ChiaoGoo are known as the Ferrari of knitting needles. I've used their fixed circulars for a few years now and have been drooling over the interchangeable set. This year I finally bit the bullet and got myself the complete set as a belated Christmas present. Having played around with the set a bit now, here are my initial impressions.
Let me preface this review by stating that this blog post is in no way sponsored by ChiaoGoo or anyone else. I purchased the set out of my own pocket and I'm writing this review out of my own volition and general knitterly interest.
Needle Tips The needle tips in the TWIST set come in two length options: 4" (10 cm) or 5" (13 cm). I got the 4-inch version but tips of each length are compatible with one another. But it's something to keep in mind: depending on your knitting style you might prefer a longer or shorter tip. There's plenty of room lengthwise in the case for the longer tips so if you ever want to purchase additional or replacement tips, it shouldn't be an issue.
I got the complete set which comes in sizes 2.75 mm (US 2) to 10 mm (US 15) with a few gaps in between once you get to the largest sizes. Now here's a bit of a shocker: all parts of the ChiaoGoo interchangeable set are actually not compatible with each other.
In order to make the join from cable to needle as smooth as possible, the needle tips are divided into a set of Small and Large tips with separate cables for each sub-set. All parts are clearly marked, though, but it means there are more moving parts in the set... and more parts to potentially misplace.
You can buy the Small and Large sets separately, too, if you tend to use needle sizes in only one sub-set. The Small comes in sizes 2.75 mm (US 2) to 5.0 mm (US 8). The tips in the Large set are from 5.5 mm (US 9) to 10 mm (US 15). There's also a TWIST MINI set for tiny needles: 1.5 mm (US 000) to 2.5 mm (US 1½).
The TWIST needle tips are made of surgical stainless steel which makes them long-lasting and very durable. Needle size is laser etched onto the needle tip itself so it shouldn't rub off in use. The tips are very light and you can feel (and hear) the larger ones are hollow. They're also very, very sharp so if you're in the habit of pushing down on the tip with your index finger (like I do), using these needles will force you to unlearn that habit. (It's also not a good idea to poke yourself under the fingernail with these tips. Ouch.)
If you prefer the feel of a wooden needle, ChiaoGoo also produces the SPIN set with bamboo tips and nylon cables.
The distinctive red cables that ChiaoGoo is known for are made of nylon-coated, multi-strand steel. They're very flexible and memory-free which means they won't kink up even after being stored for extended periods of time. I constantly use my fixed ChiaoGoo circulars for magic loop but I wouldn't recommend that for the interchangeables — and you'll soon learn why.
The cables come in three lengths: 8" (20 cm), 14" (35 cm), and 22" (55 cm). Together with the needle tip they make circulars that are 16" (40 cm), 22" (56 cm), and 30" (76 cm) in length. That's a little shorter than what I'm used to with fixed circs but the set comes with cable connectors you can use to build a monster cable.
As stated before, there are two sets of cables, one for the Small tips and one for the Large. Both cable length and which set the cable belongs to is laser etched onto the steel screws so even if there are a lot of parts, they're easily identifiable.
The cables are attached to the needle tips with a simple screw-in mechanism. To get the screw really tight, the set comes with two T-needle shaped tools you can use to get a bit more leverage in your twist. I've heard some interchangeable needles come with a rubber grip and that's something that might come in handy with the ChiaoGoo ones, too. Because the steel needle tips are very smooth, I found them quite slippery.
The first project I used the set on was a pair of magic loop, two-at-a-time socks and I learned the hard way that's not the best way to use these needles. Magic looping the cable puts quite a bit of strain on the join. Constant twisting motion at either end of the cable kept untwisting the screw between needle tip and cable, and I had to reach for the T-shaped key every few rounds. Luckily I was always able to catch this on time and none of my stitches came loose!
Besides the tips and cables themselves, there are also few little knickknacks that come with the set.
2 T-shaped keys used to tighten the screws
2 cable connectors (one for each size) used to join separate cable pieces into one looong cable
4 cable stoppers (color coded, two for each size) you can use to pull out the needle tips to use in another project.
The set also comes with a baggie of plastic stitch markers in four sizes. And honestly, in my opinion these were the clunkiest bit of the set. I appreciate the gesture but I found the stitch markers quite large and thick. There's also a needle guide and a handy cheat sheet of all the parts in the TWIST and SPIN interchangeable sets.
One thing that's not in the set (and must be purchased separately) are cable adapters. You can use these to attach a size Small tip onto a size Large cable, or vice versa. I'd much rather have a couple of adapters in the set instead of the stitch markers.
All of this comes in quite an attractive zippered canvas case. And the size is quite handy, too, about the size of a moleskin notebook, so you can easily tuck the entire set in your project bag. The needle tips all have their clearly monogrammed slots, the Small set on one side and the Large on the other. There are also two extra slots if you ever decide to buy extra tips. Or you can always carry an emergency oops-dropped-a-stitch crochet hook.
On the cover of the case there's an extra zip-up pocket that easily holds all the cables and aforementioned extras.
So what's the verdict? All in all the ChiaoGoo TWIST interchangeable set is of great quality and quite a lot of thought has gone into every aspect of the set. There are details that tell that ChiaoGoo really understand what knitters need and want from their needles.
I'm sure I'll enjoy my set for years to come. But here are a few caveats you might want to consider if you're on the market for an interchangeable needle set.
For magic loop, even the longest cable length is a little too short and the screw-in mechanism tends to unscrew itself. If you're a hardcore TAAT magic looper, use fixed circulars.
It's really two interchangeable sets wrapped in one, with separate parts for each. But I'd rather have smooth, snag-free joins even if it comes at the expense of carrying a few extra pieces with me.
I'd much prefer cable adapters over stitch markers and I'm sure I'll end up buying the adapters at some point.
There are no size 7.0 mm needle tips in the set but they can be purchased separately.
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