Review: ChiaoGoo part 1 plus Distraction in Katia Camel Sock Yarn

I have been hearing lovely things about ChiaoGoo premium stainless steel knitting needles for some time now. My rep knows I’m a sock knitter and he has been encouraging me to test out the wee sock needles for over a year now. A few weeks ago, I had someone ask me about 40cm circular needles in fine gauges. Since Knitter’s Pride Dreamz (the main brand I carry) don’t come in those sizes, it leaves a gap; that sent me hunting. Today’s blog is part one based on the results from that search and a review of what I found.

ChiaoGoo makes those in-between needles that fill the gap that I just mentioned. So I figured I would order in the wee sock needles to try, as well as the sizes of 40cm circs to fill in the fine gauges that are not available in Dreamz. I figured I would test them out to see how I like them. I’m still in the process of testing the 40cm ones and I’ll fill you in on them in my next blog.

Today I want to talk about the sock circulars.

These needles are surgical stainless steel circulars. They have a smooth, satin-sheen finish and memory-free, multi-strand, steel cable cord coated with red nylon allowing yarn to slide right over the cord with ease. (…mostly a quote from ChiaoGoo)

I have a sock knitting customer in particular who brought in her Dreamz sock needles (the wee circs) to show me that she is actually wearing grooves into them. She knits a LOT of socks. I was astounded; I haven’t worn any of mine down so it surprised me to see this. I brought her in some Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina in the same style and she wore off the silver finish. That’s been floating in the back of my mind for a while. When I was looking at these ChiaoGoo needles it occurred to me that they may just fit the bill for her. Surgical Stainless Steel ought to be enough to stand up to this avid knitter. If she is wearing out wood needles, chances are other folks are as well. I haven’t called her to say these are in yet since they only just arrived. So I don’t have feedback from her yet.

Today is about my impressions of ChiaoGoo 23cm sock circs.

I cast on “Distraction” by Michelle Leanne Martin using Camel Sock yarn by Katia. The cast on was just what I would expect on this style of needle. It’s always a little awkward. No surprises there. They are very smooth. When I’m doing a complicated pattern with cables, twists and traveling stitches, I like to knit the socks one at a time on a wee circular. (Especially if they have a different chart for the front and back of the sock.) It’s just less confusing.

I truly have only good things to say about this needle. I used the 2.5mm. The cord is supple and moves nicely. The stitches never caught on the junction between needle and cord. I was anticipating that the stitches might slide a little too easily on the metal needle, but that was not the case. I did find the cord a little grabby on the yarn and maybe that’s why I didn’t find them to be as slippery as I expected. I was doing a lot of traveling stitches and I like a nice sharp tip when I’m doing this type of knitting. These were perfect for that. The length of the needle tip was what I expected for a product of this type. It was an absolute joy. I completed the sock on that needle and cast on the second one. Obviously, stainless steel needles don’t have the same warmth that wood needles have. I’ll continue using my Dreamz and I’m definitely adding this little beauty to my tool box!

Whenever I do complex geometric socks, this will be my new go-to.

Distraction is a well written pattern. It’s available on Ravelry as a free download. It is straightforward and easy to follow. As with any pattern of this complexity, I was grateful for my KnitCompanion App which allowed me to slide my vertical marker along as I worked the foundation rounds until the pattern began to emerge. Of course since I was knitting in the evening, that didn’t stop me from missing the cables in the ribbing on the first sock. Oops… I realized my error when I started the second sock. There’s no way I’m going back to change it. I figure: do like the Amish quilters who leave a mistake in their hand stitched quilts since after all, “Only God is perfect”. 🙂 I’m enjoying this project enough that I was inspired to check out Michelle’s other patterns. She’s got a lot to offer and I encourage any sock knitters to check her out.

