Nobody actually needs to knit these days. Mass produced knitwear is generally less expensive than hand-knitting can be, particularly if you are not fussy about what it is made of and how it is made. So knitting is not just a way of making things, it is (certainly for all the knitters I know) an end in itself. It's the old adage about travelling hopefully, although it is also very satifsying to arrive at the finished article.
Bearing that in mind, I prefer not to knit with synthetic yarns, I like good quality natural materials - although that does mean that I tend to stick to smaller projects. The process of knitting should be pleasant, or why are you bothering, and for me that means knitting with nice needles. Knitting needles come made in four different materials: metal, plastic, bamboo and wood. Metal needles tend only to come in smaller sizes (presumably because of potential weight issues) and although I have inherited a lot of these from my mother, I don't particularly enjoy using them, I don't like the scraping noise they sometimes make. Plastic needles? I don't know how they can be both sticky and slippery but somehow they are: my hands stick but the yarn slides off - I don't like plastic.
I find bamboo and wood both much more pleasant to use, not quite as speedy for fast knitting, as the yarn doesn't slide quite so easily, but that suits me as I'm not a stunningly fast knitter anyway, and it makes stitches less likely to slide off accidentally. They feel light and warm in the hand, and the slimmer sizes tend to have a little bit of "give," which makes them pleasant to use.
In that case, why opt for the more expensive wood? Well, bamboo needles are often not just less expensive but cheaper, if you see what I mean. Less well finished, and bit rougher. Brittany birch needles on the other hand are always high quality, and beautifully smooth. The single point needles also have a decorative finial on the end, which adds to the pleasurable experience of using them.
Brittany also produce double-pointed needles, which conveniently come in sets of five, rather than the more common four. This enables you to knit on four rather than three, if you prefer, or just gives you a spare, which is handy. Some of the finer sock dpns come in sixes - they know me too well!
Brittany needles which, surprisingly are made in the US rather than in France, are widely available, including Amazon, and prices vary considerably according to the size and style that you choose. These are more expensive than other alternatives, but you're going to keep using them again and again, so why not use the best. You and your knitting are worth it!
First off - I'm not entirely sure why Brittany needles are called that - they are made from Californian Birch and don't appear to have been anywhere near France at any point.
I have bought and played with lots of different sorts of knitting needles and these would always be my first choice if I had to choose a pair in a new size. Wooden knitting needles are not as popular as you might think in the modern knitting world. There are many good (and bad) needles made of metal and plastic and these seem equally popular. This is where choosing a knitting needle becomes a little like Mr Olivanders wand shop.
It is impossible to compare needles without talking about the materials they are made of. Skip this bit if you already know about wand needle materials.
Metal is considered a speedy needle to knit with and wood rather slow in comparison. But metal needles can make your fingers cold which can be hard on old, tired hands. Plastic can be quick and a bit warmer but they don't feel that nice to knit with, sort of stiff with no give. Bamboo is hugely popular (and much cheaper) but I think is overrated. Bamboo needles seem to split easily and some even have splinters in when you first buy them both of which snag the wool and slows down progress hugely. I know some lace knitters who prefer this because it ensures their knitting doesn't fall off the needles but it drives me yampy. Wood in general is a bit slower, but the needles get nice and warm in your hands and they have give. "Give" means that your arms aren't being held so stiffly and therefore ache less. To non knitters this may sound crazy but knitting with achey arms in the wrong position can make arthritis unbearable and create carpal tunnel problems.
So wood is great and Brittany needles are the best wooden needles in my opinion.
I love Brittany needles because they are totally smooth and never have rough edges that catch on the wool. Pair them with alpaca yarn and it is utter bliss - like knitting with butter. They come in cardboard reusable packaging which I find it useful to store them in. The sock needles come in fives which I much prefer than knitting with four needles and the very thin ones come in sixes in case you break one (I have sat on the odd sock needle myself). They have pretty carved ends on the straight needles. Unfortunately they don't make circular needles. They are a bit pricier than other needles but I think it is worth the money. These are my tools and I only need to buy them once so I would like the best quality I can afford.
Who would've thought I would have ever felt the need to review a brand of kniting needles or to describe them as I have done in the title, but this is what Brittany needles have brought me to.
I'd been knitting for years and always used the standard metal needles for everything from socks to oversized jumpers, I refused to use plastic needles and had never heard of wooden ones. Needing a new set of double pointed needles I went on an internet search and came across Brittany needles - pale, birch wood needles. They were slightly more expensive than the metal needles but they were also available in a shorter length than the metal needles. Having small hands I was intrigued to try these and ordered a pair.
And while we wait for them to be delivered ... Brittany needles is a company that has been around for more than 25 years. They use birch wood for there needles sourced from regulated forests or from small woodland owners in the US ensuring that the wood for their needles is sustainably sourced. I purchased double point needles (available in a wide range of sizes and three lengths) but they also produce crochet hooks and single point needles (available from 3.5mm to 20mm in two lengths) ...
