Sometimes an opportunity comes along at just the right moment.
Having posted the other day about visiting the Knitting and Crochet Guild archive, I was thinking a lot about the historical changes – or rather, lack of changes – in the tools that we use to work our yarn. And right when I was pondering the matter, the German company Prym contacted me to say, “S’cuse me Twisted, we’ve just revolutionized the design of the knitting needle. Would you care to take a nosey?”
Obviously, I said yes.
Let’s start with the facts. Prym has just this week brought out a new range of needles called Ergonomics. The clue is in the name: they went right back to the drawing board to try and figure out the perfect needle for your stitches. Many furrowed (knitted?) brows and many, many caffeine-fuelled hours later, they decided that they’d found the answer. Here’s the contents of the package that landed on my doorstep the other day:-
Shall we see what’s inside?
First and foremost, the folks at Prym came to the conclusion that the ideal knitting needle would have a little drop shape at its tip, to better catch stitches:-
Also, the central part of the shaft would be triangular in profile, and slightly narrower than the round portion near the ends. That’s tricky to show in a photograph:-
And they’d be made from ‘high performance synthetic material’ (erm, plastic?) which is flexible without breaking, and is also warm to the touch. Also, the straights could be clipped together, in order to prevent your stitches from wandering off-piste when your WIP is squished in the bottom of your handbag. Look!
Of course I put these needles to the test – the straights, and the DPNs – so that in true Twisted tradition, I can present you with the world’s most nerdy, nit-picketty review. And as I’ve oft said before, needle choice has a lot to do with personal preference, so there’s no point in anyone saying THESE NEEDLES ARE PERFECT, or THESE NEEDLES ARE TERRIBLE! I’ll try and give you an idea of what they’re like, so that you can decide whether or not they’d be right for you. OK?
So let’s cast on, and work a few rounds.
These are the 4mm (US size 6) double-pointeds in action. They’re light, and they’re warm, and I freakin’ love the bobbly nobble on the end – it’s ideal for grabbing hold of your yarn. That’s a genuinely splendid innovation.
One thing to note is that these needles are very grippy. Some of you will love this, some of you will hate it. I was quite slow knitting the Rowan Felted Tweed (pure wool) in these pictures, so I thought I’d change to some more slippery yarn to see whether that helped. Here’s some nice smooth green Rico Design cotton:-
Yup, that helped. Suddenly, I was knitting much faster.
There was another issue with tension, though, that I’m going to struggle to explain without sounding like a total needle nerd. If you look at the photo of the needle tips earlier in this post, you’ll see that the tapered section is quite long – longer than on any other needles I own. (And I own a lot of needles: the Stoic Spouse says you couldn’t find a haystack amongst my needles.) Now, it’s the widest portion of the needle that determines your loop size, and thus your gauge. This isn’t a problem if your needle reaches its greatest width fairly soon. But with these, I found that if I worked my stitches as normal, I was working them on the narrowed part of the needle, and so they were rather small, and very tight when I pushed them further along. Maybe I need to adjust my knitting style to match the needles. Maybe I need to get out more.
They’re handsome beasts, though:-
The design (including size) is printed on and not etched, and so like every other needle with printing along its length, this snazzy pattern is not going to stay put forever. Even after a few thousand stitches (albeit rather tight stitches!) the paintwork was starting to suffer:-
Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to use a needle gauge to check their size, despite the triangular profile, because the end sections are round like a conventional needle.
That reminds me: the triangular profile. This was easy to grip, especially in larger needles. And yes, these needles are very flexible. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to try breaking one on your behalf. I just couldn’t.) But they certainly bend quite a bit without complaint. The 4mm DPNs almost felt too flexible, but maybe I’m just a violent knitter. I do wonder what the 3mm needles from the range would feel like, but I haven’t tried those.
Going bigger in size, the flexibility felt less worrying in the 6mm straights that I tried.
And have I mentioned that all of these needles are quiet? Seriously, they’re the quietest needles I’ve ever used. Maybe this doesn’t matter to you, but I’m writing as someone who’s sat through the twinnage’s music class trying desperately not to click-click-click as I knitted on metal or wood. They’re light, too.
So do I like them? Well, I’ll let my knitting tell you the answer, right here:-
Does that answer the question? They are slow, though, so I’ll save them for my slipperiest yarns. And the smaller-gauge DPNs did feel a wee bit too floppily-flexible for my personal preference.
Anyway, let’s talk about the range. As of this week, you can buy these pretties as straights and DPNs. In the summer, a range of circulars will be added. I like the sound of the circulars: the cord will be plastic-covered steel (exactly like some of the early 20th century needles at the Knitting and Crochet Guild: nothing is completely new!) and hopefully less annoyingly curly than some cords that I’ve encountered. Here are the sizes that you can buy right now:-
Straights: 3-10mm (US sizes 2.5-15) in 35cm (14”).
3-12mm (US sizes 2.5-17) in 40cm (16”).
Double-pointed: 3-8mm (US sizes 2.5-11) in 20cm (8”).
These are relatively long needles. I’m not sure the DPNs need to be quite so long but again, maybe that’s just me.
They’re available throughout Europe. (Check the Prym website for your nearest stockist.) Those of you further afield will need to buy them from a European supplier, for now.
So should you throw your hard-earned cash in their direction? The droplet-shaped end really is rather fabulous. It’s hard to describe how wonderfully it engages with the yarn. If you like very grippy needles and if your gauge tends towards the loose, you’ll like ‘em. I think they’d particularly suit a beginner. Their warmth and flexibility is easy on the hands, too.
Go on, you know you want to.
Meanwhile, the folks at Prym have produced a video to show you more. It’s here:-
This post was sponsored by Viral Lab, but all opinions are my own. (Don’t look at me like that! How do you think I afford to buy all this yarn!)