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Reasons for replacing my Addi Knitting needles for Chiaogoo – Review

Chiaogoo Twist Lace and Blue Shorties set

If you are a follower on Instagram – I bet there will be a few *eye rolls* seeing how much Herdy appears in my photography! #sorrynotsorry!

Started my knitting journey with Knit Pro Symfonies

I first leant to knit as a child, a craft that runs strong in my family. I was taught by my mum and nan but only started taking it more seriously around 2014, when I was in my mid-twenties. The first needles I tried were the ever popular Knit Pro Symfonie (affiliate link) range, I simply bought the size I needed for the project I was making at the time along with the cable. Before I knew it I more or less had a full set and I had well and truly fallen down the knitting rabbit hole.

A shawl cast on from my early knitting days using the Knit Pro Symfonies

I used the Symfonie needles for several years until I started to get a little fed up with them. One of the reasons for this was because they seemed break pretty frequently and I was having issues with how the needles tightened onto the cables. If I remember correctly, at one point I bought 2 or 3 new 4mm needle tips because one of the pair in every set refused to screw into the cable connector. You would think it was a faulty cable right? Well every other needle tip I had screwed into it fine and it was doing it on every cable I tried! I never got a reply from Knit Pro when I contacted them about it. I also didn’t particularly enjoy the faff of the screw system with the little pins so I would regularly just tighten them by hand and subsequently be annoyed that they came loose… I realise I have now gone full circle on this with my current needle set but I am also a very different knitter now!

With experimenting with a couple of other needle types and more experience under my belt, I found I simply prefer using metal needles. Therefore I was always going to fall out with the wooden Symfonies eventually.

Building my Addi Click Interchangeable needle set

photo of an open knitting needle case - one side is full of Addi Click needles, the other size shows mainly the accompanying cables inside a zipped pocket
My Addi Click needle collection (with a couple of Knit Pro DPN’s last on the left) in a case from Amazon

With all this in mind, my main requirements for my next set of interchangeable needles was for them to be metal and not have a screw attachment to the cable.. Well that meant there wasn’t really much choice! Like I did with the Symfonies, I started buying a few Addi Click (another affiliate link) needles as I needed them and I was soon a convert! These needles use a ‘click’ system (as the name suggests!) to attach the needle to the cable. Basically the cable notches inside the cable with a twist to secure it – a bit like a bayonet light fitting. If you skip to 2:10 in my Pinhole Cast On tutorial video, you can see how quick and easy this is to do. To un-attach it, you simply push the cable into the needle a little and twist to unlock them from each other.

A bit more about the Addi ‘Click’ system

In principle, the Addi Click system was the answer to all my prayers, metal needles with no faffy screw fittings! Yay! However, I was a little nervous of them at first; I had read that a some people found the join problematic in that often stitches would ‘snag’ which interrupted the knitting flow. I personally didn’t have too many problems with this. Sometimes if I had cast on a touch tight I found my first round a bit ‘snaggy’, but once the stitches were established, the problem was no more. The connection is nicely tapered, the interruption is there, there’s no denying that, but I don’t find it an issue – I also think it’s something to get used to and naturally adapt to. Having said that though, I definitely think knitting tension is something to consider here. I generally knit ‘not too tight, not too loose’, and more or less hit pattern gauge first time (famous last words!!). I certainly think that the Addi Click join would be more problematic if you were a tight knitter.

Addi click connecting parts shown apart and together

With this being said, another really important thing to consider with interchangeable needle sets is how the join performs under ‘stress’. My old Knit Pro Symfonies would fairly regularly unscrew as I knit, another reason I disliked the join and eventually the whole needle system. This (almost) never happened with the Addi Clicks – the attachment is pretty fool proof in that sense. It never ever happened whilst just knitting, the only time I accidently disconnected them relates back to the join snagging I was experiencing when casting on too tight. When trying to force the tight stitches over the join, I sometimes pushed too hard and unclicked the cable. I guess you could call this annoying but the real issue was the fact that I had cast on too tight, I can’t really blame the needle for that!

