An in-depth and non-sponsored review of the four big interchangeable knitting needle set brands
I am sure you have considered buying an interchangeable knitting needle set. Maybe you already own one. It’s certainly one of the most important knitting tools and the advantages are many: Instead of buying a new pair of needles for every new project, you can use the very same set every time and adjust the needle size and cord length according to your preferences and the requirements of the pattern. One needle set may give you up to 500 different combinations.
There are four major players for metal needles on the market: ChiaoGoo, addi, Hiya Hiya, and Knitter’s Pride (which is marketed under the name KnitPro in Europe and is 100% compatible with Knitpicks). But which interchangeable needles are the best? For my newsletter subscribers, I wanted to find out!
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
I bought a big lace set from all four of them and compared them for you. I’ll show you all the major differences in terms of quality, sizing, the system, cords, knitting speed & ease, and of course the price. There are also wood, plastic, and carbon interchangeable needle sets, but as these materials are so drastically different, I won’t be looking at them in this guide (but you can check out my full ChiaoGoo knitting needle review for that or my review of the super-durable Karbonz needles).
Here are the direct shopping links to all four sets I am reviewing here:
- ChiaoGoo Twist Red Lace Interchangeable Set
- Hiya Hiya 5 Inch Sharp Limited Edition Deluxe (and here’s the small set I initially bought)
- addi Knitting Needles Click Mixed Set (here a link to the Standard Rocket (Long) Lace Tips)
- Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina
I bought them all on Amazon as I personally found the best bargains there. (Note: Due to availability problems during the current pandemic, I could only buy a new small HiyaHiya set for this review)
I also won’t be comparing any of the cheaper brands (etc.) because I had such bad experiences with these needles in the past. Any maker will be able to assure you that their tools are one of the most important aspects of their trade and quality shows.
My dad always told me “buy cheap stuff, and you’ll buy twice”. While there are certainly exceptions, I found that adage to be remarkably close to the truth. The last thing you want is a broken needle/cable on a live project.
Anyways, let’s dive right into it, eh?
Let’s take a look at the general system at the very beginning. The general principle behind all four sets is the same. You get separate cables and needles and can combine them at will. The interchangeable knitting needles sets by Knitter’s Pride, HiyaHiya and ChiaoGoo work with screws to connect the cables to the needles, while addi uses a click-system.
All four of them are fairly easy to use. In the case of Knitter’s Pride, HiyaHiya and ChiaoGoo, you insert a little pin into a little hole in the cable, then you screw the needle onto the cable and use the pin to really screw tight. The ChiaoGoo pin is maybe a tiny bit more durable, but the difference is marginal at best. To detach the cables, you insert the pin again and unscrew the needles. Pretty straightforward and simple.
With ChiaoGoo and HiyaHIya, you screw the needles into the cable socket, while Knitter’s pride has the screws on the cable – but I don’t think that is a difference that matters. It’s probably more a patent thing. It does mean, however, that the Knitter’s Pride needles can get crooked around the screw, while the same can happen to the cables of the other two brands. HiyaHiya is especially prone to that, as there is a super-thin shell above the screws.
The addi Click system is a bit more complicated. There’s a little indention on the needles as a marker, where you need to insert the cable, and press it into the needle and turn it around counter-clockwise. To detach, you have to press the cable into the needle (you’ll hear a little click) and then you can unscrew it again. addi provides you with a little rubber patch you can use so your fingers don’t slip. I really love that detail, as the pins from the other two brands help you to hold onto the cable, but the needles still can slip away (they are metal, after all).
HiyaHiya interchangeable knitting needles do have screws at the other end as well, but you get a rubber patch as well. In addition, you get quite a lot of extenders. I really love the concept of their needle extenders. You can easily turn a 5″ needle into a 6″ needle, etc. So, how cool is that? (these adapters are only part of the large sets and not the small sets, but can be bought separately). Their regular cable adaptors don’t have a hole for the pins, though – unlike the ChiaoGoo adapters.
