Needle Review: Signature Needle Arts
Monday 29th September 2014
I will carry on reviewing needles from time to time, even though we have now reached my favourite brand: Signature Needle Arts
This American company has created a range of needles which, for me, covers almost all the areas that matter: incredible functionality, precision, and beauty.
The website is interactive, so you actually build your own needle, using a range of choice options, which include gauge, style (e.g. single tip, DPN etc), length, tip profile, and decorative end feature (for the single tip needles). The colour of the needle is determined by the gauge, for example, 2.25 mm needles are green, as are 4 mm needles. The other colours are hot pink, blue, purple, red and gold.
So you choose a set of 4 mm single point needles. Then you are asked to choose the length of the needle – three options. 7, 10 or 14 inches. Then, and for me this is the best part, the profile of the tip: stiletto, midi or blunt. All mine are stiletto, which is a long, tapered tip, always sharply precise and in the smaller gauges, very sharp indeed. I can only afford one set of the sizes I like and use most so the luxury of choosing midi or blunt tips was always academic, but I just can’t see where they’d be better than stiletto tips, to be honest, which work for all knitting and yarns.
Then finally you choose your end feature: bell, tear-drop or spiral. (Describing these decorative ends to a class once did get me into a bit of a myther, and caused Millington to snort tea and stare fixedly out of the window for some minutes as we fought to regain self-control. Just read them back and add the word ‘end’ to each one…)
I have a few pairs/sets. Most years I ask Mark to buy me a pair for Christmas, which means I have to go on the website and choose – not a hardship! I have the single points in 10 and 14 inch lengths, in a range of my usual, preferred sizes; and I also have 4 sets of DPNs, which are just lovely. One the clever features is that you can buy the DPNs singly, or in sets of 4, or 5 needles.
I have 2 fixed circulars too. These have now been discontinued, and replaced with interchangeables. I wish I had bought more of the fixed cables now, because I don’t use interchangeables – nor could I afford a full set of tips I use and cable lengths. I think these are incredibly expensive, and I just don’t think I could justify it even if I thought I’d use them.
Knitting with them is an absolute joy. I knit a lot of smallish items, so the small lengths of single point needles are ideal. I also love the way they look. The colours are jewel-bright and really pretty. If the same precision-engineered tool was available to me in say, grey metal (think Pony), I know the knitting would be the same, but it actually wouldn’t feel as enjoyable. We knit a lot, don’t we? It’s good then to use tools that please and work so well.
They are the result of a brain-wave idea. The woman who founded the company was also the President of a precision engineering company, and her hobby was knitting. Wanting a sharper needle tip, she had a pair made and polished – the first stiletto tips. Now, these could have been made in grey, but the range has evolved into a thing of beauty as well.
They are aluminium. So they do not flex much. They are cool to the handle, and the tips are super-finely transitioned into the main shaft of the needle. The main part of the needle is the part that is coloured and this has just enough ‘grip’ on the yarn to not be lethally slippery – though they have less ‘grab’ than carbon or wood; they have a lot more than plain steel needles.
- amazing tools for the job; they make knitting even more of a pleasure
- beautiful to look at
- extremely well made
- attention to detail – the range of size and length options, for example, and the laser-cut size that is added to each needle
- choosing them is great fun – very addictive!
- clear, clean website
- life-time guarantee against manufacturing defects
Not so good:
- they are really quite expensive. A pair of single point 4 mm needles, in the mid-length, stiletto tip and spiral end is $34 plus postage. I do not begrudge this cost. I think they are worth this money, and I expect to have to pay for great craftsmanship. It just means I have a limited number and will never have a full set!
- there are very few UK-based retailers, and I can see why because the whole point is that YOU build the needle and then they assemble and ship it. But this means that you are highly likely to be importing them direct from the US manufacturing site, which adds a lot of time and postage cost
- be aware that they attract import tax
- the longer single points I find very heavy, possibly due to the decorative ends. They can make my hands ache after an hour or so, which is unusual for me. The way round this is to use circs – but as I have said, the fixed option has been discontinued