Kollage Yarns makes some really fun yarns out of such products as corn, soy, milk and recycled denim, but it's also well known for its kind of strange looking square knitting needles. The word on these needles -- available in straights, DPNs and fixed circulars, as well as crochet hooks -- is that they're easier on the hands that round needles and make more even stitches effortlessly.
The company sent me a couple of needles to try in celebration of their moving production of the needles to the United States and I found them quite interesting to work with. The main issue you will find with these needles is that your gauge will be somewhat different from the needles you're used to.
Knitting in the Square
I received two different needles to try: a size 6 US (4mm) circular with their soft cable known as a K-Kable and a size 3 US (3.25 mm) with a firm cable. The firm cable is more like a traditional cable needle, while the softer cable is rubbery and floppy.
I actually really liked the soft cable, but both are nice and not kinky right out of the package. The joins of the aluminum needles to the cables are perfect, making for smooth, easy knitting.
Because of the gauge issue, which we'll talk more about below, I found the knitting more difficult when I was first getting started than I would have expected, but once I loosened up a bit it was nice to work with the needles. I also felt like the size 6 needles were a little sharp, but when I used the size 3 needles with a yarn that was more compatible with them I didn't find them sharp or difficult to work with.
I'm not sure I knit with them long enough at a stretch to know if they're really better for fatigue and repetitive stress injuries, but they did feel comfortable to work with, and they did produce nice, even stitches.
One important thing to know about these needles that is not actually mentioned on the package (but is on the website where you would order the needles) is the advice that most knitters need to go up a size in needle to get the correct gauge with the square needles. I think for me it would be even more than one needle size.
I started out with the size 6 needle and some medium weight cotton and, as I mentioned, found it rather difficult to work at first. The second picture linked above shows the swatch I worked, half with the Kollage needle and half with a standard round needle. It's hard to see in that tiny picture, but the round needle part is noticeably looser in gauge and has more drape.
On the size 3 needle I tried Red Heart Heart and Sole, which calls for a size 2 needle. I got about 7.25 stitches per inch when I worked with it on regular size 2 needles, and 7 stitches per inch on the size 3 Squares.
Kollage Square knitting needles are fun to work with and definitely a conversation starter for knit night. They make nice, even stitches and may be easier on your body than knitting with traditional round needles. And those floppy K-Kables are really great, if you ask me.
If you are someone who is physically limited in your ability to knit, these needles are worth a try. If you're healthy enough to knit as much as you want, these needles aren't essential but they are pretty fun to work with, so long as you know that you may have an issue getting the same gauge that a pattern may call for.
The fact that these needles are also made in the United States could also be a deciding factor in choosing these needles if that's something that's important to you.