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the teardrop-top 7 inch needle

Needle Profile:
Signature Needle Arts Single-Pointed Straight Knitting Needles

Needle tops

My first knitting needles were pink aluminum Boye straights that made an awful clanging noise every time I dropped them, which was pretty often. When I finally discovered that they made needles out of other materials, I took off and never looked back—until I received three sample pairs of needles from a new company called Signature Needle Arts.

A New Kind of Needle
Signature Needles are made in Wisconsin at a high-precision custom metal component manufacturer—a company that's been in business since 1950 and is now run by the founder's granddaughter, Cathy Bothe. And guess what? Cathy just happens to be an avid knitter. While most of us can only dream of making our own knitting needles, Cathy had all the equipment and expertise right there and ready to go.

Cathy has created the polar opposite of what we know as traditional aluminum knitting needles. The most telling difference is that they aren't made from one solid tube, they're made from three pieces: the body, the tip, and the end cap. And you get to choose which body, which tip, and which end cap you want.

Correction! I've been informed that the body and tip actually are made from one solid piece. This would explain why what I thought was the join was so incredibly smooth.

Gotta Tip?
The ideal knitting needle tip varies depending on your personal knitting preference, on the project you're knitting, and even on the yarn you're using. You have three tip style choices with these needles: Blunt, Middy, and Stiletto.

Blunt is, well, blunt. Middy is a relatively short taper with a "pointy" point. And Stiletto has a longer taper and the same "pointy" point. I did not get a pair of needles with the Blunt tip, so I can only comment on Middy and Stiletto. There is also a new Signature DPN, which I haven't yet seen.

While the Stiletto could sound daunting or trendy, it is actually a remarkably perfect needle tip. It isn't sharp enough to cause blisters, discomfort, or endless snags in your yarn, but it is long and pointed enough to allow impeccable precision in your stitches. You'll actively seek out patterns that call for you to knit three, four, even five stitches together—the kiss of death for needles with short, blunt tips.

The Middy tip has the same sharp point as the Stiletto but with a much shorter taper. For my personal knitting style and tastes, I didn't see as much use for this needle—but your thoughts may differ on this one.

Don Your Cap
You also get to choose from three end caps: Spiral, Bell, and Teardrop (shown in that order, from left to right, in the above photo). The spiral is the largest, most conspicuous of the caps, but it doesn't add as much weight to the needle as you'd think. When the needle rotates, the rotating spirals on the cap produce a mesmerizing barber-pole effect.

The Teardrop cap is lighter and has a pleasantly full, rounded shape to it. Of all the caps, this is my favorite.

And finally the Bell cap is the lightest of the bunch and most reminiscent of the traditional mushroom-style needle caps—although it's still much more polished and slick.

Long and Short
And finally, you can choose from needle lengths of 7, 10, and 14 inches. The shorter length is especially helpful if you like to knit narrow things in crowded spaces and don't want your needles to stick out like oars. And the longer needles work great if you're knitting something wide and have all the space in the world. The key thing is that you have a choice.

But once you've made your choice, that's it. These are not swappable screw-in tips and caps; everything is permanently assembled and meant to last a lifetime. (Although they are still backed by a lifetime warranty.)

Will Knitters Jump the Fence?
Everything about these tools indicates high-quality precision metal craftsmanship. Using the needles, I really felt like I was holding a set of fine surgical instruments. I'm even considering going back to aluminum needles for more of my swatching—but don't tell my rosewood circs!

I suppose you could say that the substance of these needles could also be their drawback because they weigh far more than their wooden counterparts. A 7" US 6 weighs half an ounce, and a 12" US 9 with the Spiral cap weighs almost 1 ounce. By comparison, the longer 14" Montana Mountain wooden size 8 is just over a quarter of an ounce.

My only regret is that I waited so long to try these out. When they were first sent to me, the price was $24 to $28. It has since gone up to $28 to $32, which is just enough more to make me think twice about buying a whole set.

Manufacturer
Signature Needle Arts

Material
Aluminum

Available Sizes
Needles marked in US and mm sizes.
7-, 10-, and 14-inch:
US 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
(each size has a different color)

Tip style also marked on needle

Average retail price
$28-$32 depending on needle size

Where to buy online
Signature Needle Arts

Made in
U.S.A.

Review date
4/3/2008

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