And then, of course, there are the cable stoppers. You can use them to put a work in progress on hold, while you use the needles for a different project. The Knitter’s Pride stoppers are pure plastic and a bit flimsy (but do the job), HiyaHiya offers somewhat cute-ish panda stoppers (were not part of my small set, sorry), while the ChiaoGoo stoppers are very solid and the best of the lot. Addi only provides a largish cable extender instead you can use it as a makeshift stopper as well. So, actually, that is kind of smart, though the extender is a bit too long to use for actual cable extending in my opinion. (Note: Cable extenders for Knitter’s Pride and ChiaoGoo can be bought separately but are usually not part of the small sets.)
But let’s take a closer look at the two most important factors:
How smooth is the join
If you have ever knit with circular needles, then you know that the join between cables and needles is a critical thing. If it’s too pronounced, then your stitches may get stuck and it will be quite hard to knit smoothly. And worse yet, if there’s a gap, they can get stuck in between.
ChiaoGoo is the clear winner in this field. The join is almost seamless. Knitter’s Pride is less precise, though it’s a fraction of a millimeter that is missing. HiyHiya is probably around the same, but maybe a tiny tack more noticeable than KP (but both look a bit “sloppy” under magnification).
Addi, on the other hand, has quite the big step, but it’s somewhat tapered, so it works remarkably well in action and never runs the risk of the yarn getting trapped in between the gap. Tight knitters WILL notice it, however, as they push stitches from the cable onto the needle. I’d definitely say the other three brands are better in that regard. It does have to be noticed, however, that Knitter’s Pride offers the overall smoothest transition between the main part of the needle and the cable. The other brands all have multiple sections where the needles get wider bit by bit.
How tight is the join
There’s nothing worse than your knitting needles coming undone while you are knitting. In all fair honesty, I do have to say that addi owns that field. Both my ChiaoGoo, HiyaHiya, and my Knitter’s Pride cables have come undone in the past. Usually, I noticed it before the point of no return because stitches have gotten caught in the gap. Still, there’s no denying how annoying that is, especially as it’s hard to rescue this situation mid-row. I blame it on the fact that these systems make it very hard to really screw it tight.
Addi, on the other hand, is pretty damn tight. BUT with some yarns, the stitches get caught at the tapered join all the time, so you end up pushing against the needle, which eventually can release the click-mechanism. This is actually worse than a partially unscrewed join.
I do have to say, that Knitter’s Pride does have the strongest connection, though. I am always having “problems” unscrewing them – that never happens to me with ChiaoGoo. But that’s actually quite noteworthy, because the easier they unscrew, the easier it can happen accidentally. HiyaHiya usually is pretty damn tight as well, though weirdly enough, some needles have a problem with their screws.
In a nutshell: None of the systems is perfect in that regard and if you want perfect security, you have to get fixed circular needles. But – as experienced knitters will tell you – even they sometimes break after heavy use at the seam between cable and needle. For now, I guess that is something knitters have to live with.
Just as important as the general interchangeable system, are the needles themselves. Again, there are quite some differences between the four brands and they are easily visible to the naked eye. All brands offer 4″ and 5″ sets – I picked the larger version because I rarely use circular needles for knitting in the round (I always knit with double-pointed needles). Also, as a man, my hands are a bit bigger, so the extra inch is a bit more comfortable to hold.
HiyaHiya is the shortest of the lot (but they do offer needle extenders ), Knitter’s Pride is in the middle, and addi has the longest needles. The difference is only a couple of millimeters, but those can make quite a big difference depending on the size of your hand.
Knitter’s Pride has the shortest tapered tip, the longest end, and the best transitions without “kinks”. I always felt this allowed for pretty seamless and fast knitting as your project will easily slide along. That being said, if you frequently knit with big needle sizes (like these 5.5/6.0 mm needles), the longer tapered end ChiaoGoo and addi offers, can be a nice advantage for lace patterns.
