theraineysisters knitting and so much more

March 13, 2007

From Sally — Lace Needles

Filed under: Knitting Tips,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 3:36 pm

Gale asked: “Are you finding laceweight silk difficult to knit with? I am wondering about how it behaves on needles.” Funny you should ask — I was planning to write about the needles I was using but I wasn’t ready to because I was waiting to try a new pair. They came in the mail and I’ve been playing with them a little bit this afternoon.

As I mentioned in my earlier post this morning (please scroll down and read it too if you haven’t already), I worked myself into a mini-frenzy about which size needle to use with my very fine lace weight pure silk. I originally decided to use a U.S. 4 (3.5 mm), and that is what I used when I cast on the first time. I’m glad that I was forced to start over because the second time I went down a needle size, which was the right thing to do. (I’m now using a U.S. 3, which is a 3.25 mm.) In fact, I keep wondering whether I should have gone all the way down to a U.S. 2 (3.0 mm), but I think I’ll be okay.

Anyway, the needles you can see in this morning’s photographs are not Addi Turbos (my usual needle of choice). They are the Knit Picks needles. Now, I know that my first pair fell apart BUT those were some of the interchangeable needles. In sizes smaller than a U.S. 4, Knit Picks only makes non-interchangeable needles. In other words, they are constructed like a “normal” circular needle, all in one piece, and are fairly similar to an Addi Turbo. There are differences: the Knit Picks circular needle has a pointier tip than the Addi and the cord seems lighter and more flexible. Perhaps even more important, I noticed that something about the surface of the Knit Picks needle gave it more “drag.” It didn’t feel as slippery as the Addi Turbos and so the silk seemed to cling to it a little better. (As an aside — I would have used Addi Natura bamboo needles with the silk, but since I rarely knit with bamboo needles, I didn’t have any in the right size. I ordered some but, alas, I did that when I was still planning to use a size 4 needle. So I have some beautiful virgin Addi Naturas waiting for a project, but this one ain’t it.)

However, as many of you may know, Addi has just started making a circular needle specifically designed for lace knitting. So I ordered some of those, too. (What can I say? Knitting is about collecting and possessing, at least for me.) They came in the mail today. At first glance (and by first glance I mean at first ripping the package open as fast as I could), I thought they looked bigger and fatter than the Knit Picks needle. It’s an illusion caused by the color (they are gold); the tips fit through my needle sizer in exactly the same way. So, I knit a row, transferring the shawl to the Addi Lace needle to compare the two. That was a purl row, with no patterning, so I figured it wouldn’t tell me much and it didn’t. Here is a photo in mid-transfer, with a photograph of what I am making as a backdrop.

I’ve now knit part of a pattern row with the Addi Lace needles. Like the Knit Picks needles, the tip is relatively pointy (but it doesn’t jab me in the finger). The cord is very light and flexible — these would be good needles for the Magic Loop method of knitting. These needles are hollow, coated brass whereas regular Addis are nickel-plated. They have as much drag as the Knit Picks needle — maybe even a slight bit more. So, in most respects I would say that the Knit Picks and the Addi Lace needles are both great for silk and almost interchangeable. Almost. I give a slight edge to the Addi Lace needles because, based on these two pairs, the join on the Addis is noticeably smoother. It is, therefore, much easier to push the stitches up to the tip of the left needle when necessary.

Some photographs of the two different needles with no knitting on them. (The Addis are a 24-inch; the Knit Picks are a 32-inch. My Addi 32-inch Lace needles are in use on the shawl.)

Finally, to finish answering Gale’s question: the lace weight silk is interesting to knit with. It’s very slippery, and yet at the same time it has a kind of dryness that makes it sticky. What I mean by that is the yarnovers I make will often stick to the knit stitch that is next to it, so that I have to separate them on the following row. It’s not a big deal, but something to be aware of. It looks as if that is happening a bit less with the Addis, but I haven’t knit enough to know that for sure.

Now aren’t you sorry you asked?


  1. I’m glad she asked, because I have been contemplating buying some of the Addi Lace needles, and I guess
    you’ve answered all my questions.
    They are my needle of choice, and when I managed to break the tips on some, they cheerfully sent a replacement
    to me, no questions asked.

    Comment by Lorraine — March 13, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  2. Great skinny on the needles — now I know what to get for my birthday this month! I didn’t even know about Addi Lace needles….thanks for the scoop!

    Comment by Laura — March 13, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

  3. I remember Eunny Jang saying something in her blog last year about the wonderful dryness of some silk she knit into a shawl. Apparently great minds perceive alike!

    Comment by kmkat — March 13, 2007 @ 10:23 pm

  4. From Susan — did anyone else hear that Eunny Jang is the new editor of Interweave? Is it true?

    Comment by lv2knit — March 13, 2007 @ 11:07 pm

  5. Thank you Sally for the commentary. I’ve been hesitand about starting anything with the laceweight silk, so hearing from someone who is doing it now is a treat. Now, to locate some of those lace needles for my own self…

    For Susan: – the press release for Eunny’s appointment is on that page.

    Comment by Gale — March 14, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  6. Great analysis! The new Addis were available only from a couple of vendors at Stitches West last month and they sold out in less than a day, so I still have to find one. Addi Naturas are wonderful but in the smallest sizes, they can break off at the joint under even a little pressure. What a magnificent shawl pattern! it is going to be spectacular in red.

    Comment by Laura — March 14, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

  7. Thanks for comparing the needles. I am using Addis and KP needles in size 1, and also noticed a smoother join in the Addis. If it were just a little bit sharper…so it seems I am destined for the Addi lace needles!

    Comment by Kim — March 14, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

  8. I was too scared of the slipperiness of the metal addis and opted for wood. I have gotten use to the bump from how the wood is attached and like them.

    Comment by Terri Lynn — March 14, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  9. Thank you for the needle comparison. I hadn’t run across a review of the new Addi’s yet so I was glad to read yours. I’m anxious now to get my hands on a few sets myself now. I’m a fan of the Addi Natura too. They seem very delicate, but I haven’t had any trouble with broken tips yet.
    Happy blog anniversary by the way.

    Comment by Teri — March 14, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

  10. I said pretty much the same thing about the new Addi needles. Although a bit spendy, they’re worth every penny! Good thing is, there are lots more places to find them online now.

    Comment by Karen B. — March 15, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

  11. I really appreciate the needle review. I have been sitting on the fence, humming and hawing over which of these needles to try. It sounds like the Addis will be perfect for me because they are slightly less pointy.

    Comment by Melanie — March 17, 2007 @ 2:00 am

  12. I love my new Addi lace needles. I wish I’d had them for Icarus but better late than never!

    Comment by niteowl — April 2, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

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