by Kerrie James


Review for You

Posted on October 17, 2011 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (6)

As you might have noticed, I took a little blog break these past two weeks.  Not that I should have, I have several posts back logged but I really did need a break from the computer... I do that from time to time.

Anyhow, I am back with a week of reviews for you!  Today: Square Needles.

A few years ago, when the Kollage Square knitting needles were released, I did not bite and thought the square shape was simply a gimmick to sell a knitter another set of needles.  I did read about the supposed benefits but simply didn't believe the square shape could make such a difference.  In fact, it seemed reasonable to me that they would cause more pain.

This past year, several knitters from Sock Knitter's Anonymous touted the Kollage Squares, declaring that the square shape really did work.  After considering the sources, I thought it was about time I tried a pair for myself.  I ordered three sizes from Paradise Fibers and waited for arrival.

In the meantime, I started a project and realized I truly needed a needle tip, US 15, which I did not have.  Knowing that KnitPicks and KnitPro needles are one in the same, I chose to order KnitPro from a local source for faster shipping.  In my search, I discovered that KnitPro had released Cubics (also Cubix, depending on the distributor), a laminated birch wood, square knitting needle.  Since I had just ordered the Kollage needles, I thought this would be a great opportunity to compare and review both needles.  With out further wait:

Kollage Square

Made of: Coated Aluminum

Types available / Sizes available:

Straights / 10" in US 0 - 10 (2,00 - 6,00 mm), including half sizes.

DPNs / 5", 6", 7" in US 0 - 8 (2,00 - 5,00 mm), including half sizes.

Circulars,available in both soft and firm cables / 9", 16", 24", 32", 40" in US 0 - 10 (2,00 - 6,00 mm), including half sizes.

Crochet / US A - M (2,00 - 9,00 mm).

Impressions:  I'm a sucker at first impressions.  Like a child on his birthday, I love all the new shiny toys.  It takes a few hours to a few days for the novelty to wear off before I can usually give an honest assessment. 

I like the feel of the Kollage needles, slick but not too slick.  The metal seems to warm to my hand, never feeling cold or uncomfortable. (for your information, it has been quite cold here in Germany, we've even turned on the heat a few nights!) 

I find the tips to be on the blunt side, which I did find troublesome with certain yarns (Trekking XXL) but for nice round types (Wollmeise, Bugga!), the bluntness did not seem to be an issue.

KnitPro Cubics

Made of: Stained and Laminated Birch wood

Types available / Sizes available:


Straights / 10", 12" in 3,50 - 8,00 mm

DPNs / 6", 8" in 2,00 - 8,00 mm

Circulars, fixed / 16", 24", 32", 40", 47", 60" in 3,00 - 8,00 mm 

Circulars, interchangeable/  in 4,00 - 8,00 mm 

Crochet / not available


Impressions: As noted above, I'm a sucker for shiny, pretty things.  These needles are gorgeous.  The deep rich color of the wood just beckons to be touched.  I cast on one set 2,00 mm for a pair of socks and size 4,00 mm for a sweater swatch. 

The Cubics needles are light and smooth.  I paid close attention to the drag, a pet peeve of mine in terms of wood-type needles, and found that neither the Merino/Silk blend nor the Lambswool/Cashmere blend stopped up on the needle shaft. 

The tips are nice and sharp but not so much so that I feared stabbing myself, however, I am partial to sharp tips.


Now for the big question.  Did the square needles make any difference?  Were they easier on my hands than traditional round needles?  Were my stitches more uniform?

At first, I did not notice any difference in the square-type needles being any easier on my hands than the round needles.  I felt I was just knitting away happily.  Then I put down a project knitted on square needles and picked up a project on round needles (Signature DPNs).  The first round went by alright but by the second round I had noticed several things. 

First, my hands were gripping the round needles far tighter than they had gripped the square needles;  Something I've done for a very long time and just accepted as my personal knitting style. 

Second, since gripping the round needles so tightly, my hands grew fatigued faster. 

Third, as one with both Chronic Lyme Disease and Fibromyalgia, I found great pain creeping into my hands, something I had ignored all my knitting life but realized that while knitting with the square needles, I did not feel this usual pain.

It seems fairly obvious to me that the square needles are indeed easier on the hands than the round needles... but why? 

