I love interchangeable knitting needles – I virtually never knit on straight needles anymore, mostly because I like seamless garments but also because I find them easier to handle and travel with.
For those not familiar with interchangeable circular needles here is what you need to know:
You can use them for all types of knitting: flat, circular large diameter and circular small diameters (using magic loop or two circulars). So it is the only type you need to have.
Here is what they look like. (These are Knit Pro Spectra, kindly provided for review by loveknitting.com)
With these needles, and many others, you screw the tip to the cable and then tighten it using the key. You will often also get stoppers (not pictured) provided that can be used to hold the stitches on the needle when you remove the tips. Many brands have pieces that allow you to join two cables together to make a variety of longer lengths from your shorter cables.
You can buy them in sets where you get a variety of cables and needle tips, often in a handy carry case. Or you can buy them individually. If you buy them individually you will need to buy both a cable and a pair of tips. (the cable normally comes with a key and stoppers) make sure you buy the same brand needle tips and cable as they are proprietary joins and you can’t mix and match across brands.
The advantage of interchangeable over fixed length circulars are that you need to buy less as
1/ you can change the length by changing the cord
2/ you can remove the tips for use on another project and leave the cord in place with stoppers attached
This means you can buy a few different cables in different lengths and the cables are not very dear to buy and then only have one pair of tips in each size. (provided you don’t lose needles or forget which WIP they are in!)
The disadvantage of interchangeables over fixed circulars is that they will have a join and this can sometimes come undone or catch the yarn. Although I find that my preferred needle, Knit Pro never comes undone or snags provided I tighten it fully with the key (I had some early disasters before I learnt this lesson though!)
Next time I will be reviewing 3 of the different tip options for the Knit Pro range.