HiyaHiya has by far the sharpest points of the lot. So, as a pure lace needle, this would probably be my favorite. If you push on your needle tips a lot, then be aware that HiyaHiya will be a poor choice. These needles hurt quite a bit when you do that (though I would recommend you to train some to avoid this habit because it’s not needed anyway).
In terms of speed, I think Knitter’s Pride is the winner (though addi is pretty damn fast as well). Since I picked the laciest option of all three brands, I think that observation matters a lot. For projects with a tighter gauge, the transition between needles and cable could be a bit smoother, though.
Addi, being the longest off the lot, could be a nice option for men with bigger hands.
A close look at the material & quality of the interchangeable needle tips
All four needles are very light. The 5mm needles were all in the same range. ChiaoGoo & HiyaHiya weighs ~8 grams, while Knitters Pride is 9, and addi 10 are grams. Considering that your yarn/project will be considerably heavier, you will not really notice these needles – even for the bigger sizes.
All four brands produce in stainless steel, though Knitter’s Pride needles are chrome plated, and addi uses white bronze to galvanize their needles to perfection, with a thin copper layer in between. And HiyaHiya seems to produce the screws in bronze (?). As a result,
- Knitter’s Pride are the slickest,
- Addi the second best,
- while the interchangeable knitting needles from ChiaoGoo have the highest friction, with Hiya Hiya on a similar level (though to me, it feels like they are a bit slicker).
Contrary to what you might read in some forums online, none of the brands use nickel (at least not for these needles). ChiaoGoo uses surgical grade stainless steel which is hypoallergenic but still contains Nickel. If you are super sensitive, I had one reader report that it can be an issue nevertheless.
In terms of durability, all three brands are on a similar level. The needles are not solid, but hollow. As a result, they can get dented a bit or even get crooked. None of them are truly made for eternity. Addi does offer a lifetime warranty, though (and ChiaoGoo as well, though it’s much harder to contact them). If I had to make a ranking, I would say that the Knitter’s Pride needles are the least durable in that regard.
I also noticed a few problems with the coating. Some addi needles had ..well..hard to describe…little speckles on their tips. I mean, they are just a fraction of a millimeter big, but funnily enough, it’s something you do notice. 2 needle tips in my set had this problem. I contacted them via e-mail, and they did send a replacement at once. So, that’s definitely nice to know.
The coating of the Knitter’s Pride needles tends to change color over time. I felt like mentioning it, even though I doubt it matters.
It’s a bit harder to capture knitting ease, and I’m afraid my assessment is not entirely objective. I was a bit hesitant to include a paragraph, but then I figured my readers will be smart enough to take my verdict with a grain of salt.
Both HiyaHiya and ChiaoGoo are pure stainless steel. That means, the surface is not totally smooth and has these…well striations I guess. Depending on the yarn you use, you will notice quite a bit of friction, and whenever the needles touch, they don’t slide across each other effortlessly.
This means knitting feels a bit harder and slower, but in reality, it somehow isn’t (I recorded a video of me knitting with all 4 brands and counted the stitches I could knit in 20 secs). Still, the sharp tips mean you are more likely to split the yarn if you are going fast. That being said, I feel HiyaHiya is a tiny bit smoother and easier to knit than ChiaoGoo.
Like I already mentioned, Knitter’s Pride and addi coat their needles. This grants fast and effortless knitting. You can really zoom through those stockinette sections of your work like a knitting machine.
When you turn to lace, or you are an English knitter/thrower, then things can look quite different. Here, you might actually enjoy the bonus friction, as it prevents your needles from sliding out of those stitches.
Some knitters, like me, are hyper-sensitive. Knitting produces sounds, and those largely depend on the needles you are using.
