Review- ChaioGoo Spin Bamboo Interchangeable Needle Set

As a brand-new knitter, I saw the Boye interchangeable needle set at Walmart.  I had never heard of needle sets before, and I thought it was a genius idea.  I received it for Christmas, and in the ten years since then I have gotten tons of use out of it.  Over time, I started hearing about other brands, and I realized that Boye is not the best when it comes to quality.  This past fall I decided it would be good to get a set of wood needles, too, because wood needles are good to use with slippery yarn.

After a lot of research, I decided to get the ChiaoGoo Spin set, which is made from hard bamboo.  The most helpful source of information was a Facebook live review video from  The video also gave a coupon code (now expired), so I ordered from their website.  There are benefits to ordering from a knitting shop rather than from a big retailer, and as far as knitting shops go, this site had the lowest price I could find.

ChaioGoo is excellent quality, but in the medium price range.  Their complete sets also come in a wide range of sizes: 2-15.  That range is rare, and I like variety, so I use all those sizes.  One feature that is completely unique to the ChaioGoo Spin set is that the ends of the cords spin, so the cord never gets twisted while you're knitting.  It's really cool.  I decided to get the 5-inch tips, and I am glad I did.  My Boye set has 4-inch tips, and the 5-inch tips are easier to hold onto.

The set came with several accessories: a needle gauge, stitch markers (not pictured), keys for tightening the cords, extenders for putting two cords together,  and end stoppers (for if you need to take the needles off and set your project aside).  The case is beautiful, although the zipper is a little tight around the corners.  There are two sets of cords: one set for the small needle sizes, and one set for the large needle sizes.  Having two different sizes of cords ensures smooth joins.  Each set of cords has three lengths: 24", 32", and 40".  Another benefit of having two sizes of cords is that there are a total of six cords in the set.

Here I compare a Boye cord (on the outside) to a ChiaoGoo cord (on the inside).  You can see that the Boye cord is thicker and stiffer.  I used to wonder why I didn't get awesome results with the magic loop method like so many other people do.  Now that I have nice cords, I understand: flexibility is so important.
 Here I compare the cord extenders, Boye on the left and ChiaoGoo on the right.  Because the ChiaoGoo extender is so much shorter, when I make extended cords, it just feels like one big cord, completely natural.  When I attach two Boye cords together, it never lines up right, and it drives me crazy.
I love the ChiaoGoo cords so much that I am now seriously considering also getting the ChiaoGoo Twist set (metal tips) and passing the Boye set down to my kids.

Free Your Fade

When I attended Knit Stars 2 this past fall, one of the instructors was Andrea Mowry, and she included a free copy of her "Free Your Fade" pattern.  A lot of the other knitters were working on their shawls right away and posting pictures to the Facebook group, but I didn't have suitable yarn for it yet.

For Christmas I received a gift certificate to a local yarn shop, and I set out to find the perfect yarn.  This pattern is typically knitted with speckled yarns because those create a really smooth transition between colors, but there weren't any good speckled options at my local yarn shop.  I spent almost two hours there laying yarn out on a table and putting different combinations together.  I finally decided to get Mirasol Khusku, a fingering-weight yarn, in three colorways: "Rio Amazonas" (blue), "Camino Inca" (pink), and "Lineas de Nazca" (orange).

My original plan was to start with pink, put blue in the middle, and end with orange, since the pink and orange both have blue in them.  (See the left half of the swatch above.)  However, when I posted a picture of my swatch to the Knit Stars Facebook page, several people told me to do blue, pink, orange.  I grew up believing that pink and orange clash, so I was sure I would hate this combination.  However, when I tried it, I was stunned at how beautiful it was.  I had a revelation that will forever change the way I think about colors
I also experimented with needle sizes in my swatch and decided to use size 5 instead of the size 4 needles recommended by the pattern.  I want my shawl to be more lightweight.  Another thing I learned from Knit Stars: swatching can be fun!

"Free Your Fade" starts out very small and adorable, and grows into a very interesting shape.  The eyelet rows help break up the monotony of the garter stitch.  The color transitions are what is really keeping me interested.  After knitting in one colorway for several sections, there is a "fade" section where two colorways are alternated, and then the new colorway takes over.  The pink/orange fade section reminds me of a sunset.
I have several projects going at the same time right now, but I am setting weekly goals and hoping to finish this at the end of March.