Note: this is not a sponsored review. My husband bought me these needles for Christmas.
Some people don’t like knitting with tiny needles. I understand that. They seem dangerous, and they can be (the first time I knit socks I used teeny tiny double points and ended up sending one of them into my foot, it wasn’t fun). Small needles also generally means using really fine yarns, and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Unless you’re me. If you’re me, fine yarns are your go to, both for knitting and for spinning. I also have a habit of knitting loose, and so generally to get gauge I need to go down at least 1mm from what’s recommended. All of that to say, as soon as I found out that these existed, I wanted them.
This was my first experience with ChiaoGoo needles. I almost always use circulars, but the interchangeable set I was given a few years ago has served me well, and I hadn’t really ventured out to see what else was available. My friend Janet from The Bobbin Tree, knowing my penchant for fine yarns, pointed them out to me and I was instantly intrigued.
First off, what you get in the set:
Inside the adorable mesh carrying case, you’ll find three nylon coated steel cables, the sleeve with the needle tips, a plastic case with the tightening pins, stitch markers and a heart shaped gripper and a ruler/needle gauge. Let’s take a closer look at the important parts.
In the set you get three cables to make 24 (60cm), 32 (80cm) and 40 (100cm) circulars. These cables are nylon-coated steel. They are super flexible, memory free and have a good contrast with a lot of yarns. If you’ve ever tried to magic loop with fine yarn on stiff, clear cables that kept trying to curl up on you, you’ll know how important those things are. These cables are not the same as the standard and large cables ChiaoGoo offers – they are only compatible with the mini set and only come in the above lengths and 47 (120cm) which is not included in the set. There are mini connectors available if you do need longer length, as well as an adaptor so a standard tip can be used with the mini cables.
These are 5 inch steel tips, size 1.5mm to 2.5mm, which are similar to the ChiaoGoo Red Lace tips (which I’ve never used, but I’ll take their word for it). I really liked these tips. They are pointy without being stabby/sharp – I could use my finger to push the needle down without it hurting. I have always been a big fan of pointy needles, even though I tend to knit loose, and finding the balance between pointy and not hurting yourself is important. For as thin as these are, they are solid – even the smallest size (1.5 mm) doesn’t feel the least bit flimsy. The 2, 2.25 and 2.5mm needles have the sizes printed on the tips, while the 1.5 and 1.75mm have dots printed on them. Very helpful if you have more than one set on the go at a time.
The pouch the needles come in is black mesh with two zippered pockets. It’s compact, but big enough to fit other things in there with the set (my pouch is currently holding a bag of beads and a small crochet hook along with the set). The sleeve for the needles is very convenient and well made, having the sizes printed on the holder is a nice touch for keeping organised. In the plastic tool holder you get some small stitch markers, two cable connectors, a couple of tightening pins, two end stoppers and a red heart shaped gripper. Since there are only three cables, having the connectors included is a great bonus. The tightening keys seem to be standard t-pins (blocking pins), which is useful if you need to replace them. The gripper is also very useful and I’ve already used it with my other interchangeable set. I’m also a big fan of the end caps – they’re easy to grip and thread onto the cables smoothly. Every part that attaches to the cables has a hole for the tightening pins.
This is all the technical info, but the big question is – how do they work?
I used these needles to knit myself some lovely socks. As mentioned before, I tend to knit loose, so generally socks are knit on 2.5 or 2.25 needles. For these ones, I bumped down to the 2mm with the middle cable length for 32″(80cm) needles. I almost always do my socks two at a time, toe up, using magic loop. Two at a time on a 32″ cable isn’t ideal, especially when doing the heels, but I had no major issues. I could have used the 40″, but I wanted to test just how flexible the cables were.
The first thing I noticed was the cable. Generally with the first few rounds of socks there’s a bit of fighting with the cable, but not with these. The cable behaved beautifully even before I was finished with the toes. With the pointy tips I had no problem picking up the stitches for the toe increases, and on the instep I was able to cable without a cable needle without dropping a stitch or splitting the yarn. With the 2mm needle, my gauge was 14sts/5cm, which is much closer to standard than I typically get.
I did end up having to re-tighten the cables twice – once early on (just after the toe increases) and once when doing the short row heels. The first instance I’m guessing I just didn’t have them tightened properly, and the second I’m blaming on my technique. I’m a combination knitter and throw the yarn clockwise on my knit stitches and counterclockwise on my purls (don’t worry, it confuses most people who watch me knit) and I’m thinking that in combination with the turns for the heels, things got worked lose. Like most interchangeable needles, there was the annoyance of getting a stitch stuck in the gap because I hadn’t noticed them loosening, but the joins are smooth and the yarn didn’t get any pulls, so it’s not a major complaint.
All in all, I’m very pleased with this set. The needles are slick, pointy and solid, and the cables are amazingly flexible. I’m looking forward to doing a lace project – maybe even tackling some nups to test the pointy tips to their fullest. I’d even be tempeted to pick up some of the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles if I find myself in need of a new set.