- That’s the reason why I rarely use ChiaoGoo needles. The uncoated stainless steel produces a sort of grinding noise while you knit. There is barely a click when they touch, but the sound as the two needles glide over each other is something that annoys me.
- HiyaHiya is similar, but it’s more of a sliding noise and not so much grinding. They tend to click a bit while you knit.
- With Knitter’s Pride, you only get an audible dull click whenever the needles touch, but it’s not a very loud click (like wooden needles tend to).
- addi is very slick as well, so you only get the typical click-clack knitting sound. The needles seem to be a bit more hollow towards the tip, so the clicking is much clearer.
In a nutshell: For very sensitive knitters, Knitter’s Pride is probably the best choice or you pick hardwood needles.
The second most important part of any interchangeable needle set are the cables. Here, you’ll find quite some differences as well. While all four brands do offer different cable options, I am only looking at the ones that come along with the set.
Knitter’s Pride cable
KP offers a plastic cable. It’s pretty durable and in all my years knitting with them, none ever broke. It’s very light but does have a moderate memory effect. This means, it often curls up a bit, which can be annoying for certain projects where you end up with a cable that is not the ideal length. It’s also the thickest standard cable by a hair’s width and has the smoothest join to the needles.
The ChiaoGoo twist red lace cable is the only coated steel wire cable and the heaviest of the lot. It still only weighs a couple of grams, but as we are looking and minor differences between the different interchangeable knitting needle sets to begin with, I felt like mentioning this. On the plus side, this cable has zero memory effect and it basically never curls up. So, for knitting lace, it works like a charm. For the magic loop technique, the cable is sadly not realy flexible enough. While it does work, I don’t think it’s ideal here. Here, you’d have to buy some spare plastic cables.
The addi offers a very flexible, light and thin cable. So, perfect for magic loop. It does curl up quite a bit (in fact, the most of all four brands), and beginners might struggle a bit with that if they picked too long a cable for their project.
The HiyaHiya cables are pretty similar to the addi cables but even thinner yet. They are also very flexible. There is a strong memory effect, but they are equally well suited for magic loop in my opinion. I always feel the cable is a tiny bit too flimsy, and I do believe HiyaHiya has the worst connection to the cables.
So, what happens when you bend the cable too far? Like, when you accidentally step on it or so. That’s a tough question: On the surface, the metal wire of ChiaoGoo may end up with permanent kinks, while addi’s, HiyaHiya and Knitter’s Pride’s cables sort of seem to be more inclined to snap back into their original position, with KP seeming to be the most resilient.
That being said, you can sort of massage the kinks out in all cases. Putting the cables into hot water also helps to straighten them out/ get rid of the memory effect. What I have no way of really testing is how durable the “fixed” kink is in the long run. I would assume it does indeed damage the plastic a lot more structurally, which cannot be fixed, while the metal wire is less prone to break at that point. Then again, if that theory held true, probably the coating would break, which would be equally as bad, I guess. Those, however, are just guesses. In all my years of knitting, a cable never snapped.
What does happen, however, is that the cable snaps out of the hull. This never happened to me, but I found reports online for all major brands.
The boxing & Content
Let’s talk about the sets as a whole. In all fairness I have to mention that my Knitter’s Pride set is some 10 years old now, and I only bought replacement needles in the meantime. But other than the fancy wooden box, the content is, as far as I can see, still the same:
Typically 9 needles from US 4 (3.5mm) to US 16 (8.00mm), 4 cables, 8 cable stoppers, 4 cable keys, usually a very simple plastic sleeve, though deluxe editions are available (note: mine has only 8).
Typically 13 needles from US 2 (2.75 mm) to US 15 (10mm), 6 cables (3 small, 3 large), 4 durable cable stoppers, 2 cable extenders, 2 cable keys, stitch markers, a needle gauge all wrapped in a sewn fabric bag with zippers, and a small compartment on the front for the accessories.
