Monday, September 17, 2012

Circular Knitting Needle Review

The other day I was knitting with an expensive pair of circulars and getting incredibly frustrated with bad joining of the needle and cable.  I'm knitting a laceweight sweater, so that's a lot of stitches to have to pick over the joining.  When I saw the needles, it was love at first sight.  It was a type of needle we don't sell in the store, so I picked up a set with the excuse of using them for market research.   When I knit with them, I was horribly disappointed, they are the worst non-bargain-brand circulars I have ever knit with, AND the most expensive.  Last night I was struggling with my knitting, and thinking about how it's possibly doubling my knitting time, and how I couldn't wait to get to the store in the morning to swap the needles out for some that didn't make me want to stab my eyes out.  This gave me the idea of doing a knitting needle review. We choose our products based on quality more than anything else.  We don't want junk in our store, even if it is in demand.  There are some products that we don't personally care for, but we still carry higher quality versions of it.  We try to dance that fine line between quality and cost, and while we may have some fairly pricey yarns/products in the store, we try really hard to have quality goods at affordable prices.  So while the needles I was trying out were beautiful, expensive, and in demand, we likely won't carry them in the store, because the product just isn't good enough.  

I'm going to rate each needle type based on some basic characteristics and throw in some pros and cons, etc.  Today is all about circulars, if people seem interested in this and there is a good response, I'll rate other types of needles/products in the future.

Here are the characteristics 

Cord Suppleness - 1 being so stiff it would be ideal for installation sculptural pieces, 5 being so bendy and free it's probably on valium

Tip Sharpness - 1 being so dull as to be toddler safe, 5 being sharp enough to be used as a surgical tool in an emergency.

Tip Texture - 1 being rough, horrible, or icky, 5 being smoother than Isaac Hayes singing Shaft

Cable/Tip join - 1 having to pick each and every f*%!ing stitch over the join, 5 Join?  What join?

HiyaHiya Stainless Steel Circular Knitting Needles and Sharps

Synopsis: HiyaHiya Needles are our main store brand.  With the gazillion needle sizes vs cable length, it's really difficult (not too mention expensive!) to have a full range of multiple needle types in stock.  HiyaHiya is our go-to needle that mixes good quality with affordable prices.  

Price Range: $7.89-$11.25

Available at electrictree yarns - Yes

Made in: China

Cord Suppleness: 4  It's pretty good, I've never had any problems with it, they do tend to have a bit of a memory, so when you store your needles-make sure you don't put any weird bends or knots in them as it will take a while to work them out again.

Tip Sharpness: 3.5/5  Not too bad for the regular Stainless Circulars, I wish the thicker needles were just a bit sharper though.  The HiyaHiya Sharps are the sharpest needles I have ever used!  Great for nupps and k3tog tbl.

Tip Texture: 4 Pretty darn smooth

Cable/Tip Join: 4 Barely noticeable, but there is a little ridge, if it wasn't there it'd be a 5.

Pros: Good price, and great quality for the cost.  Comes with a free gift (usually a stitch marker or cable needle).  Also comes in 9" for socks and mittens.  

Cons: Not as pretty as some needles, size etching on needles tends to wear off.  If your cable gets a kink, it's hard to work out.  

Personal Notes: One of my favourite needles.  It's no coincidence we carry them in-store, I think they are fantastic for the price.  You could buy a more expensive needle, but you would be paying double the price for something that is only 10% better.  

HiyaHiya Bamboo Circular Needles

Synopsis: HiyaHiya Bamboo Needles use a special variety of Bamboo that is harder and has less texture than lower priced bamboo needles (you know, those ones that are like disposable chopsticks...)  

Price Range: $7.75-$11.25

Available at electrictree yarns - Yes

Made in: China

Cord Suppleness: 4  Same cord as the Stainless Needles.

Tip Sharpness: 3

Tip Texture: 3.5 The smoothest bamboo needles I have ever used.  

Cable/Tip Join: 3.5 I have noticed that in the larger sizes the join is a little bit more noticeable, although I am really picky.  

Pros: Good price, and great quality for the cost.  Comes with a free gift (usually a stitch marker or cable needle).  Also comes in 9" for socks and mittens.  

Cons: Not as pretty as some needles.  If your cable gets a kink, it's hard to work out.  

