You know I like knitting toys, and you may have already guessed that I love my Knit Picks Options (KPO) needles. I love everything about them!
As I progressed in my knitting skills, I quickly left straight needles behind for circulars. Because of my bad habit of having many WIP's at once, I usually bought a new set of needles for each project.
My original circulars were Susan Bates needles--those grey coated needles and slightly stiff cables. They were fine for the basic type of knitting I usually did. Occasionally, a plastic circular (I hated that! the tip was too flexible) or a Clover bamboo would join my growing needle collection. I also mastered double points (DPN's)--mostly clovers until I discovered the lovely texture and points of Crystal Palace bamboos.
Somewhere along the way I got turned on to Inox Express and Addi Turbo needles. I loved the sharp points (especially on the Inoxes), slick, smooth finishes, and the soft, flexible cables. Then I learned Magic Loop technique, and for my birthday 2 years ago I invested in a 40" needle in every size from 0 to 13 in Inoxes (Addi's for a few that weren't available). But I still had the problem of not being able to find the appropriate needle because it was in a WI (not really in Progress) at the moment. Finances had changed, and I could no longer afford to buy new needles for every project. I also knew when I took a needle out of a WIP and put the project on a temporary holder, it was highly unlikely that the project would ever make it back on needles again.
Around that time I made the holder a la circular solution (see "Pimp my knitting part two, below), but I wished that I had a neater, tidier way to organize my needles.
I started to lust after the Denise set of needles, but deemed they were "too expensive". I liked the organization of the case, the wide variety of needles, the fact that I could have many WIPs with the same size needles, etc.
I think the entire Denise set was about $25 when I started thinking about buying it. I hemmed and hawed for YEARS!!!!. I kept hoping I'd find them somewhere on sale, or at Michaels or Joanne's where I could use one of the 40% off coupons (I SWEAR I read posts on the Knitlist where people said they found the Denise set at one of those stores and scored it with a coupon), but I never found the Denise needles at Michael's or Joanne's or for less than list anywhere around here.
Finally, about a year ago, a local sewing store started to carrry some yarn and needles. Since it was the only non chain store in my town carrying yarn, word spread quickly and they expanded the knitting section. They even carried Denise needles. AND, they had online coupons for as much as 20% off your purchase. Good enough, I finally took the plunge--only now the set was about $46 dollars.
I swear, it was no more than a few DAYS after I finally bought my Denise needles that KnitPicks came out with the Options needles. AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! I think I am wholly responsible for th release of the KPO's. The knitting gods learned that I had finally purchased the Denise set, and THEN decided to put my dream needles on the market. LOL!
Don't get me wrong--there's nothing at all wrong with the Denise needles. But I don't particularly like plastic, and the cables were thick and full of annoying memory--even though they were flexible enough to do Magic Loop, if you could put up with the memory part. I had been thinking for years that an interchangeable set of Inox-type needles would be my dream needles. The Denise needles were great, but they were not like the needles I prefer to knit with.
So, I plotted and schemed and finally decided that life was not worth living until I had the KPO's in my hands (OK, a bit of exaggeration there!). I asked for a gift certificate for my birthday and planned my own custom order of needles, the case, and accessories to fit within that budget (OK, I paid a little bit more, but not much). WG came through (at the last minute so I had to WAIT to get my birthday gift until 1st the gift certificate came and then for my order to arrive--but now he's forgiven).
Here's why I love them so:
1) The case: I almost didn't get the case. It looked kind of cheesy in the catalog, but I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. (See photo and description in Pimp part Two). It's beautiful and organized.
2) The needles:
a) I love a sharply tapered point. Addis are too dull (I haven't tried the new Addi lace needles yet). Inoxes are barely sharp enough. These are perfectly sharp. If you don't like or aren't used to a sharp point, you might find these annoying. You have to be extra careful not to split the yarn. But they make lace knitting so much easier, and I'm learning to be careful on the cotton bamboo yarn I'm using on the ruffled surplice.
b) I love the slick, nickel-plated surface. The knitting just glides along. Every once in a while I come across a yarn that I can't handle on slick needles, but it's pretty rare. When that happens, I still have bamboos around to handle it. But for most everything, the surface on the KPO's--just like Addis and Inoxes--is wonderful. Like "buttah"!
c) Smooth joins. I love not having to push the yarn over the place where the needle joins the cable. Even some of my Inoxes have a problem here. KPO's do not.
d) Flexible Cables--the most flexible cables I have found, bar none. Inoxes were my heretofore favorite, but the KPO cables beat them for flexibility and lack of memory. Once the needles are screwed on to the cable and tightened with the "key", they stay on very tightl. I've only had one needle loosen one time, though I keep checking in case it happens again. Luckily, it was just slightly loosened after a lot of knitting without problem, and I didn't lose a thing.
e) The "toys". I love having the end caps and cable "key". When I first got them, I was disappointed that I couldn't change needles every few minutes to play with my toys. I did find it hard to keep track of the cable keys and they weren't all that easy to grasp to tighten the needles to the cables, so I made my own "handle" out of polymer clay.
What do you think? I know my polymer clay skills can use some work, but I like it anyway.
I purchased a set of the tags, but instead of putting them on WNIPs (works not in progress), I put the tags in the plastic pockets holding the needles so I can see at a glance what size the needle is.
I also bought the KP needle gauge, but I'm not impressed with that. Too plastic, and the magnifier doesn't work for me to use for gauge determinations--I just can't see in the little window (this is a problem with my eyes more than the tool itself).
The whole "package" that comprises the KPO set is just sublime IMHO. I don't work for KnitPicks and have no affiliation, but I am one very satisfied customer.
I love my KPO's!