Even as a child, I’ve always hated when I was asked “What is your favorite [fill in the blank]?” I rarely have one favorite thing. However, when it comes to knitting needles, there is a clear answer.
Ok, I haven’t tried every knitting needle brand out there on the market, however, I’ve tried a number of them including: wood, metal and a few bamboo ones. Of those materials, I prefer bamboo. Bamboo is warmer to the touch than metal, but seems harder than wood (at least compared to the birch of my Brittanys). In addition, bamboo is a sustainable material.
NOT ALL BAMBOO IS THE SAME
Not all bamboo needles are made alike. I also have Clover and an unbranded cheap set from China on Amazon. Clovers are the most easily available (in the States) because they are the brand usually carried by the large craft chain stores. They are a solid brand, but the quality of the bamboo and finish of KA is better. The available unbranded cheap sets are great for new knitters who just want to get started and be able experiment with various needle sizes, however, you really get what you pay for. Some tips splintered on their initial use and some so badly that they were rendered unusable. There is no real quality control in these products resulting in minor variances in needle diameter (of the same size) and noticeable variances in tip shapes.
I find KA needles are the BEST.
They are made in Japan with a high quality bamboo and well constructed. The hard smooth ‘polish’ of these high quality needles makes for a smooth quick knit without being slippery. Although lightweight, they have a slight more heft (which I prefer) compared to the wood Brittanys. Any new needles I purchase will be KA. I also plan to slowly replace my most used needle sizes in double point with KA.
Luckily, my closest LYS (local yarn store) also happens to carry the full range of KA needles.
Mind’s Eye Yarn – Porter Square
22 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
From KA’s catalog:
KA, the oldest manufacturer of bamboo knitting needles in Japan, was founded in 1916 in Nara. Nara, the old capital city 1300 years ago is the origin of Japanese tradition and culture and a primary source of premium quality bamboo.
The industry started with the creation of bamboo ribs to stretch and dry the Japanese Kimono. . . .
Our premium knitting needles are made from select bamboo giving them a lightweight and warm feeling. There are more than 500 kinds of bamboos in Japan. We use only two kinds of the finest, aged bamboo, which are superior in density, flexibility, color and gloss. With the passing of time and use, our needle’s satin finish becomes even smoother.
If you are interested in reading more about the different needle materials, the pro and cons of each, and general advice on selecting needles. Read here.