Monday, May 7, 2012

Venting My Spleen: DyakCraft Needles & More

Notice to my regular blog followers: Chances are super-high that this post will not interest you. At all. But this is information I wish I had about eight months ago, so I'm putting it out there in hopes that someone else that needs it might find it. Feel free to ignore this post and rejoin the blog at my next random babbling.

Back in October, I decided I wanted a set of interchangeable knitting needles. I'm not a big fan of metal needles (they are too slippery for me and have a tendency to fall out of my work) or acrylic/plastic/resin (I don't like the feeling they give me when the needles touch each other), so I knew I wanted wood needles. Only thing is, there just didn't seem to be a lot of wooden sets out there.

I have used (and still use) KnitPicks Harmony needles as well as Knitter's Pride Dreamz needles (aside from the colors, the two are basically the same thing - the cables are even swappable between the brands) and they were fine but I felt there had to be a more luxe option out there. So I Googled.

One set kept coming up: DyakCraft's Darn Pretty needles. To read about them online, they sound like the second coming in needle form. Since I wasn't really finding any other options and these sounded so wonderful, I ordered some. The wait time listed on the website was up to three months. No problem. I'm getting good at that patience thing. I can wait three months for what sounds like perfection.

At about my three month mark, the DyakCraft website was updated to say they had an up to a six month wait time. Darn. Okay, not what I was anticipating but I'll wait. I mean, they are supposed to be awesome so another few months isn't a big deal.

Approaching my five month mark, I hadn't heard anything so I emailed the Diaks and asked for a ballpark of the time remaining. I didn't need an exact date, just an estimate. I received a friendly (though perhaps a bit harried) response that the order wasn't lost (as I had feared) but they couldn't estimate as to the time remaining. Alright, well, she (Linda) was nice and I've been cultivating patience since Dan and I started the Dave Ramsey budgeting a number of years ago. I could be Zen about it.

As we passed my six month mark, I started to get antsy. I started reading things online. I started hearing about burrs on the needles and crimping cables. But most people online brushed these issues off - they weren't a big deal because the Diaks were great about fixing any problems that came up so no worries, you'd get perfect needles, even if it didn't happen on the first try. Then a few dissenting voices started to pop up - the cables weren't the most wonderful things ever. People started mentioning that sure, the cables had a memory, but a nice soak in very hot water fixed that. Uh oh. Now I'm starting to worry. I detest cables so stiff that you are told to soak them in hot water. I have never been successful in getting a cable to straighten out with just hot water. So doubts started creeping in. But still, these needles were supposed to be great, right? And mine have to be ready any day now, right?

Currently, I am less than two weeks away from my order's eight month anniversary. I am still needle-less and the website still says there is a six month wait time. I have emailed the company twice and had no response. I started stalking the Diaks on Ravelry where there is a group dedicated to DyakCraft products and I recently saw a comment Linda Diak made in which she stated:
Communication - I doubt I will be able to communicate to everyone’s satisfaction in the near future, if ever. I have worked to let go of that expectation, as the subsequent stress of trying stops me in my tracks.
Wait, wait, wait. So my order is almost five months past the time I was told to expect it and almost two months after the extended time currently posted on the website but you won't respond to my emails because people expecting you to respond stresses you out?

And did I mention that I paid for my order in full back in October?

Needless to say, I am displeased. I am ready to cancel my order and get a refund. The only reason I haven't cancelled it yet is because I haven't settled on an alternative and I figure that I might as well keep the order open until I find the needle set I want to buy, just in case a miracle happens and my DyakCraft order actually gets fulfilled. Then perhaps I will get the needles and discover they truly are the second coming in knitting needle form and were worth the extended wait and horrible customer service. (If that does happen, I will be sure to post about it and link to the update in this post.) And if that doesn't happen? Well, DyakCraft offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. (Updated 5/8: I cancelled my order.)

