Kollage Yarns is as well-known for its innovative needles as it is for its excellent knitting yarns. The company behind such delights as the milk-filled Creamy and Corntastic made, of course, out of corn, is also the company behind square knitting needles, which are said to be easier on knitters and to produce more even stitches.
The needles were manufactured overseas until recently, when their production was brought to America. I talked to Susan Moraca, one of the company's owners, about the needles, bringing production home and how consumers have responded.
About: First, could you tell me a little bit about the history of the Square® needles?
Susan Moraca: After our first year in business, we wanted to thank our customers for their support with a nice gift. My father-in-law, Mario, is great with woodworking, so I asked him to make me rosewood knitting needles. He bought a variety of colors in rosewood and began making the needles.
When he showed us the sample needles so we could choose the color, they were square, as he had not rounded them. I was so intrigued. I could not wait to get my hands on them. I wondered what would happen if you knit with a square needle? Would the stitches be square?
I listened patiently as he explained all the colors. As soon as I got them into my hands and started knitting with them, I could not believe how good they felt, and my knitting was beautiful.
Little did we know that our shops would want to order them. Mario could not keep up with manufacturing; golfing got in the way. We tried to have them made in the U.S. and could not so had no choice but to manufacture out of the country. After they got on the market, we began receiving tons of testimonials from customers who purchased our Square needles saying they were able to knit again.
They had all but quit knitting due to hand fatigue, carpal tunnel or arthritis. We began to realize that not only were they fun, but they had function as well. We decided to expand the line to include circulars, double points and crochet hooks.
About: What difference does the shape make?
SM: The square shape makes more uniform stitches. They are also more comfortable in your hands, as you do not have to grip them as hard. We have hundreds of testimonies from people with arthritis and carpal tunnel who say that their hands do not hurt when they use the Square® needles and that they can knit longer.
About: Why did you decide to bring production to America?
SM: We wanted complete control over the quality of our product and to bring the jobs to the U.S. Our main goal was to have the smoothest joins we could make on the circulars.
About: What are some of the challenges of switching to American made?
SM: Our first challenge was the expense. Everything had to be custom made for all the different processes to make the needles. It’s not like you just run to the local hardware store and buy stuff off the shelf. Make the needles, join the needles, mark the needles, package . . .
Secondly, Mark [Susan's husband and business partner] had to learn how to operate the machinery. This meant he was out of town a lot. You might say we both took on second jobs. In the evening, he would return e-mails and try to do as much as he could. In the office . . . well let’s just say I am really glad he’s home now.
About: What’s the reaction been to the change?
SM: The response we are getting is amazing. Bringing jobs back to the U.S. is very important. We made some design changes. The tips are sharper and our joins are flawless. We had them at TNNA and our shops were elated and supportive.
When we talk to consumers at Stitches, they could not be happier. The new titanium color and smoother joins are what people seem to love the most.
About: Anything else you want to add?
SM: We are continuing to add sizes, lengths and styles of Square® needles and crochet hooks. Our manufacturing right here in the USA has given us more control and will give us the ability to offer custom sizes, lengths and even custom messages on the Square® needles.