Typically 8 needles from US 4 (3.5mm) to US 16 (8.00mm), 3 cables, 1 big cable connector, two screwing aids, all in a nice fake leather pochette with a little zipped compartment on the back for the cables.
The larger sets usually have 13 pairs of needles fro US size 2 to 15, 4 cables, 2 cable connectors, 2 small and 2 big tip adaptors, and between 2 needle stoppers. Much like ChiaoGoo, the HiyaHiya sets usually come in a sewn fabric bag with 2 compartments.
The only set available at the time of doing this test was a smaller lace set, which only came with 8 needles ( 2.75 mm to 5 mm), 4 cables, 2 connectors, 1 pin, 2 rubber patches, and quite a nice needle size card.
So, how do these compare?
In terms of the boxing, addi is probably the winner. That bag is durable, looks very high-end, and is very practical on top of that. I like the fact that it works with buttons instead of zippers (which often become clogged), though the rubber band might give you some trouble if you took too many needles out. The other three pouches are pretty flimsy, and I am not sure I would call ChiaoGoo a winner just because it uses some cheap cotton instead of see-through plastic. I like the fact, however, that they print the needle sizes on the different slots.
That being said, ChiaoGoo clearly offers the broadest range of knitting needles. HiyaHiya is pretty similar, and one could say their needle extenders make it even more versatile (thought CG offers them as well), but their small system only goes down to 2mm, while CG goes down to US OOO / 1.5mm. You can buy smaller and bigger needles for Knitter’s Pride and addi as well. But it does have to be mentioned that none of them go down to 2.75 mm / US 2 needles or lower.
You also get the most cables in the ChiaoGoo set, while addi sadly only adds 3 cables. So, if you have a lot of different works in progress, you might have to buy some spares.
The stitch markers and the needle gauge ChiaoGoo throws into their sets are a nice touch, but both look fairly flimsy. Kind of like cheap promotional items made in China, which, I guess, they are. The larger HiyaHiya usually come with similar gimmicks.
On a more critical note: The fact that Knitter’s Pride doesn’t include any cable extenders is pretty weak. Addi has at least one, but it’s fairly largeish and I’m not the biggest fan. ChiaoGoo, on the other hand, only included two screwing pins – these things are tiny and do get lost …like…a lot. And personally, I feel the HiyaHiya sets are not exactly gender-neutral. Not everyone likes pandas (whaaat? :P) and cases in reds and purples. Also, my small set didn’t have cable stoppers and only one screwing pin. I felt that was pretty weak.
I also really don’t like the fact that both ChiaoGoo and HiyaHiya work with two different cable sizes. The smaller needle sizes need a different cable (where the screw is smaller) than the bigger needles. For example with addi, the same cable works on a 3.5mm needle and an 8 mm needle. With CG or HH, you need a different cable, and different cable extenders, and different cable stoppers, etc. I feel this contradicts the whole versatility idea behind an interchangeable knitting needle set.
Listen, I totally understand why you would need a different cable below 3mm. But CG makes the cut at 5.5 mm. A lot of knitters never touch those 2.00 mm or even 1.50 mm needles anyway, so I wouldn’t call getting a different set of cables and accessories for those a disadvantage. But 4.00 mm is quite the common size for a lot of projects – and so is 6.00 mm for blankets and sweaters.
Both offer needle adaptors to make those small cables work for the bigger sizes. But a) this means buying these adaptors b) it doesn’t work the other way round (from big to small) and c) this means another join (read: weak link) in your needles.
To put everything into perspective, we need to talk about the price. For that, I checked out the current average list price on Amazon. In parenthesis, I also added the average price per needle, as some sets are indeed larger than others.
