There was a great buzz among knitters I know when KnitPro launched their new Karbonz knitting needles. Everyone who bought them loved them and the hype grew. Soon after the initial buzz, there seemed to be a 50/50 split between those who loved these needles and those who disliked them.
Looking at images, I wasn't impressed by the look, I have to admit. Black needles? Hm, no. From a practical point of view, I wondered if the construction would hinder my knitting: Karbonz have a brass tip, carbon fibre middle, and a brass end, I figured knitting would feel different depending on where on the needle your stitches were. Due to this, I waited a long time to buy them.
In the end, I did go for the interchangeable needle tips to expand my existing collection. The needles arrived and felt good in my hand. They are quite smooth, light, and the joins between carbon fibre and metal is noticeable, but not too much. They are also very light, but I couldn't tell if they really had any give in them as KnitPro claims. I am inclined to say no, at least for knitting purposes it seems to make no difference.
Putting them to the test
When knitting with my Karbonz, I did feel the difference in materials along the needles' three sections, which I really did not enjoy. I like my stitches to slip easily and quickly along the needle, which is what happens at the brass tips, only to be held up along the carbon fibre part of the needles. That was a little frustrating, though not unexpected.
I think the hype surrounding these needles is down to the carbon fibre used to make them. How cool is it to be able to say your knitting needles are made from the same material as air planes and NASA spaceships? Sadly, I think they are seriously overrated. The material also makes the Karbonz quite a bit more expensive than KnitPro's Nova range or even their wooden needles.
Having four different kinds of KnitPro knitting needles in my collection now, I would rate them as follows:
2. Rosewood Cubics
2 and 3 are nearly interchangeable. I liked the grippiness of the Cubics, but I use them carefully as I hear they are prone to breaking. Symfonie have been my favourites for a long time, but have been surpassed by the Nova range now as I begin to favour their sturdiness and easy gliding of stitches.
Despite my personal dislike of my Karbonz, I see how they could be a good alternative for knitters who like the feel of wooden needles, but keep breaking them. Karbonz are similarly 'warm' and also have better grip than needles made from metal. You don't have to worry about breaking them if you are a tight knitter or dropping and stepping on them accidentally. They'll be fine. I did hear of knitters who had the tips fall off they're needles, but KnitPro is very good about exchanging them for you.
All in all, my experience with Karbonz boils down to this:
- Brass needle tips make knitting into stitches easy and quick
- The change between materials isn't always smooth enough
- The different materials make for jarring knitting
- Overhyped material
- Boring black with no colour choices
That said, this list is very subjective, of course, because I have certain preferences that you may not share. I know I like colourful needles, for instance, or ideally even a choice of colours. I like the needles to be of the same material all over (and certainly not made of plastic). I like my stitches to glide quickly and easily along my needles even though that increases the risk of slipped stitches sometimes. Price isn't a great concern, usually, as I will be happy to save up for a good set as long as they are worth it.
So before buying Karbonz, I would suggest looking at what is important to you when you knit. These may be just the needles you want, or they may not.