My Dad is a handy guy. A really handy guy. The kind of guy whose garage is basically a giant peg-board of all kinds of tools and bits and pieces. He saves and uses everything, and it’s generally acknowledged in our family that he could build a flux-capacitor with found objects from our garage: Some nuts and bolts, some lumber, a few empty water-bottles and a few old socks.
Dad ended up imparting all of his tool-y wisdom to the three of us girls — I especailly loved doing projects with him and so I’ve heard him nod his head, and look at me knowingly, and intone “what this job needs is the proper tools.” Then he’d dissapear into the garage and come back with the perfect screwdriver, or a scrap of cardboard to wedge a windowsill into perfection, or a perfectly sized rubberband-and-button combo to help keep my Barbie’s head attached to her body. Whatever the task, it can always be executed with grace and elan as long as you have the proper tools.
That’s exactly how I feel about my Knit Picks Options needles. I love almost everything about them. Knitting with the ultra-fine Zephyr filament of my Frost Flowers & Leaves shawl, the smooth, glassy needles seem to find their way perfectly into and out of each stitch. The tips are just right — not too pointy, not too blunt. And the needles themselves feel almost soft to the touch, warming up quickly in my hands as I start to work.
Part of that softness is the cable, of course. Soft and buttery, in a happy shade that’s not quite pink but not quite purple, the cable holds absolutely no shape even after storage in a tight coil. It never feels tight or awkward to hold and will bend a full 180 degrees with no problem for easy magic-looping, then spring back without kinking or memory.
I love that the cords can double as stitch-holders — you just unscrew the needles and screw on needle caps — so that you can use the needles for another project or safely transport your knitting so that no stitches make an escape. The cords are only four dollars each, and when you factor in the time-savings of moving a project on and off needles and the versitility of each cable, it’s completely worth the price. Finally, cables come in lengths from 24 to 60 inches, so they are equivalent with almost every circular needle out there.
I do have a few beefs with the Options needles, in large part based on my experience with the Boye Needlemaster set I got when I first took up knitting. My favorite thing about the Needlemaster set is the awesome case it comes with. Each size needle tip has a spot, labled with needle size, and a little elastic strap to hold the tips in place. There’s a place for the cables, and a few little pockets for accessories. I managed to cram several stitch-holders, stuffed with stitch-markers, a pair of scissors, several pieces of scrap yarn, and a few bread ties into my case. It was great to grab the case and know I’d have everything I needed to get a project from start to finish.
The Options case, frankly, is a glorified Day-timer. You’re supposed to stuff your needles and cables and tools into little plastic pouches with zip-tops. Yeah, right. So far I’ve tried to adjust to the new holder. I neatly packaged all the cables into the binder when they first arrived, but I can’t seem to bring myself to actually use it now. Instead, I drape my cables over chair arms and doorknobs or even leave them at the bottom of my knitting sachels or in ziplock bags when I’m done with a project. Likewise, the needle tips came on a nice piece of cardboard, held in place with elastic, and numbered so that each tip has its place. Where the Needlemaster tips are all different colors, so it’s easy to tell the threes from the fours (and avoid knitting with one of each!) the Options all have the same pretty-but-identical nickel-plated patina. Based on the way the case is designed, I can only assume Knit Picks thinks knitters will just take all the needle tips and store them jumbled together in a few plastic pouches. Finding the needles you need means dragging out a needle-sizer and doing some rummaging. Needless to say, my Options are still living on the cardboard and elastic shipping package. Bag and accessory designers out there, take note — this could be a great niche market!
Full disclosure: I’m not affiliated with Knit Picks in any way, just a happy customer. I’ve never tried the Denise needles, although I hear they’re wonderful. I’ve had my Options and given them moderate use for about six months now — so while they’re wonderful now, I can’t speak for their longevity. I only have the interchangeable Options set, and I’ve never worked with the smaller-size circular needles or the double pointed needles from Knit Picks.
Climbing down off my soap-box now. Thanks, Daddy, for teaching me the importance of proper tools, and thanks to Knit Picks for making such great needles!