Addi needle variations and size range

The Click system is available in needle sizes that range from 3.5mm to 10mm diameter and 3″ (8cm) and 5″ (13cm) lengths – long and short versions and in Turbo or Lace variants. Now I don’t especially like super pointy needles and I currently don’t do a lot of lace knitting but I do have a mixture of the turbo – their ‘standard’ tip, and the lace tips. The is basically only because I bought what was available when I needed it. One thing I did quite like about the Knit Pro needles was the tips. In my opinion, they had the perfect amount of ‘pointyness’. Not too sharp, not too pointy. In comparison, I would definitely say the Addi turbo needle tips are on the more rounded end of the spectrum. The lace tips are ‘pointier’ but not too pointy which suits me well. I have a HiyaHiya fixed lace circular which I never use because their version of a lace tip is way too pointy for me, its like knitting with an actual sewing needle! The Addi lace tips are much more rounded in comparison. I compare the Chiaogoo and Addi Lace tips later on…

I presume due to the way the the click connection is manufactured, Addi don’t offer sizes smaller than a 3.5mm. For the most part this is fine, but it did often annoy me that they didn’t go a little smaller. It was often quite annoying when a ribbing required a 3mm needle and I couldn’t just click to change!

comparison photo of the addi lace and turbo needle tip
Addi Lace tip at the top, the turbo tip at the bottom

Addi also do Bamboo and Olive wood options for the wood preferring knitters. They all use the same click connections so can be used with the same cables which is handy. I once used a bamboo 4.5mm for a lace test knit which used John Arbon Textiles Alpaca Supreme yarn. This is a stunning yarn but SUPER slippery. The Addi needles are VERY slick and even for someone prefers a slick needle, this combination was just too much! The bamboo needle worked perfectly for the job, making the yarn much more manageable. I still ascertain though that in normal circumstances, wood is just too sticky for my liking.

Onto the Addi Cables….

This is where my love for Addi starts to turn a little sour… They have a wide choice of cable length to choose from; 40cm is their shortest and they go right up to a 200cm length – which is pretty damn long! However, I would argue that the shorter end of the spectrum is somewhat lacking. I am a massive lover of knitting in the round. I will knit/alter just about anything in order to get out of working flat and seaming. A 40cm length just isn’t small enough for most sleeves, and many necklines, or hats. Over the years I have combatted this by buying smaller fixed circular needles in whichever size I needed for the project and would swear by the Addi Sockwonder for sleeves. However, this has just become a little tiring. Not only because they create a massive mess of cables and metal in my needle case which is impossible to keep organised… but mainly because, like all of their needles and cables I’ve used, the size/length printing they put on to distinguish them rubs off! This makes grabbing a needle from the tangle even more laborious as I have to put it through a needle size rule, for which I have 3 and they all give me slightly different answers! This probably seems like a pretty small issue but for someone who knits ALL OF THE TIME, both for work and pleasure, it’s little things like this that make the difference.

View of my messy needle case full of Addi Sockwonder and other fixed circular needles
Trying to get those cables back in to zip the case up is always fun!

Like most interchangeable knitting needle systems, the Addi cables are a made from a soft, flexible nylon/plastic. Apart from the connectors, and colour, they are more or less the same as the Knit Pro cables – maybe slightly softer and more flexible, but not much in it. I have found with all of them that they can get a bit kinked and ‘tangly’. Due to space in my needle cases, I tend to store them wound into a circle inside a zipped pocket (see an earlier image). They don’t like straightening up too much and tend to want to stay twisted up, which is mightily annoying when knitting – particularly magic loop!

And so the love for Chiaogoo begun!

I think it was the cable situation that made me reconsider my needle preference. My mum has been using Chiaogoo needles for a while now and although the cables looked like they were in a completely different league (which they are), I wasn’t swayed enough to go back to a screw fitting. Until last summer I started a cardigan design using some 50/50 Superwash Merino/Silk which is a beautiful beautiful yarn albeit another slippery one. I cast on using a particularly wiggly fixed Addi circular needle and I quickly gave up as trying to deal with the wayward cable and the slippery yarn was just too much! Instead I bought a single fixed Chiaogoo needle so I could give it a go before taking the plunge on a full set…

It didn’t take long to completely fall in love with them and pretty quickly I invested in not only a “Twist Small” interchangeable set but also the “Blue Shorties” set too!