Personal Notes: I am not a bamboo needle user, I prefer to use a much faster needle.  HiyaHiya Bamboo needles, are the only Bamboo needles I have ever used that I don't hate.  They are very smooth, yet have that little bit of gription.  Perfect for silk or other slippery yarns.

Knit Picks Harmony Classic Circular Needles

Synopsis:  Previously only available online through, Knit Picks now wholesales needles and other accessories.  The needles are coloured and laminate birch wood with a purple cord

Price Range: $7.98-10.98

Available at electrictree yarns - yes (we also have the interchangeables)

Made in: India

Cord Suppleness: 5 These cords are fantastic!

Tip Sharpness: 4 Pretty sharp for wood, and unlike most needles, the tip sharpness doesn't decrease as the size increases!

Tip Texture: 4 It's smooth and delightful!  

Cable/Tip Join: 5 Wonderful, one of the best joins I have seen.

Pros:  They are pretty, well made, and inexpensive.

Cons: The cable length range available in wholesale is really limited.  Anything over 3.5mm is only available in a 16"/40cm cable. 

Personal Notes: I made the mistake of listening to someone who said that Knit Picks Harmony needles were no good and cheap, so I didn't use them for years.  When I finally got a chance to try them, I felt sad that I had missed out on years of knitting with these fabulous needles.  

Addi Turbo

Synopsis:  Addi Turbos are widely considered to be the best needles out there.  There are many knitters out there that only use Addi's because for them, they are the best.

Price Range: $17.90-$29.90

Available at electrictree yarns: 12mm 32inch is kept in stock, all other sizes are by special order, usually arrives within 3-4 business days.  

Made in: Germany

Cord Suppleness: 5 The cord is perfect!

Tip Sharpness: 3.5 I like sharp needles, so I could wish they were sharper, but they do have a line of Lace Circulars and they are must sharper.

Tip Texture: 5 The smoothest needle I have ever used.

Cable/Tip Join: 4  I would have given it a 5 but I have noticed that sometimes the needles kink right at the join, and this is impossible to fix.  (It is still totally usable when this happnes, it just drives my OCD crazy!)

Pros:  Best cable out there, all Addis have a lifetime warranty, so if there's anything wrong with your needle EVER you can return it and get a new set.  There's no special system for this, I myself have returned a set and had not trouble at all.  Addis also go up to insanely huge needle sizes, 25mm even!!  

Cons: The price, Addis are not in the price range of many needles.  The extreme smoothness of the needles is a bonus for some, but for others it may make repetitive motion injuries worse if you find you need to grip your knitting harder to keep your stitches from sliding off.  

Personal Notes:  I like Addis, I own the Clicks and several sets of the fixed circulars.  I don't use them in the larger sizes because I have found they are so slippery my hands get sore, but that's just me.  They're definitely the fastest needles I have ever used.  

Lantern Moon Destiny Circulars

Synopsis:  Lantern Moon Destiny Circulars come in a range of exotic woods and brass end caps.  They are beautiful and decadent looking.  

Price Range: 26.25-$32.15

Available at electrictree yarns: no

Made in: Vietnam

Cord Suppleness: 4, pretty good comparable to HiyaHiya

Tip Sharpness: 2.5

Tip Texture: Depends on which wood you choose.  Rosewood and Ebony are about a 4, Slate is about a 2.5, it is the roughest and slowest of all the higher quality needles I have tried.  

Cable/Tip Join: 2  Now to be fair, I have only tried knitting with one set of these needles, so it is possible I got a bad set, but the join was horrible for laceweight.  It may be better for heavier yarns, but you should be able to knit laceweight with a 3.5mm needle.  The join is so bad, that it has increased my knitting time by at least 50%

Pros:  Extremely beautiful needles.  When you are buying them, you are helping a family in Vietnam.  

Cons: Slow to knit with (for the Slate needles) and the join...I can not get over how bad it was.  For $26.25, it should be at least a 3.5

Personal Notes: Unless someone gives me a set of these as a gift, I will probably never knit with these again. 

That is the end of my little review.  Let me know what you think and if this info is useful to you.  Also, if there is any other attribute or info that you think should have been included, let me know about that too!  

