So let me get started by saying that I'm a bit of a needle snob. My joins must be smooth, snags will drive me to madness, and stiff clunky cords do not a happy bird make. Like most knitters I started out with those metal stakes - the ones you could kill with - from Walmart. I then moved on to wooden single points, then to aluminum circulars, then to bamboo circs, and finally to my holy grail - Addi' Turbos. Those sinfully slick needles with the smooth joins that make laceweight yarn just sigh in delight. Especially that sticky Kidsilk Haze stuff.
I never thought that anyone would come close to testing my love of Addi Turbo's and at an average of $16 bux a pop with a fixed length - it can get pretty pricey to collect the sizes and lengths for all the projects that you might have brewing in your head.
As far as interchangeables go - Denise ruled the roost for a really long time. Handy case? Check. Decent range of sizes and lengths? check. Easy snap and turn joins? Check. Reasonably priced at about $50 for a kit - you get 10 sizes from 5 to 15, and lots of options for lengths with the connectors they provided for the cords they come with. Very nice customer service also - if you had a problem with a needle it would get replaced toute suite. I was really pleased with my set of Denises for a long time. For mid range needle size projects - usually with thicker yarn that did not tend to snag - they were perfect.
At least... till now.
Lets look at them section by section shall we?
I had very few complaints about my Denise Interchangeables. The case was nice but leaving the cords in the case and pulling them out to use for projects, they kept the kinks from the case, and trying to bend them in the opposite direction to straighten them out was annoying. Some more industrious knitters regularly dip the cords in hot water to soften them. The thickness of the cord was a distraction. It not only holds kinks but it is rather inflexible. The thickness also limits how small the needles can go also.
Even Addi Turbos do not have perfect cords. Ever look at how it keeps curling after sitting coiled into a circle in the package for a while? That being said - I'd take the super thin Addi's cords over Denises.
Knit Pick's Options does not have much memory at all so coil it up to your hearts content and they will still hang straight if you pick it up. They are also very thin like Addi's and are quite flexible. I would say they are superior to both Addi's and Denises.
In my world - the joins make or break a set of needles. Its got to be smooth and especially with the sticky bitchy yarns like Kidsilk Haze. Lovely yarn, beautiful, ethereal, but moody as hell. Life is too short for bad joins.
Denise's joins are by far the worst out of the three. I get stuff snagged on those joins all the time and unless I'm using a very easy going wool it can get ugly. I love lace knitting, but not on Denise's. No thank you. I started Butterfly on Denise's... and it stalled after the edging for months, and moving them to Knitpick's Options needles has rejuvenated that project for me. The twist and click join is kind of neat and definately is quite secure - but its just not smooth enough.
Addi's joins are like silk - no complaints here.
Knitpick's joins are interesting. The cord has a threaded metal top that screws into the bottom of the hollow needles which makes for a nice secure and SMOOTH join. They give you a little metal pin to tighten it further just for extra security if you dont finger tighten well enough. I've never needed to myself. They are as smooth as Addi's - and Kidsilk Haze slides right over them with nary a snag.
TIPS and Shafts:
The big difference to note here is that the Knitpick's Options are much pointier than both the Denise and the Addi's. This is great for people who like to knit lace, or anything where precision is a must. Depending on how you knit - some Continental knitters use the pads of their middle finger to keep stitches on the needle, or to help wrap their yarn. If you do this you might regularly get poked by the tip. Its not needle sharp or anything - but it can be annoying. This would be my only setback for the Knit Picks set, and I was able to adjust my own Continental knitting enough so that it didnt bother me.
The shaft is very light on the KnitPicks, similar to the Addi's. I believe they are both hollow.
Denise's needle case is quite handy and they mark their needle sizes which makes it easy to pick out which size you need, and some people even knit with two difference sizes cause their tension varies enough to require it.
Addi's - you buy these one by one so theres no pre-made case for these. Some people make circular needle cases out of fabric, and another popular one is the Circular Solution. The size and length of the needle is usually printed on the cord - get your magnifying glass out to be able to read it though.
Knitpicks Options comes with a nice little black zippered organizer case - think Franklin-style organizer. Its got plastic ziplock pockets on the inside that you can put your needles and cords and organize as you like. Here's my one disappointment with the Knitpicks - the needles are NOT imprinted with the size, and the cords are NOT imprinted with the length. The default Option's kit does not come with the Needle size ID tags. I just went and used a sharpie marker on the plastic pockets to mark what sizes I was putting into where. That being said - the organizer is quite nice and doesn't look cheaply made.
The Knitpicks Kit rocks.
At $59.99 - the basic kit includes sizes 4 through 11, two each of cords in 24" and 32" lengths, the case, end caps (for turning them into single points), and plastic sleeves to go into your case.
HOWEVER - and this is the coolest thing to me - if you rarely use sizes 9-11 and you often have several size 5 projects going (me! me!) - you can customize the kit. You can buy the needle sizes you want and build the kit yourself. The cables are $3.99 in lengths from 24" to 60" (magic loop a sleeve anyone?) and the needles range from $3.99 for the smallest size 4 to $6.99 for the 17s. I love the joins, the cords are so flexible and dont kink up, and I prefer the pointier needles. They are a fantastic buy and the quality of the needles well exceeds the Denise's.
If you were to go and buy all Addi's in all the sizes in the Options Kit - in both lengths - you'd be looking at :
$16.00 per Addi (on average) x 2 cord lengths x 9 sizes = $288 not including shipping! The Knitpick's kit is an absolute steal in comparison.
My wish list for KnitPicks:
- Smaller needles sizes - I still have to go to Addi for sock yarn sized needles
- MARK your needle and cord sizes. Not imprinting the sizes on them seems kind of shoddy work or give away the Needle ID tags for free.