At the risk of starting a huge debate – I am not the biggest fan of straight needles. I think I know why – every time I tried to learn to knit, up until I finally cracked it, I was using some budget aluminium needles that were not only heavy, but cold, awkward and made the most apocalyptic CLANG when dropped. I bought wooden needles but these were either insanely long (so I felt like I was rowing a boat) or just a bit rubbish. Then I hit upon KnitPro Symphonie Interchangeables and I felt like I’ve found the promised land. Finally, needles other than DPNs that I could control! However, when I started knitting toys (I love knitting toys!) especially when I saw the Alan Dart toys in Simply Knitting, I realised that a circular needle is not immensely practical for something that small, so I bought myself some KnitPro Cubics. Now, I am a knitter of slender means, so the price of the Cubics (I paid £7.95 for my pair from Love Knitting) made me wince, but I was intrigued. Needles that are… square? Is it heresy?
When I pulled the Cubics out of the bag of goodies I’d ordered, I was immediately struck by their colour, which reminded me of rosewood. I’m not sure if they’re actually rosewood (the KnitPro site mentions birch) but they look the part and are luxurious to behold. As I’ve come to expect from KnitPro, the needles were perfectly straight and the surface was free from defects. I particularly like the clear size labelling on the head of the needle as I would be terrified of them getting wedged in a needle gauge due to the shape.
The size I went for was 3.5 mm (in order to knit the Deramores Dinosaurs patterns, like this adorable Pterodactyl) and I was worried that they would be a bit fragile being so small. Upon closer inspection, I also learned that the point of the needles has a round cross-section which gently tapers from the square body of the needles. It may sound obvious, but I honestly wasn’t sure if they would have a square tip! To test their strength, I gently bent them and was relieved to find that they have a fair bit of flex in them and spring back into shape quickly. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how on earth knitting with these things was supposed to work and, of course, the old trick where you roll a needle between thumb and finger to gauge the size of the needle was clearly not going to work with these!
Whipping out some scrap DK acrylic yarn I started to cast on a quick swatch – 20 stitches x 20 rows with a two stitch and two row garter border all round. The Cubics felt all kinds of wrong at first (not as wrong as velvet… ugh) but once I got used to the idea, I found that the needles were pleasingly easy to control and actually made casting on using my preferred knit-on method much easier. Normally, especially with straights, the first few stitches are a bit awkward, but the Cubics seemed to give me some extra control. Knitting the rest of the swatch was uneventful and I found that I had good control over the yarn whilst knitting. The Cubics are also warm (like any wooden needles) which was helpful for the hand pain that I suffer due to my fibromyalgia and made the experience quite enjoyable.
Fast forward a week or so and I suddenly realised that my Dad’s birthday was coming up. I covered the teddy that I made for him here so I’ll just talk about the experience of using these needles. The pattern involved both increases and decreases and I found that the point of the Cubics was sharp enough to handle decreases without issue, which is a problem that I’ve had in the past with wooden needles. However, the point of the Cubics (especially one of the pair) was also sharp enough to be very stabby and I found my right index finger was getting quite sore at the end of extended sessions. Again, this is a problem that I’ve had in the past, but it’s not something I get with my Karbonz or Zing needles. The taper from the body of the needle to the point is just the right length to allow control of stitches, although I did find the needles to be a little stickier than I’m used to. This may be because I’ve been using Zing needles a lot recently, but I found myself getting a little frustrated trying to move stitches around at first. I have had a pair of Symfonie tips in the past that behaved like this and it seemed to get better with use.
One big surprise I got on this project was the looseness of my tension – normally I knit like I’m defusing the Megaton bomb – but with these my tension was so loose that some of the stuffing poked through on the bear! I looked at the swatch I had made and realised I should have seen it coming, my tension is loose enough on the test swatch that it has drape, even though the needles are much smaller than recommended. On the KnitPro site, they mention that Cubics are good for people with arthritis and I can see why – you don’t seem to need as much of a death grip on these.
So, in conclusion, what do I think about KnitPro Cubics? Well, overall, I liked them – I felt like I had more control over my knitting and they were both warm to the touch and comfortable to hold. They did do strange things to my gauge – the project I bought them for is now being done with other needles because these needles just wouldn’t create a firm enough fabric to get a good result, but I won’t hold that against them. I think that these needles (which also come in fixed/ interchangable circulars) would be superb for knitting lace as they are shaped to hold the stitches still whilst you work on the project and, in my case, they encourage a drapey fabric. Now on to my reservations. I was planning on buying needles for socks in this range, but I was worried that they would be a bit fragile for the abuse that I throw at my sock needles (sitting on, crushing into a bag, hurling against a wall…) and I have heard reports of some breakages in the smaller sizes. In addition, I find the price a bit prohibitive. Whilst there is no doubt that the needles are well made and worth the money, I can’t throw that kind of money about for a wooden needle that I would be paranoid about breaking. The only reason I have the (even more expensive) Karbonz is that I could back a Tiger II Heavy Tank over them and they would most likely be fine! However, if you are looking for something a bit different, or if you have problems with your hands, then I think the KnitPro Cubics are definitely worth a look due to their comfortable grip and generally being more forgiving.
KnitPro Cubics are available as straights, fixed circulars, interchangeable tips and DPNs. I got mine from Love Knitting.