Chiaogoo cables – a cut above the rest

Straight away, the elephant in the room are those cables so I’ll start with them first – they are hands down the best I have seen and used. It must be patented as they seem pretty unique to them. They have a multi strand steel core to the cable which is coated with nylon. Unlike other cables, the steel core means that they don’t have a memory so they can be stored wound up but will return to a nice straight, smooth but flexible position. They are flexible to use but stay rigid enough to not get tangled up in themselves whilst working with them, particularly when with magic loop. They come in a large range of lengths too, starting with a miniature 2″/5cm cable (designed to be used mainly with the Shortie Tips as flexible DPN’s – Think Addi Crasy Trio but interchangeable) right up to a 50″/125cm. Funnily enough, where the Addi cables lack on the short end of the spectrum, maybe Chiaogoo lack on the longer end. However, both Chiaogoo and Addi offer cable connectors meaning that that that really be as long as you want them to be.

Unless you have tried a Chiaogoo needle/cable, I am not sure this will make any sense but I’ll try to explain what I mean anyway… The steel core gives the cable more structure and for me, it gives the stitches more structure too. Now It’s been an incredibly long time since I have knit with straight needles and this is by no means a like for like comparison to how the cable feels, far from it, but the cable does add a touch more rigidity to the working edge which is vaguely reminiscent to working with straight needles. I do remember with straight needles that I got a lot more hand, wrist and even shoulder pain because there was absolutely no flexibility in the needle. I was not only working with the needle tips to make my stitches, but it felt like I was continually manoeuvring the whole weight of the project with every action. The cables absolutely do not feel like that but likewise it doesn’t feel like the stitches just flop away from you the second they fall off the end of the fixed portion of the needle and onto a floppy cable.

Hope I didn’t loose you with that one! It makes sense in my head!

Spinny Cables!

Chiaogoo also do a ‘spin’ cable which is made from similar nylon that the other interchangeable needle companies use. Rather than the cable being ‘fixed’ to the metal connecting end, it spins – as the name suggests. You can buy these cables either singularly and use them with any other Chiaogoo needle tip or you can buy a specific ‘spin’ set which comes with bamboo tips.

Chiaogoo spin cable connection
Chiaogoo spin cable connection

I bought just a single cable to give it a go in the 35cm length (i think? from memory!). It’s a bit of a shame that the cable is not of the same ‘steel core’ calibre of the normal cables. It is a fairly skinny cord and really lightweight. The spin feature is pretty cool, It basically means that you can turn the needle tip any which way you like and the cable (and therefore the project/stitches) doesn’t get twisted. I have only used this cable with a small circular yoke so far which wasn’t the best test but I can see the benefits when using a longer cable with magic loop.

EDIT Aug 23 – I have since learned that Chiaogoo do now make and sell ‘Swiv 360’ cords in the small and large sizes that have the spin connector with the steel core. They came as the standard cable in my large short set (which I bought after writing this review) and they are really nice to work with! All of the added benefits of the swivel cable, coupled with the benefits of the steel cables!

Chiaogoo screw connection

The Chiaogoo screw connection itself does what it says on the tin really, the cable component screws into the needle component and like most interchangeable screw sets I’ve seen, Chiaogoo give you the little pins to insert into the cable to help get snug fit.

Chiaogoo screw connections and pin

In direct comparison to the Addi Click connection, the Chiaogoo is pretty seamless which makes for a lovely knitting experience. I would say that they don’t feel like they screw together super tight and therefore I wouldn’t say they feel as sturdy as the Addi click connection does. Having said that though, I also haven’t had a cable unscrew whilst knitting yet so they obviously do the job well! It’s true, they are a tad more fiddly than the simple ‘click’ of the Addi’s but this is certainly made up for in other ways.

Size range of the Chiaogoo interchangeable needles

The size range of the Chiaogoo interchangeable is pretty incredible for a interchangeable system. The smallest is a mini 1.5mm and the range spans right up to a big 10mm needle. That’s pretty impressive, right? Especially if you only ever buy your needles singularly, as you need them.

