Monday, January 14, 2008

Product Review

When I went to Stringtown in Fort Smith, AR, I had to buy needles for my project, specifically, one 16-inch circular, US size seven (4.5mm)needle, and matching dpns. The brand Stringtown carries is Chiao Goo, which makes surprisingly inexpensive bamboo needles. The double points are pretty standard glove needles (short dpns). The were very easy to work with: no snags, easy to handle, dull points (but that's to be expected in bamboo).

However, I was less impressed with the circulars. They are constructed in a similar fashion to Crystal Palace bamboo circulars: narrow nylon cable, smooth bamboo needle, with a metal casing connecting the two. Like the larger sizes of Crystal Palace circulars, the needles would squeak a little as the metal and bamboo rubbed against each other, but my real complaint was that the join between the cable and the needle was less than smooth. I am a fairly loose knitter (partially because I knit continental-that is with the yarn in my left hand), so I was surprised that I had to force the stitches over the join in every round of the hat I was making. It was like every row was the cast-on row.

Now, that hat that I bought the needles for was out of a cashmerino blend. By the time I finished the hat, I had some cotton bought from Angelhair in Nashville that also required size seven needles. Despite the fact that the cast-on row in the cotton was also horrible (largely because the cotton tried to untwist itself in the knitted cast-on), the rest of the project was fine. The Chiao Goo circulars worked just fine with the cotton, and I plan to use them again.

So, my review: If you have the option of buying Chiao Goo bamboo needles, don't think twice about buying their double points. They're a great frugal purchase. I plan to buy more of these as I need them.

The circulars on the other hand, require a little more consideration. I do not recomend them for animal fibers or novelty yarns (ribbon, eyelash, and the like). They would probably work fine for mohair, though. If you are going to use a plant fiber, especially one that does not split easily, they will work just fine.

But whether you plan to use plant or animal fibers, only by the circulars if you don't mind a little squeaking now and then. If you are using plant fibers, and you don't mind a little squeaking, then these circulars will likewise be a good buy.

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I wish I'd found this post sooner. You may have gotten some defective needles since the join is usually pretty smooth on those. If you ever buy needles that have something wrong with them at Stringtown again, please let me know.
~Elizabeth

Harper said...

Thanks for your response, Elizabeth! That review was part of a two-part series, the first being a review of your store.

Here's the link:
http://stitchwhisper.blogspot.com/2007/12/post-from-road.html

Since we were on a cross-country jaunt and live in California, returning the needles didn't make much sense (I'm pretty sure I was no longer in Arkansas by the time I started using them).

Anyway, I loved visiting your store and hope to have the opportunity to return there someday.

Happy stitching! :D