A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try the new Knitpro ‘Spectra’ needles (known as Knitpicks Zephyr in the US). Widely anticipated by the knitting crowd, many people have been eager to give these needles a go. So far the reception seems to be good. Many people regard these new additions to the Knitpicks/Knitpro brand as a lightweight and comfortable (and relatively inexpensive) alternative to the other needle collections offered by the company – the wooden ‘Symfonie’ needles (sold as ‘Harmony’ in the US) and the nickel-plated ‘Nova’ range (sold as ‘Options’ in the US) have been popular for some time now. I have very much enjoyed using my wooden Knitpro interchangeable for the last 12 months, and was looking forward to this addition to my little collection and as the tips for the interchangeable set fit on the same cords as both of the other ranges, so it gives perfect opportunity to pick up a single pair of tips for experimentation.
I had a minor set-back in that I managed to run out of yarn a few days after receiving my needle tips, so I had a few days to sit and admire them. Aesthetically they are pleasing – many people will find the clear acrylic helpful when working with dark yarns or with tired eyes. At first inspection the tips did not seem all that lightweight to me, so thought I’d see just how lightweight they were. I called upon my trusty precision electronic scales and found that a pair of 5.5mm plastic Spectra tips weighs in at 11g, as opposed to 6.8g for the wooden Symfonie tips of the same size – so nearly double the weight of the wooden tips. What else could I examine without yarn? OK – flexibility. Well, I can feel there is a little bit of ‘give’ in them, but they don’t feel as flexible as, for example, the old Denise interchangeable set I used to own. And now I have run out of things to examine. I’ll just sit here and look at them. Maybe I can make a mobile out of them?
Fast forward not very much time, but what seems like a lifetime when you cannot knit, and some yarn has come into my possession. I am extremely lucky, and humble. A kind and thoughtful Raveller, whom I shall not embarrass by naming, (but lets just say I think she is Smashing), has sent me the most winsome parcel I have ever received, full to the brim with all sorts of wonderful yarn. Time to cast on!
So, I’m knitting with a pair of 3.5mm tips and some 4-ply merino – just to give the tips a try. The first thing I notice is how ‘grabby’ these tips are. Far more than any other needles I have tried, in my own opinion. This may be a boon when knitting with slippery, hard to control yarns, but with this merino it is slowing my knitting considerably, and I can now appreciate the flexibility that people have been mentioning – in the smaller diameter needles at least. I’m not sure if it is helping or hindering my knitting. I’m having to stop every few stitches to coax the left hand needle stitches along the needle with my thumb. As they reluctantly shuffle down the needle, the friction is causing micro-vibrations in the needle. It is a strange sensation to start with, but (and perhaps I am particularly sensitive to things like this) after a short while it becomes bothersome, and I have to stop as my hand is numb. I’m not feeling too good anyway, so I put them away to try again another time… And that’s where I’ll pick up from tomorrow…