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Tool Talk: Knitting Pins

My mother taught me to knit and crochet, when I was only 4 years old. In 44 years of knitting, I have changed tools several times, for several reasons. My mother used to knit with Stratnoid knitting pins. It was a metal pin, encased in quality plastic. For ordinary knitting, we used 30cm pins. For large projects, we used 35cm pins. I still have a huge container full of straight knitting pins. Unfortunately, with the arthritis in my hands, straight knitting pins became tools of torture.

When I opened Yarn in a Barn, I purchased the entire range of Elle knitting pins. Long ones, short ones, circular ones. Plastic, aluminium and bamboo. I had it all. And eventually, I GAVE IT ALL AWAY! I had to learn the hard way, that people willing to buy expensive, natural fibre yarns, won’t be interested in cheap, yucky knitting pins. 

So what was wrong with these knitting pins?

  • The metal part is slightly bent at the back of the pin, just before it is joined to the cable. That little bend, makes for very uncomfortable knitting.
  • The plastic cables are terrible. Every single time I wanted to use a pair, I first had to warm up the cable in hot water, and straighten them out. Even that wasn’t enough. The cables on the Elle needles are just gross.
  • The needles were not sharp enough.

I started looking for new knitting pins I would be willing to sell. After the disaster with the Elle needles, I vowed never to buy anything for the shop again, unless I have tested it myself extensively. I will not stock any product, that I cannot recommended with a clean conscience.

I bought a set of Knitpro cubics, interchangeable needles, from I Love Yarn. This is what the sets looks like.

I still use them. I love the square knitting needles. But still I didn’t buy it for Yarn in a Barn. So what’s the gripe?

  • The packaging was disappointing. I expected something a little more classy, for such a special set. The plastic bag just looks cheap.
  • I broke a 4.5mm knitting pin on a cable pattern, and I wasn’t even fighting with it. My husband repaired it for me, but it won’t be the same again.
  • The size numbers came off the needles within an hour of knitting with it.
  • Although the cables were much better than that of Elle, I still wasn’t impressed. I had to warm them up too, in order to get them to relax a bit.

Next I reviewed the Addi Clicks. I didn’t buy them, I only looked at them when a representative came to see me. Not impressed. I understand the sentiment that needles that click into place on the cable, won’t come lose. But then again, I never had my Knitpro needles come lose while knitting. I just tighten them sufficiently I guess. To get the needle and cable aligned to successfully ‘click’, will take a bit of practice. I decided to skip that one too.

I went to Ireland on our yarn tour, with firm plans in place, to buy myself some Hiya Hiya, and Chiaogoo knitting pins, to test. And I did. I bought a 3.25 pair of Chiaogoo from This is Knit, and I bought an entire set of Hiya Hiya from The Constant Knitter.

Let’s look at Hiya Hiya first. I chose the bamboo set (unfortunately) and it looks like this.

  • This set looks beautiful. The entire presentation, is fit for luxury yarn lovers. It isn’t cheap, and it certainly doesn’t look cheap either.
  • It is difficult to screw the pin all the way to the cable – even with the rubber grips, I sometimes couldn’t do it. It felt as if some of the holes just were not big or deep enough.
  • The cables had the same problem as the others; I had to heat it up to get it relaxed enough to knit with.
  • All four cables, snagged the yarn. Right there where the plastic meets the metal, it snagged. All of them.
  • One of the 4mm knitting pins, had a gash in the tip, and snagged the yarn too.

To say I was disappointed, is a huge understatement. Fortunately, Hiya Hiya was very friendly when they received my complaint and I will receive a full refund. My set is on its way back to Ireland.

The only one left was Chiaogoo. I only bought one lose Chiaogoo Twist set. Oh man, how I regret it! I bought a 13cm set of 3.25mm pins, and a short Twist Cable. The cable, oh the cable! I am dancing with joy here! TWIST cables are memory-free!  They consist of a multi-strand, steel cable coated with red nylon. When I took the cable out of the small packet, and held on to one end, the other end dropped straight down, without a kink! Amazing! The needles are sharp enough for comfortable knitting, but not so sharp that it will injure a pusher (I am a pusher). It is luxurious knitting all the way! With packaging to match the amazing product.

So ladies and gentlemen, soon, in Yarn in a Barn, CHIAOGOO!

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