Kollage Square Circular Knitting Needles
Wait, did I just say "square circular" knitting needles? Yes—and that's what these are. Mostly. Let me explain.
Square knitting needles are marketed as being more ergonomic to hold—rather like those little rubber triangles we used to slip over our pencils in grade school. Knitters with carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, it is suggested, will find square needles much more comfortable for long-term knitting.
These aren't entirely square needles—they have a square midsection and then a rounded tip and a rounded taper leading to the area where the cord joins into the needle. Hence the "square circular" label.
Hip to be Square?
Square knitting needles are not a new concept. Kollage first introduced them in 2006. Those early needles were single-pointed straights made out of wood. Interest was high, but widespread adoption was limited by the relatively limited preference for single-pointed straights. (In a recent Knitter's Review poll, only 7% of those who responded preferred single-pointed straights.)
Introducing a circular paradigm two years later—and adding square DPNs too—is a very smart move for Kollage.
These needles are so new that only a handful of yarn stores have them. But you can preorder a pair through Kollage—they work with the Shopatron service, so your order will go directly to an LYS.
Unlike their wooden predecessors, these new needles are made in China out of aluminum. The surface appears to be coated with a copper-colored material—I surmise this only because one of my joins has faint scratches in it.
The needle surface has a very faint texture—almost microscopically pockmarked—which helps add drag to your yarn, making the needles less slippery.
The rounded and blunt tip on these needles has a very brief taper. On the other end, the needle tapers into a narrower, longer round area (it was two inches on my US 9 needles) before joining with the cord.
Kollage has also worked to adjust the needle size so that it more closely matches "standard" non-square needles. You really will want to swatch first to make sure your gauge matches up. According to Kollage, most knitters need to go up one needle size in the squares to get the same gauge they would in round needles.
The Bigger Picture
The cord—which Kollage has trademarked as the KKable (because it won't "kink, kurl, or knot")—is almost as important as the square shape of these needles. While all circular knitting needle cords are flexible, most have a bit of substance and body to them. Some are so firm that you need to hold them under hot running water to smooth them out before knitting. Others—the Addi Turbo Lace and Knit Picks Options most notably—have much softer cords. But the cord on the Kollage Square Circulars is the most fluid I've ever tried. It reminds me of licorice, or of the nylon cords we'd use to make lanyards in summer camp.
Such a fluid and unobtrusive cord can be extremely comfortable when working with lightweight lace and other such fabrics. It also lets you hold your knitting close without having to deal with a large cord that doesn't want to collapse against your body.
As I tried these needles with different yarns, I started to see why most circulars have a heavier cord: some fabric can weigh quite a bit. Like heavy drapes on a thin curtain rod, at a certain point the rod will bend and all the drapes will fall into the middle. The same thing happens with this cord. It's so soft and malleable that almost any kind of heavy fabric causes it to droop to the point where there's a 90-degree angle (or more) between the cord and needle. As you're working your stitches and slowly sliding your work onto the needle, the cord may actually bend backwards on itself if you aren't careful. Just make sure the cord is as parallel to the needles as possible when you do the sliding.
Knitters are very curious about these needles. Many have asked me if the needles are genuinely useful, or if the square shape is just a marketing ploy.
These are fully functional knitting needles that just happen to be square instead of round. Their square shape gives you more to hold onto, which—depending on how you hold your needles and whether or not your hands tend to cramp or ache after too much knitting—may make your knitting much more comfortable.
It's ultimately a personal choice. You really need to pick up a pair and knit for a while to figure out what you think. You may find that they revolutionize how knitting feels to you. Or you may say, "Hmm, that's interesting," and return to knitting as usual. Or you may fall somewhere in the middle and choose to add a pair or two to your needle collection and pull them out when you crave a little variety.
Knitters are extremely picky about their needles, and these square ones give us another choice.
Aluminum needle with some form of synthetic plastic/nylon cord
Cord lengths: 24, 32, 40 inches
US: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
(2, 2.25, 2.75, 3.25, 3.5, 3.75, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6mm)
$14.75 for 24" cords; $15.75 for 32" and 40" cords
You can preorder these needles through Kollage