What prompts someone to go into the knitting needle business anyway?
It made perfect sense for Knitter’s Pride. The Indian manufacturer got its start making paintbrushes, which also require durable wooden handles and a well-fitting metal join that holds smooth, flexible fibers. After gaining prominence as a knitting needle manufacturer, Knitter’s Pride has just launched is own affordable “house” line to U.S. and Canada yarn stores.
The needle line covers all the knitting bases, from circulars to single-pointed straights, DPNs, and interchangeable circular needles made from colorful “densified laminated” birch wood (is that a fancy word for plywood?) as well as plain birch, nickel-plated brass, or acrylic.
The prices are reasonable, matching other comparably manufactured needles from India. You won’t be able to buy these needles from Knitter’s Pride, though. To try them out, you get to visit your friendly LYS.
This review focuses on the Symfonie Dreamz interchangeable needles.
A Case for Color
The first thing you’ll notice about any of the Symfonie Dreamz needles is their color. One of my pet peeves with circular needle sets is that, unless you’re a highly disciplined person, the tips tend to get jumbled. When you need a set of a particular size, you end up pulling out a handful of tips and running them all through your needle sizer until you find a pair that matches.
But these needles are color coded, with a separate color for each needle size. The DPNs and single-pointed straights follow a similar color-coding scheme.
The colors are charming, with puppy-like powers of attraction. When I pulled out my set while having coffee, several non-knitters stopped at my table and commented on how pretty the colors were. They’re the colors of candy, saturated pastels of purple, green, orange, raspberry, teal, and yellow, muted by the natural grain of the laminated birch—which happens to be sourced from Vermont.
Note: In 2014, the Rutland, Vermont-based plywood manufacturing plant where these needles were sourced burned to the ground, leaving 170 employees out of work. Knitter’s Pride no longer sources its plywood from the U.S.
These needles have a pleasantly smooth, substantial feeling. Birch is almost twice as dense as bamboo, and almost on par with teak. A low-gloss finish brings out the nuance of the wood grain beautifully.
Each needle measures 4 1/2 inches long from tip to join. Their medium taper leads to a pointy tip similar to that of other Indian-made needles you may have tried. Such a precise tip is ideal for working cables without a cable needle.
Also similar is the screw-and-key mechanism, whereby you screw the tip into the cord and then insert a fine metal rod through a hole in the join to tighten. Two of the holes in my cords had slightly rough edges that snagged my yarn. A few brisk rubs over the problem area with the key seemed to lessen the problem.
The screw-and-key mechanism is attached to a thin, flexible no-kink black nylon cord. The cord is fixed in its base, with no ability to swivel. You’ll need to be extra vigilant about using the key to make sure the cord is screwed into the needle nice and tight.
Three sets are currently available: The Deluxe (shown here), Starter, and Chunky. The Deluxe set retails for $86.99 and contains nine needle tips in US 4 (3.5mm), US 5 (3.75mm), US 6 (4mm), US 7 (4.5mm), US 8 (5mm), US 9 (5.5mm), US 10 (6mm), US 10 1/2 (6.5mm) and US 11 (8mm). The kit also comes with four cords (two 32″ and one each in 24″ and 40″ lengths), eight end caps, four cord keys, and one cord case, all of which comes in a clear vinyl carrying case.
The Starter set retails for $31.99 and will get you three different tips (US 6, 9, and 10), two cords (24″ and 32″), four end caps, and two cord keys, also in the clear vinyl carrying case.
If you mostly knit with bulkier yarns, the Chunky set may be your best option. This retails for $39.99 and gives you a set of US 13, 15, and 17 tips plus those same two cords, the four end caps, two keys, and the carrying case.
Bottom line? Despite the “klever” spelling, the Symfonie Dreamz needles are reasonably priced wooden interchangeables with a decent join and a great pointy tip.
Closer to Home
If you like the concept of these needles but are in a Buy American mood and have lots more money to spare, I would definitely consider the Darn Pretty interchangeables that are handmade in Vermont by Tom and Linda Diak.
As with all artisanal products, the supply is tight. I’ve been waiting for a review set since January. But I’ve gotten to play with other people’s needles, and they feel divine in your hands, like a well-made oboe or a fine fountain pen.
The Darn Pretty needles have more options including different colors, needle lengths, and tip styles. You get a set of 8 needle sizes, four cables, and four wooden stops. Each set is signed and numbered, retailing for $140.
And that brings us to the current quandary. Knitter’s Pride needles are made in India, but they are available at local yarn stores, and we like to support our local yarn stores. Darn Pretty needles are made by hand in the U.S., and for the privilege of a truly hand-crafted object that’s signed and numbered, you pay a lot more.
What’s really nice, though? We still have a choice.
“Densified laminated” birch
Eight needles: US 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10 1/2, 11
(3.5mm, 3.75mm, 4mm, 4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6mm, 6.5mm, 8mm)
4 cords (two 32″ and one each in 24″ and 40″)
8 end caps
4 cord keys
1 cord case
1 clear vinyl zip-top carrying case