I finally found my FAVORITE Circular Knitting Needles! The COLONIAL ROSEWOOD Circular Needles! Yes, they are pricey - very pricey - but are absolutely FABULOUS! The points are sharp, the join is smooth, the cables are soft (but not sticky), and DO NOT COIL! These are fantastic!
Here are some pictures:
The Colonial Rosewood in size US6 and the Colonial Bamboo in size US11
Points of the Colonial Needles
Join on the Colonial Needles
Holz and Stein Needles - Points
Rosewood Size US5 and Ebony Size US3
Holz and Stein - Join
Pony Pearl Circs (Orange)/Balene II (White), both size US11 - Points
Pony Pearls and Balene IIs - Join
See how Straight the Colonials are? They are the ones with the black cable.
The Clover Bamboo needles are okay, but I find the tip to be somewhat blunt. If you are working with lace yarn, you will go crazy with them (unless you sharpen them). The join on the Clovers is very similar to the Pony Pearl and Balene IIs, as is the cable.
I went to the LYS and looked at some Addi's too. I have decided that it looks like most of the Circs are now being made with a similar, if not the same join as pictured above, and the cables are all that stiff fishing line type material.
So - I have decided that my Favorite Circs are the Colonial Rosewoods, with the Colonial Bamboo following. I love everything about these needles - the tips, join, and high quality wood/bamboo used to make them - but I especially love the cable! The only downside is the price, but you get what you pay for!
My next choice is Holz and Stein. I like the woods, the tip and the join, but am not entirely thrilled with the cable. The price isn't too horribly bad.
Next I would choose between Addi Natura and Clover Bamboo. The stiff cables still drive me crazy. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I still like the Clover Bamboo, even though they are blunt with a stiff cable - there's just something about them. Maybe its the price.
I sort of liked the Tips on the Balene II, but not the cable. The plastic material isn't bad either, but I prefer wood or bamboo.
And last but not least are the Pony Pearls. I thought the tip was a little blunt, but manageble with the right yarns. Again its the plastic thing with me, its just not my all time favorite.
Oh Wait! - Lets not forget about the Denise Interchangable Needles. These are nice for travelling or quick projects - I like the tips and the soft cable, but the join drives me insane. I am constantly hanging up on the little finger cut outs at the join. I have been told to turn the needles slightly, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. The cable is soft and nice, but somewhat sticky. I have to push my yarn along to get it to go around. I find the needle length to be a little shorter than what I can comfortably work with too. What is nice about this set is the convenience. It is really nice to have the different size needles with varying lengths of cable, all packaged in a nice case that you can take just about anywhere.