Sunday, March 31, 2013

Knitterly Things :: Denise Interchangeable


As mentioned in the first post of the knitting needle review series

I'm always asked about my needles on a regular basis: What do I use?  What do I prefer?  What do I recommend?  I'll admit that I do have quite the collection of needles consisting of at least 10 different brands.  Even though I'm fairly brand loyal, I'm also one of those consumers that likes to try out all the new products that come on the market.  This rings quite true with knitting needles.  So whilst I have my favourites, I thought i would share my views on some of the needles and sets that I own.

Before we get into the deets of anything, I'll put it out there right now that I might be a little biased on a few things.  Such as the fact that I'm a huge fan of interchangeable needle sets and think they are he most economical way of obtaining a good collection of needles, as they usually provide an assortment of needles sizes and cable lengths that you can mix and match to suit your needs per project.  Usually when a beginner asks what I recommend, I usually tell them to invest in a interchangeable needle set (of course, after a few questions and I know they are in it for the long haul...no point in telling someone who isn't sure if knitting is their schtick to dish out moola on something they may never use again after 1 project), not only will a set save you money but it's great to have all the commonly used sizes and options at your finger tips.

So, onwards to the second review in the knitting needle review series!


Not long after I had received my set of Knit Picks Harmony Wood Interchangeable circular needles, I received a set of Denise Interchangeables in the "Pink Kit" for breast cancer ($5 from every set goes towards breast cancer research) as a gift from my mom.  At the time, my mom was just as clueless about knitting needles as I was, and had bought me the set solely because she knew I had started knitting again (and was grumbling about having to buy yet another circular needle) and because the set was pink (bless her dear heart). 

When I got the Denise kit, I was pretty darn excited.  Maybe it was the way the kit was laid out in the packaging, maybe it was the excitement of being able to knit an entire project without having to run to the yarn shop halfway through to get another needle, or maybe it was the pink cables (yeah, most likely it was the pink cables) but I couldn't wait to give these babies a go.


:: Pros ::
♥ The tips are made of resin (a type of plastic) and are extremely lightweight, making them absolutely perfect for those with arthritis and/or hand and wrist problems.

♥ All the tips have their size engraved in them.  So there's no need to root around for a needle sizer in order to find a matching pair.

♥ Connecting the tips to the cables is super easy and without the need of a key.  How easy you ask?  You insert the cable into the tip and twist to lock in place.  That's it.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

♥ Like the Knit Picks Interchangeable set, the joins on the Denise also have a little hole in it that you can use to thread a lifeline through.  These holes are actually for knitters who have hand or wrist problems so that they can use a straightened paperclip to lock and unlock the joins without having to apply gripping pressure, but why not use them for lifelines too?

♥ Even though they're not your typical lengths, you get 6 different cables in varying lengths.  The kit also comes with 2 extenders so that you can create practically an infinite amount of different lengths to suit your needs.

♥ You can make a 17" circular.  Perfect for hat knitting!  I know the main concern and complaint for a lot of knitters who have interchangeables is the option of a 16" circ.  You can go even smaller and make a 12" circular but I find that the tips are too long to knit comfortably, and sometimes at all, with them.  If you are a continental knitter or at least someone who has very minimal movement in their knitting, the 12" circ might not be a problem at all.

♥ The entire kit comes in a compact case that is seriously no bigger than a book.  Everything has their own spot in the case, and if you're anal-retentive (like I am when it comes to this type of stuff), it's easy to put back all the pieces in their rightful place.  This also makes it easy to see what you are missing too.

♥ I feel like you can do this with any interchangeable set, but with the Denise kit advertises that you can turn your circulars into a pair of straight needles.  The cables are just firm enough to hold up in being used as straights, just twist on your tips and a set of end buttons and you're good to go.

♥ All the cables can be used as a stitch holder.  The smallest cable in the kit is 5", which is pretty much the same length as those metal stitch holders that are shape like an oversized safety pin.

♥ Pretty darn affordable.  They're priced the same as the Knit Picks Zephyr Interchangeable set and considering that this set is marketed as a circular and straight interchangeable kit, the price is a steal. 

♥ All knitterly parts are guaranteed for life (sorry case, you get the shaft), granted that the problem doesn't involve extreme heat or cold.

♥ Airline safe.  The Denise kit is practically guaranteed to pass through airport security since the tips are made of resin and are apparently "shorter than a pen".  I don't know about that last part as I know of a knitter who had their tiny bamboo DPNs for socks confiscated (those things are seriously like toothpicks).  Although, the makers of Denise do encourage you to take off the tips, cap off your cables with the provided end buttons, and place the tips among your pens and pencils.  Just in case.


:: Cons ::
♥ I find knitting with natural fibres, especially wool, a little slow as there's quite a considerable drag along the needles.

