I know in my last post I said I'd not be purchasing anything for a while, and I know this looks like a post about something I've bought, but it's not. Well, it is, but I ordered these on October first, which is ages ago, so it doesn't count.
I heard about these steel circular needles on the Just One More Row podcast, who in turn got wind from the Knitting Pipeline podcast. They're incredibly cheap and are hail from China. I've been disappointed by cheap Chinese needles before (I literally shattered some bamboo ones with my regular knitting pressure), but after hearing some good reviews, I had to try them.
The eBay seller is CherrySky90, and the specific needles I got are these ones, but in the 17" length. I'd had an urge to buy some hat sized needles but I couldn't justify the cost. These were $6.37 for all thirteen sizes, with free shipping. Holy crap. Sold.
They have plastic coated steel cord cables, rather like Chiaogoo needles, which I love. The cables are a smidge stiff and I imagine they could be crimped if you tried hard enough, but they have no memory and are smooth and sleek. The cables get bigger as the needle sizes go up, which improves the joins but makes the larger sizes less than ideal for magic loop. The price makes knitting smaller projects on two circulars very affordable, making magic loop less of a necessity for the dpn-averse. The joins between the needles and cables are very smooth - I dragged my fingernail with significant pressure over the joins on multiple sizes, and while I could feel a difference, there was no resistance or clicking sound, which would indicate an edge for yarn to catch on. The needles bend into the cables, which is fantastic on this smaller length, but not everybody loves this feature in larger needles. The polished steel tips are extremely light and very smooth.
Can we talk about the size range? The sizing is not standard millimetre or US sizing, but a needle gauge is all you need to work around that. The littlest ones are sooooo tiny, and the biggest ones seem to be about a US 7. I'm so pleasantly surprised. The points are duller on the larger needles, but not unpleasantly so. I'd use them for everything except for very fiddly lace.
So - final remarks. Do I recommend them? Yes! Are they as nice as a similar but more expensive needle, such as Chiaogoo (minimum $9 per needle)? No, but they're still great. I would strongly recommend them to anyone looking to round out the sizes of circular in their toolkit, especially if you like teeny tiny gauges. I also think they are a functionally better, more economical choice than something like the Knit Picks interchangeable set for the newer knitter. Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, thirteen needles cost about as much as a semi-decent deli sandwich. The shipping is slow though, so expect to wait. I've heard of them arriving in two weeks, but mine spent some time at customs (or on the post office floor, judging from the dirt and footprints) and arrived in about 5 weeks.
Let me know what you think if you get some!