Monday, July 23, 2012

How Does One Follow Up the Shawl of Doom?

    The title says it all.  The Shawl of Doom was this crazy international knitting ruckus, how on earth can I follow that up?!  That's a lot of pressure for a wee knitting blog!
    I'll start with talking about how the SoD is doing now.  It has 40 projects on Ravelry, at least 30 of them are really projects (not just crazy jokes.).  307 people have favourite the Shawl of Doom.  1878 people have downloaded it.  There are nearly 200 people in our SoD group.  These are the stats for SoD 2.0.  I don't know what most of the stats are for the original because it was deleted from the database.  
    The Shawl of Doom has been a real eye opener for me, a lot of crazy and stressful things happened because of it.  The great thing is that it ended well, and I am extremely happy with how things worked out!  I have some plans for future pattern hilarity, I don't want to give anything away so just know that you haven't seen the last of my doomish designs!

    Moving on to another subject that comes up fairly regularly for me-the look of the knitter.  What does a knitter look like?  When you imagine a knitter, what do you imagine?  Do you have a preconceived notion of the appearance of the average knitter?  I ask because I am often told that I don't look like a knitter.  I've been told many times that by looking at me, the last thing that is expected is that I co-own a knitting store.  It's something that comes up quite often in my little world, and it's been at the forefront of my mind a lot lately.  What's really interesting, is that most people who mention this to me, say the exact same thing.  I mean EXACTLY THE SAME.  Word for word.  "No offence, but you don't look like a knitter."  It's the "No offence" that puts me on guard, generally those two words precede something potentially offensive.  Should I be offended that they don't think I look like a knitter?  Do knitters look offensive?  What do knitter's look like?  Do I look like someone who is generally occupied by criminal activities and therefore has no time for the fibre arts?

Here is a little bit about me.

    I'm a regular performer at the Kamloops Burlesque Monthly showcase and recently have taken on the role of Co-Producer.  My stage name is Lizzie Borden.  As a solo performer I mostly sing, I also perform as the secondary role in other acts-this means I get to do a lot of fun stuff and I usually lean towards the comedy side of burlesque.  I do not do what is known in the burlseque world as "Full Reveal", there are no tassels in my future.

I'm a knitting designer.  The Shawl of Doom being the most famous, but I also do regular stuff too.  

I'm a strength competitor.  This is a recent development.  I did Femsport this year and it was so much fun.  More recently I competed in the Highland Games and I LOVED IT!  Eventually I would like to work my way up to Strong Woman competitions.  

I love playing softball.  I didn't really play sports outside of Gym class growing up and have discovered I really like team sports and athletics.  I'm not the best ball player, but I have a darn good swing.  

I'm co-owner of a local yarn store with my Mumsy as my business partner. 

I'm a Mom.  

I'm an artist.

I love to cook. 

I have lots of tattoos.  

I love to knit.  

I have strong opinions and am not afraid to voice them.  I stand up (very vocally) for what/who I believe in.  I have this terrible habit of shooting down people with big egos in a very obvious and public way (albeit accompanied by hilarity.)  I have a university degree.  I love to read science fiction and fantasy novels.  My television/movie viewing very definitely leans towards the geek.  

Apparently all of these things add up to "you don't look like you knit."  I do understand the initial reaction, I really do.  The slight level of disbelief at the socks I pull out of purse and start knitting doesn't really phase me.  What I don't understand is the continued surprise, the insistence that I don't look like a knitter, the continued questions and conversations as if it's all a sham and I don't actually knit, I'm just trying to trick everyone.  Sometimes it gets to the point of "But why?  Why would you knit?!"  

It's simple.  Knitting makes me happy.  It makes me feel productive.  It's something that I have a real understanding for.  It gives me something to do so I don't go crazy.  It eliminates social awkwardness, if I'm around people I don't know (or don't want to know) I focus on my knitting.  I can take it everywhere with me.  The challenges never end, no matter how many techniques I learn, there are more to learn!  

When people ask me why I knit, I tell them:

"I knit so I don't kill people."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New SoD

The New Shawl of Doom can be found here!

If you've been following the controversy at all, you know it's been a really hot topic for some people.

For those that haven't been following...