There is a catch though… You can’t buy one single set with every size included AND it is not a ‘one cable fits all’ scenario. Due to the vast spectrum of sizes, the connecting parts are sized according to the needle so three sets of cables would be needed to have needles across the whole spectrum, a Mini, Small and Large. Hopefully the table below will help to explain what I mean (and hopefully not confuse you more!)

Basic breakdown of the individual Chiaogoo needle diameters, what time length they are available in and the required cable size.
Basic breakdown of the individual Chiaogoo needle diameters, what time length they are available in and the required cable size.

I think this photo highlights nicely not only the differences in sizes of cable but also why its necessary! There’s no way you could have a 2.75mm needle (not to mention the 1.5mm!!) attaching to the same cable as a 10mm needle!!

comparison photo of the mini, small and large Chiaogoo cables and needles
Comparison of the cable/connecting sizes and the needle/component labelling system

It may seem frustrating that different cables are needed for different needles and I was definitely of this opinion BEFORE I invested in my sets. However, I think what is important to remember here is that as a result, Chiaogoo offer the most complete system by some margin – not just in the breadth of needle diameter, but also in needle tip length AND cable length. If you use a vast amount of sizes and lengths, it really is worth the investment. So far I have bought the Twist Small Complete set which gives me a needle range of 2.75mm-10mm in the 5″/13cm (the length I opted for) and the Blue Shorties set which gives me a needle range of 3.5mm-5mm in the 2″/5cm and 3″/8cm for small diameter knitting. For me, with the edition to a 2.75mm Shortie combo I have purchased separately, this gives covers most of the sizes/lengths I use regularly. Where I may lack a size/length occasionally I will probably either buy singularly to add to the collection or use what I have with magic loop etc. . You can also buy cable adapters which allows you to either convert a large tip to a small cable or a small tip to a mini cable. These are cheaper to buy than the cables themselves so definitely something to consider if you want to avoid buying lots of cables.

Another thing I really like about the Chiaogoo needles over others I have used is the way they label not only their needles, but also the cables. They make it super easy to not only identify the needle size, but also the cable length and the connection size they attach to, no mor hunting around for a needle gauge! As far as I have experienced (and heard from elsewhere), the embossing doesn’t rub off either. I have found that the printing on the Addi cables comes off in 2 seconds flat and the embossing on the needle fades over time – some of my older needles have lost it completely, some of the newer needles it is staying put a bit longer. Massive win for Chiaogoo there! Though, with their complicated system of different connecting sized etc, if they didn’t have a good system of labelling them, it would become very frustrating, very quickly!

Cable connections of the Chiaogoo's showing the embossing of the sizes

Comparing the knitting experience of the Addi and Chiaogoo needles

The differences between the Addi Lace tip and the Chiaogoo Twist lace tip is very minimal, I would say that the points feel incredibly similar to work with, which, as I said before, works for me! A reasonable amount of point but not too much! The Addi turbo (the standard tip) is obviously much more rounded and therefore gives a fairly different knitting experience.

comparison of the Addi turbo and lace needle tips to the Chiaogoo needle tip
Slightly different needle diameters shown but the difference in the tips is visible

The knitting experience for these needles varies in regards to the way they are being used, in my opinion. A big factor to consider as well is the materials the needles are made from and how they feel to use. The Addi needles are nickel-plated and they are super shiny and slick to use as I mentioned before. In contrast, the Chiaogoo needles are made from uncoated surgical stainless steel. This gives the needle a little more grip than the Addi but still makes for a nice smooth knitting experience which is much smoother than a wooden equivalent. If you look closely at the above photo you can see the difference in the coatings.

So if I was knitting mainly stockinette stitch with a ‘minimal-splitting’ yarn, I would probably choose the Addi turbo needle due to the slickness of the needle making the knitting progress fast and the blunter tip no problem for the yarn. However, going back to the ‘slippery’ yarns I talked about earlier, which were also a little more ‘splitty’ than some, I would probably now choose the Chiaogoo Twist Lace tip for it’s slightly grippier feel and more precise tip.

