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Product Review: Prym Ergonomic Knitting Needles by Nadine

Before we start I should perhaps make a confession, when it comes to knitting needles I have simple tastes. I am not normally one to be caught up in the latest trends, popular brands or hot new needles, when it comes down to it I have one basic question – can I knit with it? If the answer is yes then that is usually enough and I'm away on with the project. I was however intrigued when I saw some adverts for the new Prym Ergonomics Knitting Needles which extolled the virtues of the innovative new shape and design and showed lots of happy ladies knitting. When I saw an email from Minerva Crafts calling for product testers and the Prym Ergonomics were on the list I decided it must be fate and signed up to give them a try.

So, what is all the fuss about/what is so innovative about these new needles? Surely if it has a pointy bit at one end you can knit with it right? It doesn't need to be much more complicated than that does it? The design team at Prym seem to think there is actually a bit more to it than that and have come up with 3 main points of innovation (these are taken directly from the Prym website):

 

1.      “The new drop-shaped tips optimize the picking up and guiding of the yarn. These hook tips make the start easy for the beginner and enable the experienced knitter to work quickly and quietly - even with complicated patterns”

2.      “First round, then triangular - the triangle shape of the shaft offers as few contact points as possible to the piece of knitting. The stitches can thus glide noticeably freer along the needle shaft - for more fun when knitting without having to push the stitches along as one knits”

3.      “Two ideas have been combined in the click heads: These ingeniously designed end knobs simply clip together two needles as a pair - and as soon as the knitting is on the needle, the stitches are secured between the two click heads. In this way the click heads function as integrated stitch stoppers”

Sounds fancy doesn't it. In order to find out if these were really the hot new thing and a must have for any keen knitter I agreed to trial the single point needles in both the 3mm and 6mm sizes. Being a bit of a geek I worked out a plan for testing the needles as thoroughly as possible so I set about creating swatches which covered the following elements:

·         100% wool yarn

·         alpaca/ silk blend yarn

·         acrylic yarn

·         lace stitches

·         textured stitches

·         stocking/ stockingette stitch

·         ribbing

·         stranded colour work

·         cables

·         bobbles

I could have got carried away and gone even further with my swatching, for instance I didn't test them to see how they fared when it came to picking up stitches, but this would have meant my toddlers turning feral and running around in some Lord of the Flies type adventure whilst I sat knitting in a corner for hours on end.

With these tests in mind, how did the needles perform? I have to say the results were mixed depending on the size of the needles.

Lets start with yarn type/ fibre composition, both sizes coped well with the 100% wool yarn, by coped well I mean the stitches flowed well and it was comfortable to work with. Acrylic yarns and the alpaca/silk blend flowed well over the 3mm needles but were considerable more “sticky” and tough to work on the 6mm, a lot of stitch manipulation was needed to slide them along the needles but I shall come back to this later when I talk through how the needles live up to the manufacturers claims.

As I'm more likely to work with smaller gauge yarn I decided to test the different stitch types on only the 3mm needles. I'll take the stitch types in order:

Lace stitches – I tried a simple yo, k2tog, k1 lace rather than a more complex design and I wasn't that happy with the process, the tips weren't pointed enough to make knitting the 2 stitches together effortless and neat.

Textured stitches – I worked a straight forward checked stitch with 3 rows of k3, p3 followed by 3 rows of p3,k3. No problems, a good comfortable knit which I suspect would apply to most textured stitches based on just knit and purl stitches.

Ribbing – an ordinary 1x1 rib posed no problems at all, I can't guarantee that a twisted rib would be as easy but that is a whole other set of swatches.

Stockingette – quick, easy and comfortable, I did have the odd split stitch but no more than I would with any other needles I have previously worked with.

Stranded colour work – I knit my stranded colour work 2 handed and this seemed to work relatively well, the only aspect to complicate the process was the flexibility of the needle but I shall return to that in a minute.

Cables – with a C6F pattern I found no issues of concern.

Bobbles – I should have known that if k2tog was difficult then k5tog when making bobbles was never going to be a pleasurable experience, not only was it not pleasurable I also ended up permanently bending the needle! One solution would be to use a crochet hook for knitting together more than 2 stitches at a time but realistically I would just avoid patterns featuring bobbles full stop with these needles.

When it comes to needle flexibility, this was only an issue with the 3mm needles, the 6mm needles were stable and reliable. Even before I permanently bent the 3mm making bobbles it was already making life difficult by flexing and bending during the course of knitting the swatches. The left hand needle was fine it was only the right hand needle (see picture). I thought this could have been as a result of my knitting style, I knit English style with my yarn in my right hand and I hold the right hand needle on top (possibly betraying my working class origins) so I decided to alter my hand positioning/knitting style to see if this helped. Holding the right hand needle from underneath (more like a pen), tucking the right hand needle under my arm or knitting continental style with the yarn in my left hand made no difference the right hand needle still moved and flexed whilst knitting so much so that I was worried that I would snap it!

Returning to the 3 innovative selling points, the tear drop-shaped tip, the triangular shaft and the click heads:

1.      Tear drop-shaped tips – it is claimed that these help you pick up/ work stitches more easily and efficiently, this may be true in part. I had some difficulty knitting the first row after the cast on as it just felt a bit tight and awkward, without further experimentation I couldn't say for definite that this was entirely down to the needles rather than just a side effect of me using a tight cast on. Knitting during the body of the swatch did seem to flow nicely (but still with the odd split stitch) and as I am a pusher/ poker when knitting, the tear drop shape was a lot kinder on my finger tips than needles with a sharper point.

2.      Triangular shaft – the shaft is only triangular up until about an inch before the needle tip and over the triangular section stitches did indeed seem to slide up and down the needle more freely however as soon as they hit the traditional circular shaped section at the tip this ease of movement/ flow was lost. This was particularly acute when using the 6mm needles, when using the alpaca/ silk blend and the acrylic yarns I physically had to push the stitches over the hump where the shaft transitions from triangular to circular. The 100% wool yarn didn't seem to suffer from this problem.

3.      Click heads – as a concept this is a fabulous idea, having needles that lock together so you can just throw them in to a project bag without requiring needle stoppers, safe in the knowledge that your knitting isn't going to come off the needles and that you aren't going to have to spend the first 10 minutes each time you get your knitting out picking up dropped stitches. In practice the click heads are not quite so wonderful. There is a definite “sweet spot” for getting the needles to click together faffing about finding this each time you want to put your knitting down may become quite tiresome. The second issue is that they don't lock securely, the slightest bump or jolt of the needles and they pop open again.

My conclusion – if you prefer simple knits with medium to larger gauge yarns (DK upwards) and have a tendency towards real wool yarns then you would probably be happy with these needles, but if you prefer to work with fine yarns regardless of fibre composition then the single tips might not be for you. That being said I feel it only fair to extend my knitting experiments in the future and test out how to Prym Ergonomics perform in smaller sizes in the circular needles, any excuse for more knitting.

Thanks for reading,

Nadine @ The Many Knits of Nadine

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