hand; they have a beautiful inventory that is handmade, but the breadth of styles is not huge. I actually stumbled upon this site after reading a post in Knitting Daily about different ways to wear a shawl. In the article, they mentioned receiving a box of various pins, sticks and leather from JUL and put them to good use. Using the provided hyperlink, I stumbled upon a lovely website for shawl knitters.
I ordered a nice shawl pin to accompany a lace shawl I knitted for my mother. (It was the Passion Flower Shawl Pin, featured here.) There is free shipping on orders over $25 and the pin arrived within a week. I was very pleased with the weight and craftsmanship of the pin. This particular piece was handmade with fair trade in mind in Indonesia. I was a little disappointed with the packaging. Not the shipping package, but the package the actual pin resided in was a little lackluster. It was a clear plastic bag. For the price, I wasn't hoping for a wooden box, but I was hoping for...well...something a with a little more umph so perhaps I could leave the pin in its packaging when gifting it. (Something about leaving it in a clear plastic bag doesn't scream high quality gift to me.)
The website is well organized, easy to use, and updated regularly. You can also subscribe to a newsletter so you are notified of sales and special deals. Their inventory includes completed items such as bags, hardware for things such as purses, pedestal buttons, patterns for an array of shawls, hats, etc., jewelry, shawl pins and sticks as well as other interesting items I'm too lazy to list here.
Bottom Line: The prices are very reasonable, the items are meaningfully artistic, the shipping was fast and free and the item was high quality and in excellent shape when it arrived. The lackluster packaging aside, I would recommend checking out this site, especially with the holidays just around the corner.
Available at various retailers
Price: $10-20 for 12 oz bottle
Blocking is such an important part of knitting. It really makes a huge difference in the finished product. Also, garment care is crucial. If you spend hours making a sweater, there is a good chance you want it to last. Perhaps you might even want to make it last longer than it took to knit. Crazy, I know. This means having a mild detergent made for hand-washing is key. I recently decided to try out Soak. It is a Canadian based company with an eco-friendly line of washes in great scents (as well as scentless). It is an affordable wash that is made with knits in mind. It can also be used for lingerie, baby garments, quilts, workout clothes...the list goes on. It is designed for hand-washing, but it can also be used in HE washers. It is very gently on your skin, too, so go ahead and throw those fingers in the water to give your shawl a good swish. (And don't worry about the manicure, either.) The thing that got me hooked, other than the great scents and ease of use, was that it is no rinse. No rinse? That's pretty amazing. The wash I was using before was a powder and left a little grit in my garments if I did not rinse thoroughly, which is sometimes difficult when you have a big, drippy wool sweater you are trying to wash in your tiny bathroom sink. With Soak, you put a tablespoon in for a gallon of water, throw in your garment, let it soak for 15 minutes, and you're done. How easy is that?
Bottom Line: Try it out, it is well worth it. As its name suggests, it makes soaking knitted items a breeze. It makes garments smell fresh and it is super easy to use. Now that I've found this product, I don't see myself switching any time soon. I particularly like the fig scent.
The holidays are winding down, I'm still recovering from the feasting and merry-making, and boy are there a lot of goodies to write about. The fun thing about having knitting as a hobby is that many people get you knitting things for holidays. Unlike receiving a snow globe from your Aunt Mildred every year since you were seven, you can never really have too many knitting gadgets and yarn. If you start to run out of space...knit faster. One such goodie I received from Santa this year was the Knit Picks Rosewood Edition Interchangeable Circular Needle Set. Say that ten times real fast. (For those of you who prefer straight needles, there is a set of those, too.) The set includes 9 interchangeable needles ranging in size 4-11, including both 10 and 10.5. There are two each of the 24" and 32" cables with eight cable ends and two cable keys.
First, let's talk about the great and the good. These needles are beautiful. They are a rich rosewood, which is darker than most natural wood tips, with the grain beautifully swirling over each tip. They are sturdy and smooth. Unlike some wood needles, there really is not a lot of drag or snag to worry about with these. (They still have the warm feel of knitting with wood needles, though.) There is a nice size variety, most of the popular sizes for garment knitting are included. If you want sock-sized needles, you may want to look into a different set. I have always enjoyed knitting with wood needles and these really make the grade in quality.
Alas, there are two sides to every coin, and there are just a few things in the "con" column of this review. First, I wish the set came with a longer cable cord...perhaps four different sized cables instead of two of each size provided. There aren't many things that require more than 32", but there are some. Also, I have yet to find an interchangeable circular needle that did not, on occasion, start to unscrew from the cable during a project. This makes interchangeable needles a little less desirable to me than their permanently cabled counterparts...though I'm definitely a circular needle type of girl. However, I debated including this because it seems to be a problem inherent in interchangeable needles, not something specific to this product. Having used the needles in this set, the problem is not pervasive as you work, it is an occasional annoyance. The price of this product is a little high, at $80.99. Though you are saving money over buying needles individually, it will set you back a bit to buy the whole set.
The Bottom Line: This is a very nice set. I love the rosewood, it comes nicely packaged, and the needles really feel great while knitting. It would make a wonderful gift for any knitter who enjoys circular needles and are a fun and worthwhile splurge for any knitter treating themselves. The link to the product is found below.