Seems like about once a month I get a reminder as to why I decided on HiyaHiya interchangeable needles rather than the KnitPicks I had been leaning towards. Usually I’m lucky enough to have it be by way of a Ravelry post, and I just feel vicarious relief that I’ve never had a needle randomly separate, dumping a shawl’s worth of stitches into my lap.
KnitPicks is like the Walmart of the knitting world. There are plenty of people who are satisfied with their stuff, but generally the only thing they rave about is their prices. And generally, rock-bottom prices come at the expense of quality. And, like Walmart, KnitPicks’ return policy is generally pretty liberal. (The exception being, of course, if you bought one of their products at a LYS. I have a feeling you could buy a 5-pack of Fruit-of-the-Looms at a yard sale for a dollar, shit yourself wearing them, and then get $5.96 for them at Walmart. But I’ll get to that.)
Back at the beginning of the year, I did a lot of research on what kind of interchangeable needles I wanted to buy. I already had a fixed KnitPicks fixed that I used for socks, but I had read a lot of horror stories about the needle joins coming apart or unscrewed (or just breaking outright). I eventually decided on Knitters Pride, but they were backordered into oblivion, so I went, sight-unseen, with HiyaHiyas. It meant I had to order two different sets (well, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to have the full range of sizes), and deal with a shipping fiasco from Fabric.com, but I eventually wound up very pleased with my purchase. HiyaHiyas are super smooth, the cables swivel, and the tips screw in and tighten with grips, which is a definite advantage over KnitPicks and the other types of needles that tighten with a key. When the HiyaHiyas are coming loose (which has happened to me once, and only because I didn’t use the grippers to fully tighten in the first place), there’s a gap between the cable and the barrel that catches the stitches, so you have plenty of warning. Not only that, but they offer different tip lengths (which is good for bigger hands) and a better range of sizes (theirs go down to US 2, where most interchangeable sets stop at US 4).
I still wanted to try those laminated wooden needles and see how they compared to the slickness of metal versus the grip of bamboo. I also wanted to buy them locally, because the idea of paying $4 for shipping on a 1-oz item that already cost $9 was not really appealing to me. (At the time, I was still reluctant to shop on ebay. I have since remedied the situation and bought, among other things, a Knitters Pride US 1½ for $8.50 and free shipping. Great Job, Internet.) One of the shops nearby that I had wanted to visit had KnitPicks needles, but it wasn’t until I got there that I realized they only sold wooden Harmonys as a set. Their individual needles were all metal Options.
But I was there (and I had driven the half an hour), and I wanted to support a LYS, so I bought one in a size I needed, which I later used to try and make a pair of socks. I hadn’t even gotten down the cuff all the way before the needles started squeaking, but I figured it was just the yarn I was using (a cotton/acrylic/nylon blend). It wasn’t until I went to use the needles for something else that I realized something wasn’t quite right – Cascade Heritage Silk should positively glide across the needles. I’d never had this issue with the Options I already owned, a US 1½ I’d had for over a year and made probably half a dozen things with.