Original Shawl of Doom is posted on Ravelry.
In about 20 hrs, the Shawl of Doom goes crazy viral.  By 24 hrs it is number one on the Hot Right Now board and has nearly 2000 downloads.
Shawl of Doom pattern gets summarily pulled from Ravelry with no explanation.
Discussion, debate, and disagreement ensues on main editing boards, several forums, and through personal messaging between me and a Ravelry Founder.
A group is started to support the pattern
Numberous messages are sent to me and Ravelry re: Shawl of Doom (both positive and negative, although the ones sent to me are overwhelmingly positive)
Eventually an agreement to disagree is reached and I receive permission to post a new pattern.
New pattern is posted here.
New pattern is doing very well, is currently 1st on the Hot Right Now Board and has been really well received!!!

There is SO much more to this.  So many opinions that I could throw around, and a whole lot of impassioned soliloquy I could present right now.  I don't think that I can handle that kind of emotional rollercoaster right now.  I can't even describe what a crazy ride it has been.  If your curiousity is getting the better of you, you can search the forums, aside from some personal messages most of it is out in the open for anyone to see.

I can't even describe how it's felt to have one of my designs for #1, only to have it taken down and told there is no chance of it returning.  To then be given the chance to put one up again, and have that go #1 as well.  it feels like I have accomplished so many things in such a short amount.  It was extremely stressful, and I lost a lot of sleep about it.  The great thing is the deletion process for patterns is being reviewed, and a lot of evolution of the system is being done right now, this can only benefit designers and users!

I have to thank everyone for all their love and support.  I couldn't have done it without all the help I have received from my friends, family and fans!  (Holy crap?!  Fans?!)  There is more knitting hilarity planned for the future and I hope that you will join me on this crazy ass knitting ride!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shawl of Doom Pattern

Here is the pattern for those of you that aren't on Ravelry.

The Shawl of Doom

When you look in the mirror do you feel a sense of disappointment and disgust? This pattern is for you! This interminable pattern is something that no one in their right mind would ever knit (says something about your personality that you are even considering knitting it, doesn't it?). Akin to self-flagellation, this pattern is ideal for those that have an extreme personality disorder that has self-loathing as a main symptom. Perfect for those that have no friends, no life, and have nothing better to do than knit stitch after stitch in a mindless haze. Nothing says “I hate myself” like knitting The Shawl of Doom! Also recommended as a back-handed gift to that knitter whom you love to hate!!!

Size: As large as you can stand making it. Who knows? How bad is your personality disorder?

Yarn: A minimum of 1600 yds of laceweight, up to 20,000 yds or more depending on your obsessiveness. Anything less than 1600 yds and you obviously don't hate yourself.

Needle Size: Maximum needles size 2.75 mm, anything larger and you don't really mean it.

Notions: Yarn needle for weaving in ends (assuming you make it that far).

Gauge: Really? Somebody would actually have to knit the damn thing and actually care enough to measure it. I mean think about it? Who really cares about gauge on this thing anyways, gauge assumes that you're actually going to finish the shawl at some point, and there's really no point in being so optimistic.

Pattern notes: This shawl is just a giant damn dishcloth. A monkey could knit it. 'Nuff said.


Cast on 4 disappointing stitches. The backwards loop method is the best/worst for this, it doesn't look very good and requires the least amount of effort.

Row 1: k4 (no too bad so far, eh?)

Rows 2-40: k2, yo, k all sts.

44 sts

Row 41: k2, yo, k all sts. Start feeling a cocky sense of accomplishment, start imagining yourself actually finishing the shawl and throwing it in the designer's face. 45 sts

Rows 42-80: k2, yo, k all sts.

84 sts

Row 81: k2, yo, k all sts. Like a crystal meth addict, start believing that you can do anything. 85 sts

Row 82-147: k2, yo, k all sts.

151 sts

Row 148: k2, yo, doggedly k all sts, because by gum, you're going to finish this thing and you're going to LIKE IT!!!! 152 sts

Rows 149-200: k2, yo, k all sts.

204 sts

Row 201: Come to the realization that you now have over 200 sts a row, you are nowhere near done this shawl, and you probably never will be. Have a good cry. k2, yo, k all sts. 205 sts.

