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Knitting Needles: Where do they come from?

Feb 10, 2014

We knitters love our tools, and knitting needles are arguably the most important of knitting tools. (Although, what came first—the yarn or the needles?)

But how often do we think about where these treasured tools come from? Editorial Director Karin Strom and Interweave Knits Editor Lisa Shroyer  recently took a trip to India to visit the Knitter's Pride factory. Here's Karin to tell you all about their trip and what they learned.

    
Birch needles in process at the factory


The Needles We Knit With

The needles and hooks from manufacturer Knitter's Pride are made in a modern factory outside the famed Pink City of Jaipur in northern India. This past November, the company invited a group of women from the American yarn industry to tour the factory and explore the colorful country. It was an incredible adventure to share with fellow knitters: Interweave Knits editor Lisa Shroyer, Yarn Market News editor Erin Slonaker, and industry consultant Phyllis Howe.

The facility, dedicated purely to making needles and hooks, was built in 2011. We saw hundreds of smooth wooden dowels and metal poles transformed into circulars, straights, and interchangeables. It was fascinating to see how much handwork is required to make these tools, even though state-of-the-art machines are used throughout the process. We saw women sand wooden crochet hooks by hand, individually test each joint of interchangeables, and glue the metal tips onto carbon needle ends, one by one.

To see the genesis of the very tools we use in our craft was a unique experience. So often in our day-to-day lives, we pick up an item, a seemingly mundane tool or object, and don't think about where it comes from. Now, I won't be able to slide stitches down my needle without thinking about those wooden tools coming fresh and nude from the polisher, the shiny round shapes and new tips, hundreds upon hundreds, in so many colors.

Knitter's Pride got its start in the needle business from an industry that depends on another narrow wooden tool: the paintbrush. The basic technology for brushes can be adapted to make knitting needles, and from that realization, a new division of parent company Indeutsch (which includes a brush business) was born.

Another aspect of our visit was getting acquainted with the people and culture of this company. Generous, transparent, and eager to show us their homeland, the people of Knitter's Pride gave us a memorable trip. We visited the Taj Mahal, forts and palaces, open-air markets, and the sacred Ganges River. Suman Sharma, manager of sales and marketing and our faithful guide throughout, invited us to her own knitting group in Delhi—a group of women who met through Ravelry.

    

Students at Apna School (funded by
Knitter's Pride) welcome Karin Strom
and her companions.


We also became acquainted with the company's corporate giving, which includes establishing and continuing to fund a rural school that prioritizes the education of girls. Knitter's Pride executives are passionate about the advancement of girls and women, as the company's hiring policy demonstrates: any woman who wants a job with the company is hired, no exceptions. For women in remote villages, such economic opportunities are rare.

Because the end users of these needles are predominantly women, it's encouraging to know our crafting cash goes back to women in some important way.

You've probably heard it said before, but a trip to India is life-changing. The people, the landscapes, the architecture, the food, the handcrafts . . . all leave an indelible mark. I won't even mention the shopping.

You'll just have to go.

—Karin Strom, from Interweave Knits, Spring 2014


For Christmas, I got a set of Knitter's Pride Symfonie Rose Interchangeable Deluxe needles. Lucky me! I love the smooth, pointy rosewood needles so much. I've been knitting on them almost exclusively. They are beautiful.

I'm so glad to learn more about Knitter's Pride and the wonderful work they do. The knitting world is full of interesting, important stories like this one, and Interweave Knits brings them alive like no other publication. Get yourself the Spring 2014 issue of Interweave Knits today!

Cheers,

P.S. Sound off! What is your favorite type of knitting needle? Tell us in the comments!


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Comments

nupz24 wrote
on Aug 25, 2014 6:51 PM

I bought three of their needles from the Dreamz collection. Simply love them. Also very happy to know about the facility where they are made and the school that is helped by the same. Kudos!

jagwolfe wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:04 PM

I appreciate this kind of information about companies that produce knitting products. I agree with Essie B. I want to know about the companies so I can use my dollars to support ethical practices in the craft I love. Thanks for all you do.

Jane

darcimc wrote
on Feb 16, 2014 4:19 PM

It is interesting to note the various comments here. Firstly, I'm very excited for your group that Knitter's Pride actually invited you to look over their manufacturing facilities and see first-hand their corporate giving. Secondly, while I do understand how one commentor could take this post as an advertisement, I do NOT agree that there is an ethical issue or conflict in doing so. I read blogs to learn about products. Period. I may or may not agree with posters' viewpoints, however, I hardily believe in their first-amendment right to post their opinions. If there is a conflict, surely that is between Interweave and their sponsors. Lastly, when is an American company going to jump on the bandwagon and produce knitting and crochet components? I want to buy American! We're already producing chopsticks here to send to China...can't we also produce knitting needles?!

Lsharr wrote
on Feb 15, 2014 3:30 PM

I got a sampler set of Knitters Pride and really am fond of the rosewood needles.  I particularly like that they are not going to de-laminate on me and the cat gets near them and leaves a tooth mark it doesn't break the cat's tooth or the needle.  You need to be careful about steaming the cord with the needle on it though.  The size sort of wipes off (dunnh) when it's exposed to steam.

NoreenH@2 wrote
on Feb 15, 2014 1:46 PM

I just purchased a set of Knitter's Pride interchangeable 16" and love them.  It is great that all the sizes are imprinted on the tip unlike other sets.  It is really nice to know the who what when & where of the product you purchase.

Horsey450 wrote
on Feb 13, 2014 6:22 AM

I love Knit Picks "Harmony Wood" needles. The Knitter's Pride came out several years after I purchased my set. They are very pretty and look like they would be comfortable  

To work with.

EssieB wrote
on Feb 11, 2014 2:50 PM

I love my Knitter's Pride interchangeable needles. I bought a set when they were first available, and they are serving quite well (more than a year now).

I do not consider this piece advertising. The education of knowing how our tools are made and the ethics of the company is very important. I think we should be more mindful about where we spend our dollars. Some purchases can provide benefit far beyond the amount of money that goes into the manufacturer's pocket.

Rphilbeck wrote
on Feb 11, 2014 2:34 PM

I love this article and its so true that we do take for granted all the needles and supplies we use and how they are made and by whom. I work with a lot of students from India and tasted their amazing foods. Someday I would love to go to India and see all what their is too see. Thanks for the article and its so wonderful that Knitter's Pride is sponsoring Apna School. Very nice indeed!!!

Rowena

JanetS@45 wrote
on Feb 11, 2014 12:06 PM

We carry Knitters Pride as well as two other major brand. We know you also advertise other brands. It seems unethical to do an article like this without labeling it as an advertisement. What comments have you received from your other advertisers.

Don and Janet

Putting On The Knitz

on Feb 10, 2014 8:43 PM

I have always loved trying out new kinds of needles--tools are so important! I love the aesthetics of wood, laminate and bamboo, but i have discovered over the years that because of the way I use my fingers/needles, the metal ones are best for me because of the friction of the two tips against each other. The metal just stands the strain better. I like nickel-plated brass because of the balanced weight, and their long life, as opposed to aluminum or coated metal. I don't like the new cubics, though. Round ones slip through the stitches better for me.