The needles arrived in a small carboard wallet (recycleble or reuseable). The needles were warm to the touch, slightly flexible and with the name Brittany and the sixe of the needle lightly stamped onto them. This is a small touch of genius I feel as I usually need a needle gauge to figure out the size of double point needles.
The needles were very comfortable to use (wooden needles are supposed to be good for those with arthritis who wish to continue knitting), they were slightly more grippy than metal needles - a benefit when knitting a tube - but not so that it was difficult to remove the stitches from the needles. They were more flexible than metal needles of a similar size (2.5mm) but I got used to it quite quickly. On the whole the experiment of the wooden needles was successful and one I was more than happy to repeat.
This is where I have found a slight issue with the needles, after several uses little fine splinters of wood (not of the get stuck in your hand variety more like a soft little thread) were knocked of the point of one of the needles which would snag the yarn. I'm not sure if this is just a problem with the thinner needles, I haven't noticed it with my 3mm needles but I haven't used them as much and , as yet, I haven't purchased any significantly thicker needles, the splintering is solved with a little fine sandpaper. On researching the needles for this review I have found another possible solution - the UK distributors (and the US ones on another site) advertise a 5 year "no questions asked" guarantee, which is that if your needles are damaged for and reason they will replace them for free. Unfortunately I've had mine longer than this so I can't try it out for you and will have to stick to gentle sanding on the rare occasion a repair is required.
Bar the minor issue with occasional splinters I have thoroughly enjoyed using these needles, and next time I require a size of needle I don't already possess I will be looking at the Brittany needles rather than the metal, mainly for their superior knitting performance but just a little for their far superior beauty. Their many advantages out weigh their slightly higher price, I would give 4.5 stars if I could.
Anybody that knows me knows that I love crafting especially knitting, nearly every member of my family has recieved a knitted gift from me over the years.
I have noticed over the last couple of years that my fingers and hands ache if I use small sized needles even for a short time which then means I cannot knit for a couple of days. At the moment I am making a nativity set which calls for 3mm needles, well the other week I used the small sized needles and I landed up not being able to knit for 3 days which argggggh I hate watching tv and not knitting!
So I decided to have a look around on the internet to see if maybe I could find some different knitting needles.
I did a search on ebay and came across Britanny needles, there wasn`t much info on the sellers page so I decided to google britanny needles.
**About the website**
This is an american website but it gives you lots of details about their knitting needles and crochet hooks. There is a menu down the bottom of the page for :-
*Needles & Hooks
*Benefits of Wood
*How to Order
*About Our Pictures
*News & Notes
I am not going to go through each menu as I would be here all day but here are some of the menus that I found helpful.
This is an american family business that has been around for 25 years, they specialise in craft tools such as knitting needles and use birch for the needles. It says on the website and lots of crafting sites that I have come across that they only use wood from regulated forests or small woodland owners in the USA.
There are lots of different needles available , they come in 2 lengths 10" regular and 14" long. The sizes start from 3.25mm up to 20.00mm.
You can also buy double ended needles, cable and crochet hooks.
**Benefits of Wood**
I have got to say I did not know wooden needles exsisted! I have only ever used plastic (yuck!) or metal needles.
Brittany needles are made out of birch, the website claims that wood is warm,smooth and soft and won`t drain heat from sensitive fingers.
**The Brittany Guarantee**
Brittany needles have a 5 year guarantee which sounds good to me! So if you break your needles all you have to do is e-mail or phone them and they will send out a replacement.
There is an e-mail address and telephone number on the website.
I bought a pair of 3.25mm straight knitting needles from ebay, I paid £4.40 plus postage which is a lot more than what I would usually pay, I waited 2 days for delivery.
I chose the 10" length needles and I have just measured these needles and you actually get 10" of knitting space, then there is a little round nobbly bit to stop the stitches falling off and a tapered end, I love the ends of these knitting needles they look so posh and fancy! On the needles is written brittany 3.25 mm it is a little faint but I can see it.
** What do I think?**
Well as soon as my parcel arrived I opened the parcel and the knitting needles were sitting inside a brittany cardboard package. I took the needles out and held one and the first thing I noticed was how light it felt compared to my metal needles!
Of course I had to try these out straight away and they were a dream to knit with, the website is correct the wood feels very soft and smooth, the stitches glide onto the needle and do not split the yarn.
I really was not expecting the wood to have such a smooth finish, I thought they would feel rough and horrible!
I have been using these needles for a few days now and not one sign of aching fingers or hands!
I plan on buying more of these knitting needles soon as I will never use metal needles again.
I have read on a few craft websites in the Uk that these needles are perfect for arthritis sufferers. I do not have arthritis so cannot comment on that but I do know that now I am able to knit with small sized needles!
** One Last thing**
Well done to Brittany needles on the recycable cardboard! Much easier to dispose of than the plastic covers that usually come with knitting needles.
You cannot buy knitting needles directly from Brittany, but they are lots of crafting shops online where you can purchase them. My local craft shops do not stock them which is a shame.
Price - £4.40 for 3.25 mm 10" straight - ebay plus www.woollyworkshop.co.uk