I practiced knitting with both the round and square needles to discover an interesting (to me) tid bit.  The square needles, having flat sides, are stable in the hand, requiring very little applied pressure to knit.  The round needles, I found, are not stable and roll down the thumb, which must be why I hold them so tightly, creating fatigue and pain in my fingers, hands and wrists.  It is quite possible that these nuances apply only to my hand and style of knitting but I do urge you to find out for yourself.

Finally, I can not say that my stitches were more uniform, as I am a firm tensioned knitter.  I think someone who is a loose to moderate tensioned knitter would be better suited to give an opinion on this point.

Focus Friday (on Saturday)

Posted on September 3, 2011 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (3)

Focus: Spinning Wheel Maintenance

For me, it's that time of year.  At the first evidence of Fall, I begin to think 'Spin!' and shortly thereafter, 'Spinning wheel maintenance.'  And so, assembling my heard and sprucing them up becomes top on my list of things to do.  Since we expect to move within the next 9-10 months, I took this opportunity to also properly store away my larger wheels (Louet Julia, Schacht Ladybug and an antique wheel) while keeping my Ashford Joy traveling wheel handy for use. 

This week I'll show you how I do basic maintenance, using my Joy to clean up a bit.  Basic maintenance requires minimal dis-assembly of your wheel, only removing commonly removed parts such as the flyer and bobbin.  Next week I will do a more thorough maintenance using my antique wheel and possibly the Julia and Ladybug. 

One of the first steps in preparing for any project is to assemble your materials, most items can be found in your home.  The materials list below is inclusive of all types of wheels, select the items relevant to your wheel. (ex. Only machines with leather parts would require mink oil, etc)

  • drop cloth or old sheet
  • rags
  • cotton swabs
  • needle nosed pliers
  • paint brush dedicated for the spinning wheel
  • quality furniture oil (lemon oil) or Olive oil
  • mink oil or other leather care if applicable
  • machine oil, this can be either spinning wheel, sewing machine or 30 grade machine oil
  • beeswax or other dry lubricant (ex. paraffin)
  • No.10 cotton thread
  • extra springs if applicable
  • extra drive band(s)

Quite likely, instructions for spinning wheel maintenance were included with your wheel at purchase.  If you've lost the instructions or if you are not the original owner, you may find information on the company websites.  Or, since you are here, you can follow my instructions below:

  • Lay your drop cloth and gather your wheel.
  • Remove your flyer, bobbin, brake band and drive band(s).

  • Use your dry paint brush to carefully brush away dust, fibers and debris from all parts.  Try to get all areas, to include hinges and joining points and especially at metal joins.  Some fibers may be stuck and may require you to pick them out.  Don't forget the Footman!

  • Using your furniture (or olive) oil and a rag, wipe down the entire wheel, to include grimey/gunky parts, until clean.
  • If your wheel has leather pieces, treat these with mink oil now.  Leather pieces are often found at the Footman or near the tensioning devices.

  • Now is the time to use your fine grade machine oil (30 grade) and beeswax.  While spinning the wheel slowly apply the wet lubricant (oil), treat metal on metal parts such as ball bearings, axles, cranks and other joints as well as the spindle shaft and flyer.  If your dispenser does not have a long thin nose, use cotton swabs for application, wiping running oil off the wheel.  If your wheel has sealed ball bearings oiling is not necessary.  Using the dry lubricant (wax), treat wood on wood joints and wood on metal joints.

  • Inspect the hooks, drive band(s) and tensioning systems.  Check the hooks, making sure they are secure and free of nicks.  If the drive band requires replacement, do so now.  If you have an extra drive band, great, if not, use the No.10 cotton.  Inspect your wheel's tensioning system, depending on whether you require springs, leather or cotton, replace these parts if necessary.  

Your wheel should be fairly spiffy right about now!

Coming Monday: Make It Monday & a Quilting book review!

New Pattern!

Posted on September 11, 2010 at 3:57 PM Comments comments (0)

I've just uploaded Kananaskis for your knitting pleasure ^_^

These socks were knitted just after I saw a photo of the Kananaskis Mountain Range in Canada.  Upon seeing the impressive images I remebered a stitch pattern and went to work.

This pattern can be worked cuff down or toe up and can be worked at several gauges, too.  I've also included instructions for the Sister Stitches Short Row Heel.

You can download this pattern on my website or in Ravelry, Thanks for looking!

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