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Taming Circular Needles:
The Della Q Que and Lexie Barnes Kitty
The Lexie Barnes Kitty closed
The Lexie Barnes Kitty closed

Circular needles have the same rebellious quality as a closet of wire coathangers. Unless you rule them with an iron fist, they will quickly get the upper hand. My needle stash is filled with countless duplicates that I bought because I just couldn't face hunting through the assorted masses of tangled circulars throughout my house.

Mind you I've tried to maintain order. I have some circulars dangling from an unusually large stitch holder. And I have a whole other set neatly packed in a soft tackle binder bag—although I've found that once I put them in the bag I'm loathe to take them out again since it ruins the perfect order.

At TNNA this January I found two softer, kinder, more colorful new circular needle cases and decided to take them both out for a simultaneous test.

The Que open
The Que
First we have The Que, a tri-fold fabric needle case from Della Q. The bag measures 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches when folded and tied shut. Inside you'll find 12 fabric sleeves, each sporting a flap with a red embroidered number on it to correspond to US needle sizes (they are 2-11, 13, and 15). Behind the pockets on the left side is a small lined zipper pocket for accessories.

Made in Vietnam of 100% silk, the Que comes in all sorts of bright colors and cheerful geometric patterns.

The flaps are all 6 inches wide but vary in depth from 4 inches to 4 3/4 inches. This doesn't coincide with the needle size on the flap, but rather the order in which they were sewn into the case. The flaps open along the left side and comfortably hold at least one circular needle.

I tried all sorts of needles ranging from super short cords to extremely long, from pointy lace to bulkier blunt-tipped, and they all fit. Depending on the length of the cord and the size of the needle, you could get two needles in there and perhaps three, but you may face a little tangle when you pull out the needle you want.

The Que open and full
I found it easiest to put in the needles cord-first and let the needle tips stick out of the flaps. It looks like this was the intended order because the pouch has additional fabric reinforcement along each fold line where the tips would rub against the case.

After you wrap the needle cord and put it in the pocket, most cords will naturally relax and start to open, creating a tension that helps hold the needle in the pocket. But the tension varies from needle to needle, and I found that different ones sat differently in their pockets. You'll want to open this case on a flat surface to avoid any risk of an unintentional tilt causing all the needles to slide out of their pockets.

The Que shut
I could only think of three potential drawbacks to this case, all of which depend entirely on your individual preferences. First, when chock full of needles, the bag still tied shut without problems—but the front edges started to curl up. Second, some knitters may find the fixed numbering system somewhat limiting, especially those who tend to use certain needle sizes more than others. And finally, the silk fabric is susceptible to snags and stains depending on how rugged you are with your tools.

The Que retails for $44 and can be purchased online at Fabulous Yarn, or you can find another retailer near you.

The Lexie Barnes Kitty
Lexie Barnes Kitty
Next we have the Lexie Barnes Kitty, a sporty case made from water-resistant fabric and with protective padding and dual-zipper closure. Also made in Vietnam, Kitty measures 15 inches by 5 inches when zipped shut.

The Kitty chock full of needles
Unzip it and you'll find 20 pockets inside, 10 on each side, plus a zippered compartment for smaller tools and accessories. Pockets are accessed from the top, rather than from the side.

Needles fit pretty snugly in their pockets, although many of the tips still poked out a little. The tight fit allows you to take your Kitty on a roller-coaster ride and have some confidence—depending on the ride, of course—that the needles will stay put.

I was able to get two, sometimes three circulars into each pocket, depending on the needle size and cable length. With 20 pockets, this means you could conceivably carry around 60 sets of circulars. Imagine!

zipped shut
I stuffed the case full of needles and zipped it shut without problem. The needles are staggered along the length of the case, so that it has no undue bulk. In fact, there was even room to pack more circulars and gadgets, although they'd spill out whenever you open the case.

I only see two potential shortcomings with this bag. First, the case is a wee bit too long to fit into my standard-sized messenger bag. Either I need to find a larger everyday computer/notebook/knitting bag or I'll need to stick with something smaller like The Que. And second, the funky Lexie Barnes patterns. Either you like them or you don't, but there's no solid backup option.

you can label each pocket
The case also comes with a pack of Lexie Barnes index cards that you can use to label each pocket—for example, according to needle size, cord size, material, mood, astrological sign, you name it.

The Kitty retails for $50 and comes in four signature Lexie Barnes fabrics, all of which have a decidedly contemporary, urban feel. You can buy directly from Lexie Barnes or find an LYS near you that carries it.

Choices, Choices
Both bags accomplish their goals well but with such decidedly different aesthetics that I really can't say one is better than the other. In comparing the two cases for yourself, here are some things to consider:

  • The size knitting bag you tend to use.
  • The size needles and cord lengths you tend to use.
  • The number of circulars you would like to carry around.
  • Whether you're more of a woven silk or smooth oilcloth kind of person.
  • Whether you tend to splash liquid on your stuff and would like to be able to wipe it off.
  • Whether you usually rifle through your needles while sitting peacefully in a chair or if you're more likely to do so while, say, racing down an icy mountain path in a luge.

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