Addi Lace Click Interchangeables
"Ask and ye shall receive" is the unofficial Addi motto. First, knitters demanded lace-gauge needles with sharper tips than the original Addi Turbos—and in 2007 Addi responded with the phenomenally popular Addi Turbo Lace needles. Then, we demanded interchangeable circular needles, and Addi introduced the Addi Click Interchangeables. The ink hadn't even dried on the Click packaging before knitters were at it again—this time demanding an interchangeable version of the Addi Turbo Lace needles.
That was in December 2008, and in mid-May, Addi plans to ship the first of its Addi Lace Click Interchangeables. What you see here is a nearly final prototype of the set.
A Case for Clicks
The Addi Lace Click Interchangeables come in a snazzy faux-leather carrying case that's a little bigger than a women's clutch purse. If the original Click case was suitable for your grandmother's silver, this new Click Lace case is more fitting for her purls. Magnetic snaps keep the front and side flaps firmly in place.
Open the front flap and you'll see a suede-lined interior with a small inside pocket into which a black plastic needle sizer and two cables have been tucked along with a little red card introducing you in German and English to the person who packed your set. (Mine was packed by someone named Bielefelelt.) A gold-colored heart-shaped pin pokes through the top of the pocket. You can remove the pin and wear it to attract other Click lovers, or perhaps keep it in your kit as a symbol of your affection for your needles.
When you spot only two connector cords, don't panic. The remaining three are safely tucked inside a zipper pocket that lines the back of the case.
Flip over the inside pocket and you'll be presented with the goods: eight sets of little needle tips spanning from US 4 (3.5mm) to US 11 (8mm), all standing perfectly upright like the Rockettes. An elastic band separated by metal clips keeps the needles snug.
Beneath the needles you'll find a short brass tube, also held snug beneath an elastic strap. That is the Click Connector, which allows you to connect two cords and create one über cord.
The Click Mechanism
As with the original Addi Clicks, the Addi Lace Clicks don't use the typical screw mechanism to connect cord and needle. Instead, they use what appears to be a spring-based, push-twist-and-release mechanism that is far more likely to stay put while you knit. There's nothing to come unscrewed, and the join doesn't require a key to tighten.
The join mechanism has a brief learning curve, one or two minutes tops. Be patient, practice a few times, and you'll get the idea.
Speaking of the join, here's how it looks up close. The join is not as smooth as most interchangeables that have a screw mechanism, but the benefit here is that there's nothing to come unscrewed while you work that final crucial row in, say, a 380-stitch lace shawl. Everything stays put.
There is, however, a small "hop" at the lip where the needle joins the cord. Karin Skacel tells me they're working to improve this before the final roll-out, so there's a high likelihood you won't experience it. But if any smaller hop lingers, it's just a matter of guiding your stitches over the join, which most of us do anyway as we pull our knitting from the cord to the needle.The Tip
For many, including myself, the heart of these needles lies in their tips: long, well-tapered, and perfectly pointy without risking puncture wounds. The Click Lace tips are a hint longer than those on the classic Lace needles, giving you a slower taper and even more room to manipulate stitches as you see fit. Lace knitting often involves fiddly things like knitting two or even three stitches together and lifting stitches over one another—tasks at which the Click Lace needles excel.
To accommodate the 16-inch cord, the tips on the Addi Click Lace Interchangeables have been made significantly shorter than those on the standard Addi Lace needles. The above-left photo shows you a pair of traditional Addi Lace needles on top and the Click Lace on the bottom (you can click to enlarge).
Knitters are notoriously particular about their needles, and this fussiness includes tips, materials, and lengths. Where needle length is concerned, we need to be able to grasp the needles comfortably in our hands. Depending on the size of your hands and the way you knit, you'll generally find it more comfortable to knit with certain lengths than others.
From tip to join, the traditional Addi Lace needles are approximately 5 1/8 inches long; the Addi Click Lace needles are an even 4 inches long. That's a touch too short for my personal comfort level, but I suspect (and hope) my knitting would naturally adjust.
If you have a traditional Addi Click set, you can also use those cords on these needles interchangeably. You just won't want to use the new 16" and 20" cords in this kit with any older Addi Click needles because the shorter cord lengths and longer needle lengths won't make for comfortable knitting.
Fortunately, down the road Addi and Skacel will be prividing Addi Click Lace Interchangeable needle tips in the standard, longer lengths. Also, all tips will be available individually as well. This can be particularly useful if you tend to stick within certain needle ranges.
Some lace knitters may cry foul that these are marketed as "lace" and yet the needle sizes only go down to a US 4. While some lace is knit on much finer needles, you'd be surprised how many lace patterns call for a US 4 or larger (remembering of course that lace is knit on larger needles than you'd normally use for a yarn).
Still, these needles get their "lace" designation from their sharp tips and brass finish, both of which are trademarks of the standard Addi Turbo Lace circulars. When you get to smaller sizes, interchangeable needle joins present technical challenges that make it virtually impossible—as of yet, anyway—to produce an even, smooth, reliably strong interchangeable join. The small circumference required makes any possible join simply too fragile.
Meanwhile, however, you're left with a good range of fine to mid-sized needles that should suit most knitting requirements.
The Cost Conundrum
The Addi Click Lace Interchangeables currently retail for $169.95. That alone will stop many knitters in their tracks, especially during an economic downturn. Why do these needles cost so much, when other nickel-plated brass interchangeable needle sets are sold by competitors, such as Knit Picks, for under $90? What I wrote when reviewing the original Addi Clicks still bears repeating, so here goes.
The first difference: Knit Picks is both manufacturer and retailer of its needles. This means the company does not sell its products to your LYS, which needs to mark up the price to cover its cost of doing business. Instead, it sells its products directly to knitters at the manufacturer's price without LYS markup. Skacel does not sell directly to the public—it only sells to local yarn shops and online yarn stores. These stores then add their own markup to cover such costs as rent, heat, electricity, health insurance, living wages and continuing education for employees, etc.—all those invisible but necessary things that create the LYS stage setting we so enjoy. That markup increases what you must pay, but the assumption is that you also benefit from the services offered by that LYS.
And second, the Knit Picks Options needles are manufactured in India. The Addi needles are manufactured in Germany, where working conditions include healthcare, paid vacation, and a 40-hour work week—all of which translate into a higher cost to produce goods. Germany also has extremely high standards for factory safety and environmentally friendly production processes, which add to the tab as well.
Ultimately, what each of us decides will be as unique as our choice in patterns and yarns. For those who aren't fans of the pointy-tipped Addi Lace needles, you may not have any use for an interchangable version. For those on the fence, I'd highly recommend you try a pair of the classic Addi Lace circulars and see how you like the finished brass material and precise tip.
And for those longtime Addi Lace lovers, it may be time to pull out the piggy bank and start saving for your next big treat.
Addi (distributed in U.S. by Skacel Knitting)
Hollow brass with a special finish
Five cords that create 16", 20", 24", 32", and 40" needles
One Click connector
Eight needles: US 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
You can preorder the Addi Lace Clicks from WEBS.