Katia Socks – Camel is a blend of 55% wool, 25% polyamide and 20% camel. It comes in 100g balls with a gauge of 42 rows by 30 stitches in a 10cm square. It comes in a range of neutrals including grays, browns and blue. I chose gray (colour 74) for this project. I brought this yarn in because these are all the classy basic neutrals that you could want for men’s hand knit socks in one line of yarn. Katia yarns have never disappointed me and this yarn is no exception. It’s smooth, easy to knit and strong. The stitch definition is excellent and it gave me the result I expect from a high quality sock yarn. I love the resulting fabric. It has depth and personality despite being a neutral. And it’s soft. It feels so good. Full marks on this yarn!

A big thumbs up to this entire project. The needles: 2.5mm x 23cm Chiao Goo premium stainless steel circulars. The pattern: Distraction by Michelle Leanne Martin. The yarn: Katia Socks – Camel by Fil Katia of Spain.

I hope I have inspired you to try something new. See you again in 2 weeks. 🙂

Happy Knitting!

Knitting in the Round AHA! Moment

Are you someone who tried knitting in the round on two circular needles or using Magic Loop and struggled to figure out why on earth anyone would use either of these methods? Was your experience fraught with frustration? Did you decide that the person who suggested it to you was completely and utterly insane? I think I might know why… and it’s not you.

It’s interesting how you find a way that you like to do something and it turns out there’s more to it than you realized.

I have mentioned in previous posts that my preferred way to knit in the round is on two circular needles.

Depending on what it is, I will occasionally use the magic loop method as well. Always worked like a charm for me. Turns out it’s not just about the method itself. What I have discovered is that using the right needles for this method is vital.

I often see customers who are quite new to knitting.

They are looking for advice. I am happy to share my experience with them. I know a fair bit, but by no means do I know everything there is to know about knitting. I offer advice and I encourage them to embark on their own discovery mission on YouTube as well.

When people first approach knitting, they want to see whether they will like it before they invest a whole lot of money. Let’s face it, it’s easy to spend a whole lot of money on knitting! As a shop keeper, there is a very frugal part of me that wants to look out for them and help them to keep their initial costs down. If they discover that they fall in love with knitting, there’s lots of time for them to invest in top notch tools should they choose to. I carry a range of different brands of needles that have varied price points for that reason. Not everyone has a budget for the really nice ones.

After demonstrating them to customers, I invested in Knitter’s Pride Dreamz needles for my knitting, but didn’t really think about the fact that what makes these needles so lovely is also what makes it so easy to use them in varying ways. So when I encouraged people to try knitting in the round on circulars using either the 2-needle method or the magic loop method, it didn’t occur to me that a big reason that I love these methods is because my knitting needles make it easy to do so.

A customer came in, very frustrated, trying to hang in there with two circulars, knitting in the round. She pulled out her project and handed it to me. The look of defeat on her face broke my heart. I slid the working needle in place and before I even began to knit I knew her pain. The cords on her economy knitting needles were so stiff and so locked into the curled shape from being in the package that it was a nightmare to knit anything at all, especially with the second equally stiff circular needle insisting on always getting in the way. I pulled out my project, on two Knitter’s Pride Dreamz needles to show her the difference. I slid the stitches onto the working needle, passed it to her and suggested she give it a try. She took it in her hands and immediately understood what I was trying to demonstrate to her. The cords are light, supple and easily move out of your way without distorting the shape of the project. The second needle is barely noticeable as you work. After a brief discussion, she decided to get what she needed to have one long circular that she could use for Magic Loop method. This way she only needed to invest in one set of tips and one cord. She left happy and I learned something.

We hear it said all the time: ‘Use the right tool for the job.”

I have not used every knitting needle on the market by any stretch of the imagination. I assume that there are other brands besides Knitter’s Pride out there that also have light, supple, flexible cords on their circular knitting needles. Economy needles absolutely do the job. For anyone getting started they are a great way to keep your initial costs down until you decide whether you want to stick with knitting or not. High end needles glide differently, feel beautiful in your hands and make knitting more pleasurable. They really are worth the investment.

If you are unsure, ask your local yarn shop whether they have sample needles that you can try out in the store.