In Jest slippers by Anna Tillman

This is the first time I've knitted a project for felting (deliberate felting!)

I couldn't believe she was being serious when a friend picked these and asked me to make them for her. They're the most fun pattern in Anna Tillman's book, and they look quite ridiculous when knitted to the pattern before felting.
 I knew that knitted fabric shrinks when felting, but I'd no idea just how much. And of course this means that there's a lot of knitting to do. Even though they're knit on 5mm needles, each was like a full-length sleeve and seemed to take an age.
The result is so worth it. The felt is sturdy and thick and looks much neater than the original knitting. Here they are with my hand for scale - pull the other one, it's got bells on!

Debra's Garden needle sizers and row counters

These Debra's Garden needle sizers are accurate and beautiful. I've stocked them for a long time at but have recently had low stock. Today a delivery arrived, so I have many of the colours in stock.
The needle sizers come in metric (2mm - 10mm with some quarter sizes) and sock/lace (0.75mm - 4mm with many quarter sizes).

Debra also makes these row counters / yarn cutters. The inner dial counts 1-10 while the outer dial counts 10's. in th 50 position, a blade is exposed which is a handy yarn cutter.

All of these items are fitted with a split ring and can be worn as jewellery, used as a keyring or zip-pull.

I love casting on

... so I've done it twice in one day! It's the expectation, promise (or perhaps hope) of a wonderful finished project that's so exciting.

The second is only the gauge swatch. This is the speed-spun wool top from the previous post. It did floof up a bit with a wash and looks and feels so lovely. The gauge is just about right, a little small if anything (normal for me) I won't go up a needle size, just make sure that when I spin the yarn proper, I'll try to make it the tiniest bit fuller.
I won't use it white, I'll dye it before I knit and try to get exactly the same dark red as per the pattern:
The first new project is another pair of socks. This yarn is spun from Monet's Pond from picperfic, I did that during Tour de Fleece earlier this year.
I found the perfect pattern, Coralicious Socks by Paula McKeever:

Fast drafting experiments - part two

Still preparing for Spinzilla, this is part two of my drafting experiments using this prepared wool from Curtis Wools - it's really easy to spin and does half the work.

I read somewhere recently about someone splitting their fibre and pulling it through a diz. Because I want a nice, smooth (non-woollen) and relatively fine yarn for this project (below) this could be a fast way to make the yarn and be a suitable job for the Spinzilla week.
Ardelise from Knit Rhapsody
The cardy I want to make uses sport-weight yarn, that'll be a long knit!

I found the diz a bit clumsy, but splitting the yarn down several times and then pre-drafting by hand in the usual way took no time and made the top ready to spin very quickly and evenly.
The resulting two-ply yarn may be a little too fine, I'll measure the WPI after washing and try a swatch. I could go three-ply for a very even yarn, or just spin a little thicker.

Colour chart for new Zing range

The new zing range are finished in metallic colours, different for each size. Here's the colour chart:

Metallic colours for each size in the new Knitpro Zing range

These colours apply to the double-point needles, single-point needles and fixed circulars. The size is laser-engraved on each needle. I'm hoping that interchangeable circular tips and cables will be available at some point, but no official word about that yet!

The Zing range is available here.

Which needles are stronger, Zing or Nova? A test to destruction

A recent question about whether new aluminium Zing needles are strong or flimsy got me thinking about doing this comparison.

The Zings are aluminium whereas their Nova siblings are brass. But then the Zings are solid, I believe, and the Novas are hollow. In a recent test I found the Novas are the heaviest of the Knitpro range (at least of the ones I stock).

I also decided to add an Addi lace circular to my death row (because I'm curious). All are 2.5mm diameter. One thing I'd not noticed before - the Zing tips are slightly longer than the others.
Here's the setup; a container suspended from one end of the needle, with the other clamped to the table. I slowly pour water into the container until the needle is permanently bent.
I'm sure you'll remember from your O level physics that when metal starts to bend, it bends in an elastic way, i.e. when you let go it springs back to its original shape (in this case straight). When you apply enough force it starts to bend in a 'plastic' way which means that it bends but doesn't spring back. That point is known as the 'elastic limit' and it's what we're looking for here.  When the needle bends, I weigh the container of water and we have a figure that we can use.

Note the careful measuring above - this is important because as you'll also remember, here we're demonstrating 'moments', in short the distance the weight and the fulcrum (the table) are apart will determine how easily the needle bends. All that matters is that it's the same for each test. 4" of needle protruding and the weight 3/4" from the tip.
So how did they do?

Knitpro Zing 1263g
Knitpro Nova 1607g
Addi Lace 973g
Addi Premium 880g

The heavier Nova comes out on top, but not hugely. Both flexed quite a long way as the weight was added, but as mentioned earlier, if the needle sprung back straight when the weight was eased, then we kept going. The difference is the point that the needle wouldn't spring back.

As you can see, at the eleventh hour I condemned an Addi Premium too (aka Turbo) - the Lace bent so much more easily than the Knitpros (It surprised me - I destroyed the other end as well to be sure). I wanted to see whether there was a difference between their lace and premium needles. But both seem in the same ballpark, and can take around half the punishment of the Knitpros.


The Zings will bend (permanently) a little sooner than Novas, but both take quite a bit of force before bending. Around double that of a competitor. There are plenty of other differences that should also come into your decision - tip taper and sharpness, finish, tip length (noted above), whether the size is marked on the needle and colour of course - users are loving the colours of the Zing range and that's important.

Buy Knitpro Zing needles here, buy Knitpro Nova needles here, and Addi lace needles here and Addi Premium here

Thanks to Mister Percival. I know we gave you a hard time but your efforts weren't wasted. I also notice that I mix imperial and metric units fairly wildly. A legacy for us children of the seventies!

How do Knitpro's Zing needles compare with Karbonz?

In my earlier comparison of the points on various metal needles, I missed out the Knitpro Karbonz - although carbon fibre, they have metal tips.
To the eye, I thought the zing matched the Karbonz (both slightly rounder than the Nova, on the right) but when magnified a little bit it does look as if the Zing comes somewhere between, less sharp than the Nova, maybe a little sharper than the Karbonz

... at least with these particular ones, all 3mm.

How about the joins and cables?
I've not noticed before that the cable is a little thicker than on the Karbonz (these are both 3mm x 80cm) I'm not sure whether the extra thickness will make any noticeable difference when knitting, and whether one would be better. As for the joins (which probably look a little more scary in this extreme close-up than in real life) to the thumbnail they feel just the same. Notice there's more of a taper on the Karbonz down to the thinner cable.
Another positive with the zings is that the size is laser engraved; you can feel it with your thumbnail. The Karbonz have the size printed on, which does wear with use - as you can see from my own needle above.