Many knitters are familiar with the Knit Picks line of interchangeable knitting needles, and the newest member of the family is Knit Picks Zephyr, a set of acrylic needles that can be purchased as a set (ranging in size from 4 to 11 US plus a set of four cables) or individually (available in sizes 4 to 17 US with five possible cable lengths).
I got a chance to try out a pair of size 7 US needles and was pretty impressed with what I experienced.
About the Needles
Knit Picks Zephyr acrylic knitting needles are sort of a middle ground between the other interchangeable needles in the Options line. The original Options are cool nickel; they're slick and smooth and help you knit quickly.
On the other hand the Harmony needles combine the warmth and stickiness of wood (these are made of birch) with pretty multicolored tips that are fun to use.
The Zephyrs are clear acrylic, giving them more of the feel of a plastic needle, but a little warmer and more pleasant. The needles are somewhat flexible and though the needles themselves are smooth they don't feel as slick when knitting as metal needles, nor quite as sticky as wooden needles.
Knititng with Zephyr
I used the needles for a couple of different projects before writing this review and I found them easy to work with, lightweight and easy on the body.
The Knit Picks people have said that the needles were designed with travel knitting in mind, and I can see packing up a project or two on these needles and not feeling like I have to worry about the durability of the needles or my comfort in working on the project while away from home.
As with other Knit Picks needles, the joins to the cables are smooth, and using the needle tightening tool that comes with the set can help prevent the needle tips from unwinding from the cable as you work.
I used the needles for straight Stockinette Stitch knitting as well as working a cable project and I found the needles to hold the stitches nicely, only once having some of them slip off the needle when working the cable.
To some extent the needles remind me of the Denise Interchangeables, though perhaps with a bit more grip.
The Bottom Line
Are Knit Picks Zephyrs a knitting essential? Probably not, especially if you already have a couple of sets of interchangeables that you like. They are a nice, light but hardworking needle that you might want to have a supply of if you travel a lot.
If you're just starting to build your supply of needles, give one of these a shot to see if you like them enough to buy the whole set.
Personally, I think I still like the Harmony needles most of any of the Knit Picks Options line, but knitting needles are a very personal thing. I would certainly use these needles again, and possibly buy more of them, but they probably wouldn't be the first needles I would reach for when starting a project.
Update: When knitting with these needles I managed to break one of the tips, with a little help from my daughter, who was pulling on the cable at the time. While breaking needles is always a possibility, this surprised me, because I assumed acrylic needles would be stronger than that. I'm not saying you'll have a problem if you use these needles, but it's something to think about, especially if you're rough on needles.