♥ The tips of the smaller sizes are way too flexible for my liking.  I don't get the sensation that I'm going to snap them in half, but the bendy-ness does slow me down in the sense that I try to knit "lightly" so as to not bend them too much.

♥ Even though the cables are flexible, they're still a little firmer than I like them to be.  I also find them too thick and because they're made of plastic, have a fair bit of drag to them as well.  I've tried using them for Magic Loop and after a few stitches I couldn't handle it any more and had to switch to different needles.  The cables were just too much for me and on top of it, they memorized each bend and how they lay in the case.

♥ The joins aren't smooth.  There's a little groove at the end of the tips to make them easier for you to grip them when connecting them to the cable, and I find that my stitches usually get stuck in there and I have to help them along.  Mind you, I'm a tight knitter so all you loose knitters might have better luck using these needles.  

♥ The smallest needle size in the kit is a 3.75mm (US 5).  I mainly knit with finer yarns and gauges and my most commonly used size needle is a 3.5mm (US 4).  So...

♥ Like I mentioned above in the Pros section, all the tips are engraved with the needle size...but in the US size system.  So anyone using the metric system is screwed.  Ok, not really.  But I do know a fair amount of knitters who straight up can't or have a hard time converting between the 2 systems.  I use both systems interchangeably, so I don't have an issue with this, but if you do don't worry too much - at least the case has both stamped above and below the slots where the tips belong.

♥ As handy as it is to have pre-molded slots in the case, it also makes it a hassle if you were to purchase extras of anything.  Or this could be the excellent marketing of Denise to make you want to purchase their special organizer.



:: My General Thoughts ::

Right off the bat I'm going to admit that I don't like plastic needles.  I was super excited when I first tried this kit but was soon put off by the thick cables.  I really wanted to like this kit, if not for all that you can do with it, but because my mom bought it for me.  Sadly, after a few tries I realized that I'm just not a fan of knitting with them.  Knitting is such a tactile thing and I have to say that I don't really care for the feel of the needles.  I can ignore the feel of the needles but the firmness of the cables is too much for me to overlook.  The only reason why I keep this kit in my arsenal of knitterly tools is because of the 17" circular needle that I use for hat knitting.  I don't have the biggest selection of fixed 16" circulars, and the ones that I do own are a little uncomfortable to use due to the shorter needle length.  

I do, however, think this kit would be a great starter set for a beginner.  Even though a lot of beginners might balk at the price tag I think that being able to convert this kit from circulars to straights, as well as the sizes included, newbies will actually be saving a fair amount of money on their needle collection.  This kit offers larger needle sizes (up to 10mm (US 15)), which a lot of other sets don't include and makes it even more perfect for beginners since bulkier yarns and quick knits are the usual and popular choices at this skill level.  

But would I recommend this kit?  Well...not really.  Maybe it's because I just can't see pass the thick cable issue, but I think any other kit but this one would benefit most knitters in the long run.  I know users of the Denise kit are fiercely loyal, and I can see that there really are a lot of wonderful attributes that this kit has to offer, but I just didn't like my knitting experience with it.  A worsted weight, maybe even a DK weight hat that's knit in a day, I can handle.  But a fingering weight cardigan?  Not so much.

Diehard Denise fans, please don't hate me.



Disclaimer :: 
I purchased these needles myself and wrote this review on my own free will.  I received no compensation from the company mentioned in this post for this review.  I am not affiliated with the company mentioned in this post, nor do I endorse them and vice versa.  I simply am passionate about the art and craft of knitting and this review is based on my own experiences with the products mentioned.  These are my opinions and I am not being paid to say them.

2 comments:

  1. I've snapped 3 cable tips off. 2 in the last month. I bought my Denise a few years back and broke one almost right away so I put it aside while I bought a needle to finish what I was working on. Yrs passed before I came across the kit again and decided to use it to make.... hats!! One of my cable tips was bent when I got the set but in the last month I broke 2 other tips, the bent one is still going strong. I'm done with it, went and picked up a Boye interchangable today, not sure about tightening the cables on but so far I am liking knitting with it. The hat that was on the Denise seems to fit loose on the Boye. Not much selection in my area on a sunday. Got my Boye at Micheals for 99.99 plus taxes. I'm in Canada, we tax everything but air. The only other set there cost 299.99. Not spending that kind of cash on knitting needles. lol

    Like you, I would not recommend Denise to a fellow knitter, nope. I got mine cheap on ebay or would probably have gotten something else myself.

    I really enjoyed your blog on this. Very well written.

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  2. I actually love my set and have used them for almost a decade.... I prefer the resins but also have some bamboo needles I use some also.... I am not a very fast knitter though and love that my stitches don't fall off easily, also I do Tunisian crochet so it's nice have both sets so I can use he cables and extras for a variety of projects. Everyone has diffferent loves and it's interesting hearing why works or doesn't for people... helps people know what to try if they are newer.

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