- ChiaoGoo Big 5″ Twist Red lace set: $155-165 (price per needle: ~$12.3)
- HiyaHiya big 5″ needle gift set: $153-164.49 (price per needle: ~$12.21)
- Addi Long Lace tips: $105-129 (price per needle: ~$14.63)
- Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina Deluxe: 69.18 (price per needle: $7.69)
Addi offers quality made in Germany, but you clearly pay for it. I do have to say, that the needles are quite a bit cheaper here in Germany (so it probably has to do with import tariffs). ChiaoGoo and HiyaHiya are basically the same prices, while Knitter’s Pride clearly is the most affordable option of them all.
Bottom Line: Which interchangeable needle set is the best?
I personally believe in buying the best tools available for your craft. But if you are not a pure lace knitter and need extra sharp points, I am not sure you can justify almost twice the cost. The Knitter’s Pride needles are, on a fundamental level, very similar to ChiaoGoo. Sure, there is a slight difference when it comes to the joins. The cables, on the other hand, are a matter of preference, and so is having a galvanized needle or a pure stainless steel needle (almost no grip vs a bit of grip).
I think ChiaoGoo and HiyaHiya can be a great option for lace knitters and makers who favor very small needle sizes and like the extra variability. Here, I think it depends on the projects you prefer: The wire cables are nice for flat projects, while the very flexible plastic cables are better for knitting in the round.
Getting a 4″ HiyaHiya set and working with the needle extenders might offer you the greatest variability if you are knitting projects with diverse needle requirements (small circumference circular projects, big lace shawls, etc).
ChiaoGoo is probably the best set to invest for knitters who like to knit with very small needle sizes and durable cables (though I personally do prefer the fixed carbon needles by Knitter’s pride, but that’s a different story as these tiny sizes are not available as an interchangeable set; the big ones are).
Addi is a great choice for people who are sick of screws, like to change between lace and round tips, and generally like a highly finished product. Admittedly, not everyone likes click-mechanism.
Knitter’s Pride is a great budget option that is still almost up to all the other brands in terms of quality and durability. I do believe that the Nova Platina is the fasted knitting needle around, though the round-tipped addi sets are a very close second.
Here are the shopping links for all four sets one more time for your convenience:
- ChiaoGoo Twist Red Lace Interchangeable Set
- Hiya Hiya 5 Inch Sharp Limited Edition Deluxe
- addi Knitting Needles Click Mixed Set (here a link to the Standard Rocket (Long) Lace Tips)
- Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina
Are interchangeable knitting needle sets worth it?
Last, but not least, I want to talk about whether it is worth investing in an interchangeable needle set or not. Even if you take the cheapest option, it is still a lot of money. So, if you are still feeling unsure, you should consider starting with a smaller set or simply buying singles. One cable, one interchangeable needle, and try things out. If you like it, buy the whole set. As the singles are compatible, you really didn’t waste money. Still, here are a few things to consider:
- You almost always have the right needle size for a project at home. No need to go shopping for new needles in case you want to start a new project with new yarn.
- If something breaks, you can easily exchange parts instead of throwing the whole needle away.
- Often cheaper than buying single needles.
- You can attach two different needle sizes to a cable for interesting new possibilities. That way, you can combat different gauge with knits and purls. Or use a round tip for extra fast knitting in the return row, and a sharp tip for the right side with all the complicated stitches.
- Cables and cable stoppers allow you to put a WIP on hold easily, letting you use the needles for a different project.
- You can attach different needle lengths (4″ and 5″) at different stages of your project.
- With the magic loop technique, you are also set for most circular projects with a very small diameter.
- These sets ARE expensive. So, only worth it for intermediate knitters who really make use of the full possibilities of a set. If you only ever knit with 3mm / US 3 needles, you really don’t need the full set.
- The joins are less durable than fixed circular needles. Not much, but they do break more often.
- Not ideal for projects with a very small diameter (like socks) where even 4″ is too long (unless you do magic loop of course; or buy one of the mini tips).
- Very few small needle sizes are available. And those that are, are not the most durable.
- Your knitting preferences may change over time and then you are stuck with a big set you don’t need.