The science bit

We’ve recently started stocking Knitpro Cubics interchangeable knitting needle tips. They’re very attractive objects, made from the same rosewood effect birch as the Swarovski crystal crochet hook set or the deluxe interchangeable needles.

You might very well want to try a set of these just for the novelty value. But that’s not the only reason for considering them. Claims have been made that square needles offer distinct benefits over their round counterparts: specifically, that they knit more evenly and that they are much easier on the knitter’s joints.

So when they reached us, we decided to test them. The experiment took the following form: knit a swatch with both round and square needles of the same size with identical yarn, and have both parts of it knitted by the same knitter.

The experiment yielded the following data:

In the image above, the portion on the right was knitted with 5.00mm Knitpro Symphonie round tips. The portion on the left was knitted with 5.00mm Knitpro Cubics square tips. The yarn was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. 32 stitches were cast on.

It’s fairly clear that tension varies considerably across the two needle types: even without measuring and counting, the stitches in the square-needle portion are smaller than those in the round-needle portion. When the swatch was washed, blocked and measured the differences were properly quantifiable: with round tips, gauge was 18 stitches and 25 rows to 10cm; with square tips, 20 stitches and 28 rows to 10cm.

In other words, to make a jumper 40″ around, you’d need 180 stitches on the round tips but 200 on the square. What’s more, if this knitter used the square tips when the round tip tension was required, the jumper would come out 36″ around (and four inches too tight is a lot too tight). If the round tips were used where the square tension was needed, it would come out more than four inches too loose.

But the swatch has more to tell us than that. The work of this knitter has already appeared on the blog in this post about tension differences between knitting flat and in the round. She rows out when she knits stocking stitch flat, because she purls more loosely than she knits. You can see the ridges caused by the rowing out in the picture above (more prominent by far in the round-tip section). But when the swatch is turned over, the difference becomes even more striking.

This experiment would appear to confirm the hypothesis that there is more than just novelty to square needles. For this knitter, they yield tighter and more even stitches, with a more even fabric. She’ll be using them again. A lot.

It is important to note that this experiment did not address the issue of joint discomfort. Further investigation would be required to reach a conclusion on this matter.

Comments

  1. Maryl

    Interesting experiment……………….wondering – Do you feel the squareness of the needle while using it?

  2. I’ve tried these too and the answer is “yes”; you do feel it a bit at the start, and then it begins to feel normal. Once the initial “oddness” passes they are very comfortable to use and I found I could knit for longer stretches without having to look at my work.

  3. AoifeC

    I concur! I have a set of cubics dpns for socks and they do feel more comfortable now (probably got over the ‘oddness’ by the end of the first cuff). The work appears more even so my feet are very satisfied with the results…and you know that happiness is comfortable shoes and handmade socks:)