These itty bitty needles are a new experience for me. I decided to try them on a whim after one of the cats chewed on my favorite Chai Goo sock needles and made them unusable.
I bought these from Webs for about $10 each, in sizes US1/2.25mm and US2/2.75mm. I was actually trying to find a US1.5/2.5mm, but they didn’t have them at the time (I have not been able to find metal US 1.5 needles anywhere except Amazon for some reason). Since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I decided to try something totally new, since I’d have to pick a new-to-me needle anyway.
If you haven’t worked with short needles like this, they are intended for socks and other small circumference projects. I’m a dedicated magic loop knitter who occasionally jumps ship to Camp DPN when I’m in the mood (or reenacting).
These itty bitty needles are made of birch, and appear to come in several colors. I’m assuming the colors are related to the needle size (my 2s are purple-ish, while the 1s are more of a honey color), but they could be random for all I know. Tip to tip they are only 10″ long, making them the shortest needles I’ve ever worked with. The wood itself is roughly the size of a toothpick, both is length and diameter (okay, it’s a little bigger. But it sure felt like I was playing with toothpicks when I pulled them out of the package). The points are dull, almost to the point of being completely flat.
I started with the size 1, transferring my WIP with the damaged needle onto it. I was just at the start of the heel gusset, so it was a snug fit (we aren’t going to discuss the difference that .25mm size difference made to my sock. There’s frogging in my future, but that’s not the needle’s fault).
The size 2 I worked into another previously started sock (this time one that was already on a needle of the same size, but with a plastic cable), which was halfway down the heel flap. Unlike the other sock, this one was knit in two colors with contrast cuff, heel, and toes, and a small band of colorwork just below the cuff.
There was definitely a learning curve. On top of having a much shorter cable, the size of the needle was also a big adjustment and it took me a while to get going, but once I got the hang of it–about ten rows–it moved swiftly. The benefit of such a small needle is that you don’t have to readjust your stitches the way you do when you get to the end of a DPN or to the cable loop when working magic loop. I will say that once I got into the groove of it, it was a lot faster than either of the other methods, at least for me.
There are some drawbacks to these needles. The size of them made my hands get tired faster and I had to adjust the way I held and formed each stitch. Second, without the end of a needle or cable to guide me, I had to use stitch markers so I could feel when I needed to make my gusset decreases. This isn’t a big deal and I use stitch markers whenever I need to, but it’s not my preferred way to work as they sometimes catch or fall off the needle, or, when I’m particularly clever, manage to get knit into the fabric (I only did that once. Not sure how). And on such a small circumference, having two of them felt rather crowded.
The joints are also not as smooth as I would have liked. For the most part it wasn’t an issue; everything was so crowded on the needle that the stitches mostly moved around the circuit on their own, but every once in a while they would catch on the metal join and I’d have to stop to fix it.
Working the heel flap and gusset was particularly tricky in my opinion. In might have been easier if you were working toe up with a short row heel, but I also wouldn’t want to mess around with a figure 8 or Judy’s magic cast on on such tiny needles–perhaps if I had two in the same size, I could make it work.
The flat tips make things like picking up dropped stitches, cables, and decreases more difficult. I feel like if these needles had either a longer cable or a pointier tip, it would be easier, but the combination of the two as is means I probably won’t use them for a patterned sock.
Where I can see an advantage for these needles is in small spaces, such as a long road trip, a flight, or perhaps even for my fellow movie theater knitters. They would also be great if you’re in a time crunch and are looking for a way to speed up your socks–I knit most of a gusset in one sitting, instead of two. They’re also easier to store, taking up less space, and they’re too short to tangle.
So, final thoughts: Are these for me?
Well, I don’t be trading in my 60″ Chiao Goo needles any time soon, even if the cat does insist on chewing on them.
But I will probably pull them out from time to time, and I do like the fact that they are easy to tuck away, even if I can’t use them for the variety of projects I can my big needles. If you’re not a fan of magic loop, or are intimidated by working with 4 or 5 double pointed needles, then I encourage you to give these a try. They’re definitely not for everyone, but I won’t be throwing them out of my knitting bag any time soon.
So long as I can keep Bast from using them as toothpicks.
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