Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New toys

Really knitting is just arranging yarn with sticks, nothing more. I know that in times gone by knitters worked with quite primitive sticks, smoothed twigs, or wires ... or bone shapped and smoothed to the sizes needed. In theory a good knitter is a good knitter and the needles are much less important than the knowledge or the yarn used. But in practice - good well made elegant tools are always nice to use. I perfer to use materials and equipment that just works well, that way I can get on with the process of knitting (or writing, or working, or stitching, or drawing, or baking, or whatever it is that I'm doing).  Todays post is mostly about a new knitting toy that I've been enjoying, and a little update on the current lace project.

In the beginning when I learned to knit there were straight needles, long plastic or metal ones with stops on one end that displayed the size. I knit many things on those needles, mostly metal but sometimes plastic. Then in the mid 1980's (yes I have been knitting that long) I discovered a particular brand of knitting needle that were steel cores with a bright translucent plastic casing. I thought they were amazing - the different sizes were colour coded, and when you shook one the steel core rattled. I can't even remember the brand. Latter around 2000 I discovered the online knitting community and inspired by them branched out into dpns (double pointed needles). Metals ones were available here, but soon I was ordering lovely birch dpns, and addi bamboo dpns, Lantern Moon, and even Crystal palace dpns. Each seamed nicer to use than the last and my knit kit seemed to be constantly upgraded as I found better and nicer tools. I read about circular needles - so I bought some, and even invested in a set of interchangeable Denise  circular needles. I felt so prepared for knitting anything. I'd discovered knitting in the round and this set let me do that. Of course the Denise set also tended to come adrift at odd moments and didn't have needles small enough to knit socks. I tried to magic loop socks but really didn't find it a pleasant process.

Finally some one took pity on me and offered to send me 'good' circular needles to try - I accepted and was sent a pair of KnitPicks 2.25mm sock needles. Wow! I finally understood that the quality of the join, how smooth and flexible it was made all the difference in how easy a circular needle was to use. The better the join, the smoother it was, the more flexible the cable was, all that contributed to a nicer to use needle. Around that time KnitPicks launched their interchangeable needle set, and I meet two local knitters who had brought sets back from the States. I was in awe at the pointy tips, the flexible cables and the secure way it all fitted together. I sold my Denise set to fund a full set of Knit-picks interchangeable circulars complete with binder (they called it the Options set but don't offer it with the binder anymore), had Bear call in professional favors to forward ship the order from a US address to a NZ address (KnitPicks wouldn't ship outside of the US) and paid a small fortune in shipping - but I was happy. A few years latter  KnitPicks were available in New Zealand, and I picked up extra cables and wooden harmony tips. I thought I was set, the needles were all I could ask of a knitting tool, flexible cables, pointy tips, secure join, and several kinds of materials to choose from (metal, wood and plastic) all in a neat zip up folder.
Then my local pusher was incredibly mean and showed me the latest knit kit from Hiya Hiya. I  have had Hiya Hiya needles before, little short glove needles for working the fingers, and  a few circulars. Nice I thought but not nicer than my current set up. These new Hiya Hiya circulars are amazing, I've succumbed, I ordered a set and once it arrived my other needles haven't left their zip up case.
First up the case is flat, compared to the 'other set' its tiny and yet it holds pretty much the same equipment. There are needles, in sizes from 2.75mm to 5mm, with space for at least as many more tips to fit, there are cables small enough to knit a hat and long enough to knit a large shawl, and the little grippy pads, each in its own storage area. This is so much easier to tote around and prettier with its silk cover. Inside are the tips, and each has its size etched smoothly on the tip to prevent confusion. The tips screw fit to the cables with a long thread, and are tightened using two wee grippy pads. All that is good but the best bit is ....
here, at the end of the cable there is a wee swivel. The cable swivels easily and is amazing, no more twisty curly kinks as one knits. That feature alone is one of most valuable improvements  - kink-less knitting. I guess that sounds really weird, and if you didn't knit it would be, but if you knit, and knit with circulars you know how annoying it can be when the cable builds up twist and starts to fight back. Some one at Hiya Hiya is a knitter, and not only that but a knitter who thinks about what would make knitting better ... I like that.

So I've been knitting with my HiyaHiya, a few rows here and a few rows there on my Deciduous lace shawl, and loving every bit of it.
Oh and I apologise if you now need to investigate Hiya Hiya needles, but you would rather I shared than kept them as a secret wouldn't you?

take care
na Stella


Rachelle said...

Is Morag going to be stocking the HiyaHiya kits? Cos they're not on her website and I want prices!

Shirley Goodwin said...

Well damn, now I'm going to have to investigate the Hiya Hiya needles! I thought my Denise interchangeables were the best, but I admit that the odd separation does occur. Plus I have SO many unfinished projects that the cables are all in use.....somewhere.

Knitting Linguist said...

Swivels are the best! Signature circulars have swivels, and I adore them madly. They're not interchangeable, though... :)