The Chiaogoo sets themselves

I never bought an Addi or Knit Pro set so this isn’t going to be a ‘set comparison’ but since I did buy the Chiaogoo’s as a set. Therefore, it wouldn’t be right to write all this and not mention the Chiaogoo’s in their entirety. When purchasing this time round I figured that knitting isn’t just a hobby anymore and I am likely to have the need to increase my needle range pretty quickly so buying a set (or 2 as it turned out) is really the only logical thing to do. In the past I have been put off buying a full needle set as I wouldn’t have seen myself likely to use all of the sizes which then made them feel expensive.

Firstly, it’s really nice having a proper case which not only looks really good, but is pretty useful in regards to the dedicated labelled pockets for each needle size – though, I definitely recommend still checking the needle size…. I not so long ago, (with a glass of wine in hand,) grabbed what I thought was a 4mm needle from the 4mm pouch and eagerly cast on a Musselbrough hat, only to realise half way through, I was actually using a 3.25mm needle! Luckily I didn’t mind how the fabric came out so I carried on with the project anyway.

I have a couple of small gripes with the Twist Small case; it only has one small pocket on the outside to store any associated accessories such as the cables, needle stoppers, connectors etc. Although I haven’t gone mad with extras yet, I feel like it won’t take that long to run out of space. It would have also been nice to have more of a dedicated space for the cables themselves. Currently I am keeping them in the plastic lock bags which they came in, inside the front pocket, but these are already starting to break with repeated use and I will soon be in the market for an alternative. Actually I would also argue that they maybe cheaped out a little on the needle gauge too which I am pretty sure isn’t made of much more than cardboard – maybe I’m wrong?! However with how great their needle labelling is, it’s arguably not needed anyway!

What pleases me MOST about these sets is how easy they are to keep tidy, this can only be put down to the sheer breadth that the Chiaogoo Interchangeable system covers. I no longer have the need to have loads of fixed needles to accompany my interchangeable set – these two cases literally cover everything! That makes the virgo perfectionist in me very happy. Although one thing that doesn’t make the virgo in me particularly happy is the missing 3mm needle and lack of dedicated labelled pouch for it – I presume this is because it is a US size 2.5 and this particular set doesn’t include any half US sizes – but as a UK knitter who works in mm not only is the 3mm size a fairly common one for me to use and its missing very annoying, but now I have purchased it separately, I don’t have a labelled pouch for it to live in! Not exactly a deal breaker but, you know!

One last thing about Chiaogoo

Do you know where their brand name come from? Well the business was founded by four brothers in China whose grandfather was a skilled bamboo craftsman and they were inspired by their mother to create needles suited to her needs. Due to their grandfathers craft, the business started with bamboo needles, then moved onto their metal counterparts later on. Their mother was an expert knitter and thus Chiaogoo means “highly skilled and crafty lady” – I love this!

4 thoughts on “Reasons for replacing my Addi Knitting needles for Chiaogoo – Review”

  1. Thank you so much for the review! The join on my Addi clicks annoys me SO much, not to mention all your observations on the cords. I have had them come undone while knitting. I’ll be asking for the Chiagoo for Christmas!

  2. I knit king size blankets..always had to get several 36 I ch circulars as they often broke mid knit…found 60 in circulars from chiaogoo…..WONDERFUL. feel, no kinks, and no breakage

  3. What a great review, thank you! I love my Chiaogoos and the new Swiv cables. I prefer the 3.5/4″ needle tips over the 5″ tips, because the longer tips somehow hurt my hands. I’d love it if they had a set that was truly 3″, and I think I could use those for most projects.

    I learned early on that Knitter’s Pride was rubbish, and cheap needles aren’t worth the money. I’ve never used Addis, but I’m addicted to swiveling cables, and they seemed slow to embrace that. Once I got my Chiaogoos there was no turning back. That said, I do have an inexpensive Lykke set I use for small circumference knitting on sweater sleeves and such, because their needles are a tad shorter and work better for me. The cables swivel, but alas are far inferior to the Chiaogoos.

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