A few people have asked about the needles pictured in various photographs of my knitting, as they do not resemble any of the usual suspects. And that is because they are not. While I do own some needles from other manufacturers, most of the needles I work with are handmade by a tiny company in Vermont, USA, called DyakCraft. I have been meaning to write about them here for a while, but struggled with the logistics. Initially I had this vision of gathering my entire DyakCraft collection and photographing it beautifully displayed. The problem is that I very actively utilise these needles for work, so practically all are in use, at all times. And the thought of removing them from a dozen works in progress, then later trying to re-attach each pair to the correct project, makes me very nervous! Additionally, I realise that I am no longer set up for macro-photogrphy, which is really what I would need to show off these needles properly. In short, I have come to the conclusion, that if I want to tell you about these now as opposed to a decade from now, I should just do it and show them as they are. Hence the mess you see above. But what a pretty mess it is!
A tiny company indeed, DyakCraft consists of Tom (a wood turner) and Linda (an all around fibre artist) Diak. With a history that spans two decades, these makers have a dedicated following of Knitters in the Know. But of course I was oblivious to their existence - despite at some point practically being their neighbour when I lived in rural New Hampshire! Ironically, it was a decade later and through the world of Lovely Bicycle that I became acquainted with Linda. When I discovered that she made knitting needles, I was immediately eager to try them, as I gravitate toward all things handmade. I did not, however, expect to enjoy the needles' performance as much as I did. Everything about them - the shape, the weight, the feel, the tips - was exactly what I had been looking for, but was not getting from any of the big manufacturers. And so, it wasn't long before I began replacing all of my needles with DyakCraft, so that I now use them almost exclusively.
DyakCraft make a variety of needles, which can be subdivided into three general collections or series, according to the material they are made of: the aluminium Northern Light series; the steel Heavy Metal series, and the wooden Darn Pretty series. I am fortunate to own some of each.
from the manufacturer:
Northern Light™ Anodized Interchangeable Knitting Needles are turned from solid aluminum, with stainless steel threading for strength. The transition from shaft to taper is seamless. Whereas most needles have a concave taper, our tapers are convex curves which allow the yarn to flow effortlessly from needle to needle. Each needle is polished by hand. The end result is a needle that is smooth, but not slick, affording the knitter greater control, and one that warms to the touch and stays warm while you knit, reducing hand fatigue.
The Northern Lights are available in 5" and 3.5" lengths, and in widths ranging from 3.25mm to 8mm in diameter. The nickel-plated versions are a lovely dark gunmetal-charcoaly colour. The anodised versions come in a variety of colours (which I believe change seasonally?), and mine are a gorgeous sage green. The swivel cables with stainless steel connectors are available in a variety of lengths, or can be cut to size. The cables can be tightened with rubber grippers, which are included. However, most of the time I tighten mine by hand and they do not unscrew.
I own a set of the Northern Light needles in sizes 3.25mm through 6mm, and use them for much of my knitting in the DK to chunky weight range (I am a loose knitter). As far as subjective feedback... I find these needles quite lightweight and slick, with medium-sharp tips, which (for me) is a combination that works remarkably well when paired with average-to-soft wool yarns, and makes for especially fast garment knitting when there are swathes of stockinette involved. It is less ideal for coarse rustic wools, and for certain plant-based yarns, where instead I prefer to use either wooden or steel needles.
Designed for working with finer yarns, the Heavy Metal needles feature the same seamless convex shape as the Northern Lights, but are turned from stainless steel and left unplated and unpolished. They are available in interchangeable and DPN versions (see below), in widths ranging from 2mm to 3.25mm, and in several lengths. Due to the smaller diameter, the interchangeable Heavy Metals have their own cable system.
I own a set of the Heavy Metal interchangeables in 2.00mm - 3.00mm, and use them for most of my knitting in the fingering and sport weight range. A bit heavier and less slick than the Northern Lights, these needles work especially well for me with fine rustic yarns, such as the various Scottish and Scandinavian 4-plys that have recently become popular. I should also note that these needles change considerably with use, growing slicker and more polished with wear - at which point, they also start to become increasingly suitable for softer, and superwash wools.
In fact, the more I use the Heavy Metals, the more I appreciate their versatility - and wish they were available also in the same size range as the Northern Lights.
In addition to the interchangeables, I also own several sets of Heavy Metal DPNs in sizes 2.00mm, 2.25mm, and 2.5mm. For sock knitting, these needles combine the precision of surgical instruments with the soulfulness of artisanal tools, and I absolutely love them. In particular, I find them amazingly effective for helping me keep tight and consistent tension, and now use them for all of my sock knitting.
Finally, the Darn Pretty series are DyakCraft's gorgeous, gorgeous, hand turned (Vermont Rosewood!) wooden needles. In theory, there is a circular interchangeable version and a DPN version, and each can be made in a wide range of sizes and with both standard tips and lace tips. In practice, however, the wooden DyakCrafts are considerably harder to get than their metal series. The DPNs in particular are virtually impossible to come by (I think there may be a waiting list). The circulars are released in limited edition small batches, and they tend to sell out not long after appearing in the online shop; so if you are interested in these just be aware there might be stalking and waiting involved!
The interchangeable Darn Prettys are available in the same sizes as the Northern Lights, and use the same cable system. I own 2 pairs, with lace (very sharp!) tips, which I love but also tremble over lest anything should happen to them... And here I should explain, that I also have a set of the wooden DPNs. However, a few months ago something horrible happened, which I still can't get over: A knitter was admiring the socks I was knitting on my (very pretty!) Darn Pretty DPNs. As she examined the sock, her phone rang, at which point she picked up the call and absentmindedly placed the sock on a surface beside her. Then, while talking on the phone, she proceeded to lean on the sock with her elbow. In horror, I watched this happen in slow motion. And before I could rescue the sock, she snapped two needles. So... my remaining Darn Pretty DPNs no longer leave the house. The intercahngeables occasionally do, but it makes me nervous!
Overall, the Darn Pretty needles are exquisite, wonderfully tactile, and have worked well on every single yarn I've tried them with. However, they are both more fragile, and more difficult to get, than the metal DyakCrafts - which makes them not ideal as 'every day needles' for the likes of me!
Aside from the needles mentioned here, DyakCraft also makes crochet hooks, needle stops, cable connectors, a variety of cases (which Linda sews herself), and a number of other accessories. They have also recently come out with a coated wire version of their cables, which I do not yet own but look forward to trying soon.
I hope this overview has been useful. As mentioned earlier, for the past year at least I have been using DyakCraft for most of my knitting. The two main exceptions to this are: lace knitting in sizes not covered by my Darn Pretty interchangeables (for which I use Hiya-Hiya Sharps), and knitting with course rustic yarns in sizes not covered by the Heavy Metals (for which I use Lykke). Everything else is DyakCraft. Needless to say, our preferences for knitting tools are extremely subjective, and all I can tell you is that DyakCraft needles suit me extremely well. Luckily, you can also read other knitters' reviews on this specially dedicated forum on ravelry.
Whether you are looking for high quality knitting needles, or would like to support a small independent maker (or both!), certainly DyakCraft is worth looking into. And if you have specific questions about my needles, I am happy to answer.