In Praise of Chiaogoos and Karbonz

Needle choice is a very personal thing, and something that one person hates might well be what works best for someone else. A conversation on Twitter the other day inspired me to talk about my favourites and why they work for me.

I used to be a big fan of KnitPro Symphonies, to someone who learnt to knit on grey metal pony needles they were really exciting: the ability to swap tips and cables, the quietness and lightness of the wood and the pretty colours. I built up a collection of interchangeables and dpns and they weren’t perfect but I liked them.

I prefer to knit socks on dpns and I found I kept breaking my needles, mainly my own fault, but with very thin wooden needles it’s somewhat inevitable. When I heard that knit pro were bringing out carbon fibre needles I was intrigued. Partly, it was my geeky side that found the idea of using such a new and technically advanced material for something as simple as knitting needles exciting, but also I thought it might solve my problem of snapped needles without being as slippery as metal. Doing a lot of my knitting on the move, on buses and in queues, needles that fall out when you’re not paying attention aren’t for me. I ordered a set of 2.25mm Karbonz, my favourite size for socks, and I’m really happy with them. They are warm and light like wood, and although the tips are metal they don’t click too loudly and I haven’t managed to break them yet.

KnitPro Karbonz
My current socks in progress on KnitPro Karbonz ©Rachel Gibbs

Everything other than socks I tend to use circulars for, they’re easier on my wrists than straights and very convenient, especially interchangeables. I found with the KnitPros that they would come unscrewed when I knit and that the numbers wore off and I was always searching for a needle gauge. I decided to try a few types, HiyaHiya Bamboo, Chiaogoo Spin and Pony Bamboo. I’d heard good things about all of them, so I got a set of tips and cable in each. It wasn’t a particularly scientific experiment since they were all in different sizes, which may have contributed to the results, but for me, the Chiaogoos came out top.

Chiaogoo, HiyaHiya and Pony needles
Chiaogoo, HiyaHiya and Pony needles ©Rachel Gibbs

I really like that the size is engraved on the needle and the cable tips, saving me from searching for needle gauges and tape measures. I found I prefer using a key to tighten the join. I wasn’t a fan of the rubber grips for the HiyaHiyas, especially since they don’t come as standard with the cables and have to be bought separately. I also love the swivel join, I think it really helps the tips not come unscrewed. The Chiaogoo tips are really smooth and slightly more rigid that the HiyaHiyas, particularly in the smallest size, which I like as I was worried that the HiyaHiyas would break. Not forgetting, of course, that Chiaogoo is really fun to say.

My Christmas present to myself was a full set of small Chiaogoos, and so far I’m loving them. What’s your favourite type of needle and why?

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