On my last trip up to Belfast Mini Mills... I saw these fabulous wooden knitting needles! The company is Woody Knitters, and the needles are handmade here on PEI.
I had been wanting some smaller (both in diameter and in length) wooden needles, as I have read that they are excellent for lace knitting. The wood is smooth, but grips the lace thread so nicely. Also, the needles are so feather light, and very warm in your hands. I have tried bamboo dpns before, and they were ok... I didn't appreciate the bendy feeling of working with them. I tried a pair of ebony wood Lantern Moon needles also, but for socks, they just didn't work for me. I broke 2 of the set before I finished an entire sock. They looked lovely, but didn't hold up to my rough travel-knitting needs.
For lace however, I am very pleasantly surprised at how much I like the wooden needles! These are a 3 mm diameter set, made from Ramen Wood, with a bead top. The wood is silky smooth, finished with Tung oil. This set is 12 inches long, so just perfect for my build. (I think maybe short people have short arms too! The standard 14 inch steel needles I use feel like they are too long for me to be comfortable)
I've tried a few samples now on these needles, and I find them quite enjoyable to use... and here's why:
- Sharpness: The tips are just the right level of pointy. For fine lace work with even finer thread yarns, a fairly pointy tip is required for manipulating the stitches properly. I've done various stitches, including K3tog in Orenburg-style stitches, and Nupp stitches in Estonian style samples.
- Flexibility: For lace knitting (where presumably the knitting stays put, in one location from start to finish, unlike socks, that travel in various states of completion for a month in purses and bags for on-location knitting) a little bit of flexibility is okay! The bendy nature that I hated in sock needles, was not a problem in lace knitting. Where you are only knitting back and forth, and not in the round with all of it's requisite twisting and manipulation, that slight "give" makes the process less rigid and actually more enjoyable!
- Grip: Steel needles are tough, they don't break, but they are very slippery. The smooth finish results in stitches sometimes slipping off. Have you ever sneezed in the middle of a lace repeat, only to have a half a dozen stitches slip off one or both needles? Have you ever dropped a stitch in the middle of something complicated and have to try and pick it back up? Wooden needles, though smooth in their own right, are just that teensy bit Grippier than the steel needles, and seem to result in less stitch-slippage. The thread moves cleanly along the needles, stitches behaving as they should, but I am finding that I drop fewer stitches, and have less accidental stitch frustration
- Weight: Compared to the steel needles I had been using... these needles feel like they hardly weigh anything! I used to find that holding up the heavier needles, at sometimes uncomfortable angles, to try and create more complex stitch patterns - that I would get sore shoulders, or tired arms. Not so with the wooden ones. The length might also have something to do with that though... The size and weight are just more comfortable for some reason.
Of course, there are a few drawbacks... I bet I could snap these toothpicks quite easily, if I wasn't careful. And also, I'm not sure how durable they will be for many uses. Only time will tell, but I have really enjoyed them thus far, and have plans to use them for my first Haapsalu Shawl (Beautiful Estonian Lace) as soon as I can get the yarn spun :)
All in all, the best 14 bucks I've spent in a long time!
If you would like more information about this brand of needles, please let me know... I don't think they have a website, but I do have an email address to share if anyone would like to contact the maker!