Row 202: k2, yo, k all the $%*ing sts. 206 sts

Row 203: k2, yo, k all the stupid *!#king sts. 207 sts

Row 204: k2, yo, k all sts. Stab yourself in the eye with your knitting needle because you'd rather spend 2 days in the hospital than knit another stitch on this piece of crap. 208 sts.

Row 205: Realize it's really easy to knit with monocular vision. Cry out of your good eye. k2, yo, k all sts. 209 sts.

Row 206: Start thinking that an eyepatch is pretty cool. Start feeling misplaced sense of optimism. K2, yo, k all sts. 210 sts.

Row 207: k2, yo, k all sts. Believe that knitting this isn't so bad after a 2 day break in the hospital. 211 sts

Rows 208-234: k2, yo, k all sts. Realize that garter stitch is for douche bags. 238 sts.

Rows 235-302: k2, yo, k all sts.

Row 303: k2, yo, k all sts. Cheat on your spouse. Use divorce court proceedings as knitting time.

Rows 303-363: k2, yo, k all sts. Try to look like a victim during divorce court (the knitting really helps with the image) 367 sts.

Row 364: Realize that you'll never finish this stupid $#%ing shawl and throw it into a deep dark pit.

Row 364: Realize that you HAVE to finish it, because if you don't it means that you are horrible person with no hope in life.

Row 364: Retrieve shawl from pit and clutch it to your chest while rocking gently back and forth and scream “WHY?!” over and over again in a corner of your basement.

Row 364-372: k2, yo, k all sts. 376 sts.

Row 373: Realize you skipped row 364, rip your work back and redo rows 364-372. 376 sts.

Row 373: k2, yo, k all sts. 377 sts.

Row 374: Start thinking row 303 might have been a mistake in the pattern simply because you could really use some support right now. k2, yo, k all sts. 378 sts.

Row 375: Throw it away. Burn it. Throw it off a cliff. Give it to a homeless dude. Perform an exorcism. Unravel sections of it. Cut it up with scissors. Use it as a toilet paper replacement. ANYTHING SO THAT YOU NEVER HAVE TO SEE IT AGAIN.

Row 375-: k2, yo, k all sts.

Bind off for days and !&*ing days.

Weave in ends.


Shawl of Doom goes viral

So...the Shawl of Doom.   (click picture to embiggen)

    I made this pattern for fun, and it was a blast to write.  I didn't think it would do what it did.  I honestly didn't.  I knew it would be popular.  I knew people would get a kick out of it.  I didn't think it would go crazy viral.  (or craycray as my dear friend Amy would say.)
    I had hopes that in a couple days enough people would have enjoyed it to possibly make page 1 of the Hot Right Now board on Ravelry, perhaps comfortable sitting at #28 or 29.  I imagined patting myself on the back and feeling proud of writing something humourous that other people had a chance to enjoy and get a laugh out of.  (Yes, I ostensibly use "ou" in place of "o" whenever possible whether it's correct or not-I am THAT Canadian.)
    I didn't think that I would get to #6 on the Hot Right Now board (as of 10:30AM PST June 1st, 2012).  I didn't think that at this point, it would have 900 unique downloads.
    I didn't think that SO very many people would understand my kind of crazy.  The wonderful thing is that there is so much laughter and commiserating with this pattern that it's turning into a kind of therapy on it's own!
    And really, is there anybody out there that hasn't felt like this with a knitting project at some point?
    Thanks to everyone who faved, started a pattern, frogged it, and ughed it.  Special thanks to the Lovely Stephanie who through Facebook chat was my Muse on this pattern!  Her awesome version of the Shawl of Doom can be found here
    Honestly, I am so flabbergasted I can't even think of anything funny to say.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Shawl of Doom

New electrictree pattern available on Ravelry!  Check it out here

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Yarn Bombiness

The yarn bombing is going swimmingly.  Just to add to some of the excitement we've been doing a little pre-bombing before the BIG BOMB!  If you are interested in joining us on our yarnextravaganza check out the info here.  

Some locals have bee doing some great yarn bombing projects!

This statue in front of city hall is much warmer in the evenings. 

Some intrepid knitter attacked the bike rack in front of the library.

Here's the meter in front of our store.  

Friday night "somebody" attacked a patio on Victoria St.  

The Kamloops Daily News did a really fantastic article on our activities! 

We are so excited about doing some major bombing next week!