Well, happy Tuesday! Or at least it will be for one of you.
Thank you so much for the lovely comments on my review of the KnitPro J’Adore Gift Set. It was interesting to read which needles you each prefer and the reasons why. The wonderful thing about our craft is that we can (hopefully) all find a technique, tool, style, fibre and colour that suits our individual needs. After all, that’s what inspires us to keep the craft alive.
Anyway, thought I’d pop in as promised to announce the winner of my first (I think) Blog Giveaway, and the winner is…… Anna! (All the names were put into a numbered spreadsheet in order of posting and the winner was chosen using Google’s Random Number Generator)
Anna will receive the set I road-tested last week which I received from the lovely people at KnitPro, along with a special something extra from your truly. All I need Anna is your full name and address and I’ll get the set out to you later this week.
Don’t worry if you weren’t lucky this time, there’ll be another Blog Giveaway next week. Details to come. As you know I’m not yet back to work full time but today I’m interviewing someone for a special piece I’m writing for Vogue Knitting Magazine. So I’d better rush…
Let me start by saying, yes, KnitPro asked if I’d be interested in posting about this product in exchange for being able to keep the set. Now, over the last few years, my Instagram following has grown considerably from when I initially set it up to ‘post some random pics’ of the nonsense I do from time to time. And, since reaching over 10,000 followers I’ve been approached by an often bizarre range of companies from sportswear brands (if you’ve seen me you’ll no I’m no athlete) and even more curiously a hair care company who clearly hadn’t noticed that I have no hair. Bless ‘em.
So why did I agree to this marketing collaboration with KnitPro? Because their Zing and Smarstix Interchangeables are my needles of choice, I use them all the time. And, I thought it might be nice to give some of the items away. As my late husband Sam used to say, “sometimes it’s just nice to be nice”.
Ok so what do I think of the J’Adore Needle Set?
Just in case you’ve never heard of it J’Adore is a special edition gift set of square interchangeable needles. Made of wood and shaped just like the KnitPro Cubics they come in 6 sixes (4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 and 8.0mm) with matt gold connectors that contrast nicely against the lavender colour of the needle tip. Needle sizes are laser printed in both US and Metric on the metal connectors and, just to be doubly sure, again in Metric only on the flat side of the needle tip itself about half inch / 1.5 cm from the base.
Each of the six sets of needle tips are snugly kept in place with elastic on a fabric covered board that pops nicely into the velour case that looks more evening clutch bag than knitting needle storage case. I must admit I’m not a huge fan of purple but this presentation is really eye-catching: the colour of the metal fixings pops nicely against the deep berry tones as do the end stops and heart shaped stitch markers (a combination of gentle pink and rich magenta), and the purple aluminium stitch holder. I know that as a purple lover and the person who taught me to knit, my Mum would absolutely have loved it.
The knitting experience
As someone who’s knitted on round needles for over 40 years, working with square needles takes some adjusting. My usual knitting technique is a hybrid style – I suppose I’d describe myself as a ‘Continental thrower’, that is although right handed, I throw my yarn with my left hand rather than tensioning the yarn over my left finger and picking the yarn through the stitch with the right needle tip. I’ve knitted like this for as long as I can remember. It’s a style that suits me perfectly well, not particularly pretty to watch but relatively quick and it gets the job done. But one thing I’ve noticed is that there are usually little irregularities in my knitted fabric. Slight twists in the row – every so often – that niggle me because I like everything to look ‘perfect’, But, you know what? I’ve come to accept those indiosyncracies as being characteristic of my hand. Oh I should also mention that I’m a dedicated metal needle lover. I like the slipperiness of them, the clicking noise they make and, being me, I like them even more when they come in bright, pretty colours.
So this J’adore set is a real departure for me: not only are they square but they’re also made of wood. And they’re all the same shade of purple. Still, I cast on with an open mind and eager hands.
It’s been said that cube shaped needles are better for arthritic hands but initially I found the square corners of the needles felt…well, odd. This really affected my knitting speed. It felt slow and uncertain. However my hands soon settled into a natural hold with my thumb resting easily on one plane of the square needle and the inner surface of my fingers finding another. It wasn’t long before my work passed easily along the cable then up and along the needles for transforming into one new stitch after another.
When I first opened this set I was a little surprised to find they didn’t come in the same sized increments as my other KnitPro sets. So when Swatch 2 came up noticeably tighter than Swatch 1 I thought I’d go up a size to knit Swatch 3. In this case, that next size is an 8.00 (rather than a 7.00 mm) and the largest size available in any of the KnitPro Cubics ranges. It may sound odd but this 2.00 mm increase in size made me much more aware of the ‘blockiness’ of the needles.
Here’s a comparison of Swatch 1 (knitted on 6.00mm round KnitPro Zing Interchangeables) and Swatch 2 (knitted on 6.00 square KnitPro J’Adore Interchangeables). As you can see there’s a marked difference in tension between the two swatches, in fact I noticed the fabric felt tighter whilst knitting, after just a couple of rows. After blocking and steaming both samples the fabric of Swatch 2 feels firmer (than Swatch 1) but not too tight. Plus, there are fewer of my usual random twists occurring in the rows.
Knitting the blue sample (Swatch 3) my tension was noticeably looser than usual, both in terms of the yarn passing through my fingers and how the stitches formed on the needles. The fabric felt laggy and I found it difficult to tighten up, despite pulling tighter on the yarn with each stitch. I couldn’t help feeling that a 7.00 mm might have given the result I was after so I’d be genuinely interested to know why the range skips certain sizes.
Sliding the stitches along the cable towards the tip of the needle also felt cumbersome with the larger 8.00 mm size. You might imagine that join – where the round threaded metal section meets the wooden tip might be a little like matching a square peg into a round hole, but not so with the smaller sizes. There’s a tiny section of the tip that’s engineered to change smoothly from round to square with little to no snagging – that is except on the larger size. That’s the point where I found my stitches got stuck and I can only imagine this would be worse on anything from 9.00 mm upwards.
Are square needles comfortable to use? Yes but expect it to take a little time to settle in.
So would I use these needles again? Yes definitely.
My current WIP, the Aimée Cardigan designed by Joji Locatelli was chosen as a restorative project, something I didn’t need to think too much about. Instead it’s been started no less than 5 times, simply because I couldn’t get gauge. Not exactly mindless or relaxing. I swatched and swatched, even trying to work with two different sizes of needle tip but in the end (after much frustration) I opted for a 3.75 mm needle and a larger than normal size. Given the marked effect these needles had on my usual tension during this test, they might have come in handy to help put the (p)leisure back into this current project.
Now, would you like to win this KnitPro J’Adore Gift Set? You can, by entering this giveaway. Rules, terms and conditions are given below.
Simply leave a comment below telling me your preferred needle type and why you’d like to win this set.