Because of my motivation to find an alternative needle set, I have been doing more intensive searching as to what wooden interchangeable needles there are out there. This is what I've found:

KA Switch: On paper, I'm in love with these. I have yet to touch a needle but they just sound so neat. First off, they are bamboo which, honestly, I'm not a huge fan of (I have one set of Clover circulars that I detest with a passion and it has made me biased against bamboo), but their websites says they use only "two kinds of the finest, aged bamboo, which are superior in density, flexibility, color and gloss" so I'm willing to give them a shot, especially for that "gloss" bit.

They have probably the largest variety of needles available for any interchangeable set I've seen - sizes US0 to US15 are available with three different diameter cables (the diameter depends on the needle size); they have 4" needles in US0 - US10.5, 5" needles in US4 - US15 and, get this, 2" needles in sizes US0 - US8. Yes, 2" long needles. And they have 5" long cables for them so you can make a 9" circular. Honestly, I have no idea if I would ever want or need a 9" circ, but how cool is it that I could have one? (Mind you, all of those different needles do not come in the same set. They have the short set of the 2" needles and a couple different sets of the 4" and 5" needles in various sizes and the extended set that offers most of the available sizes.) The needles also have a swivel cable and screw join (both features that were selling points for me with the DyakCraft needles).

So yeah, I love everything I hear about the KAs. I found a few places online that sell them - Pink Feather Knitting, Paradise Fibers and Kaleidoscope Yarns (full disclosure: three or four days ago I emailed Pink Feather and Paradise with a few questions about the KAs and haven't heard back from either place) - but there is nowhere nearby that I can go to test them out. So I ordered a US9 with a 19.5" cable on eBay to get my grubby little mitts on a set to try them out.

HiyaHiya Bamboo: Currently, these are my theoretical second choice. They are also bamboo but these are impregnated with resin which is supposed to make them stronger and smoother than typical bamboo needles, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. (I'm really trying to not let my one Clover circ taint all bamboo for me.... trying is the operative word.) These come in two sets split into a 4" or 5" small set (US2 - US8) and a 5" large set (US9 - US15) and each set uses a different diameter cable.

After the excitement of finding a set that offers both 2" needles and sizes as small as a US0, HiyaHiya isn't quite as exciting to me, but I did go ahead and order a US10.5 with a 32" cable. These were my number one choice until I happened upon KA so I figure it is only right that I can have a needle face off to see which I like better (and if either are my ideal interchangeable).

Next up we have a few other options that aren't my cup of tea (or at least aren't until KA and HiyaHiya don't work out for me), but maybe they would be for someone else looking for wood interchangeables so I'll list them here.

Addi Natura Click: Addi offers these bamboo interchangeables in sizes US4 - US11. While Addis in their various incarnations seem to be the high end metal needles, the bamboo just didn't excite me, mostly because they only have 5" needles available. While I'm not thrilled that a 5" needle length means that a 24" circ is the shortest circular you can make, circ-size alone isn't a huge deal. But I do find that shorter needles fit my hands better so only having 5" length available makes me go 'meh'.

Lantern Moon: Lantern Moon actually makes two interchangeable sets, one in Ebony and one in Rosewood. I've seen pictures of them and they look lovely and quite fancy (and I adore the case). However, the reason I quickly marked these off my possible list was because of the cable - I found a Lantern Moon group on Ravelry and the most common complaint about these was the cable was so stiff, you could not magic loop. I'm not a magic-loop-or-bust kind of knitter (I probably like DPNs a little more except for when knitting two-at-a-time) but I find it helpful at times and am not willing to purchase something so massively expensive that would prevent me from using such the technique.

Clover Takumi: I detest my Clover Takumi 26" fixed circular with a passion. They are so sticky and grabby on my yarn that I feel like I'm knitting with sandpaper any time I use them and the point makes a bowling ball look sharp. So yes, I hate these and didn't even consider the interchangeable set. But it is out there and apparently some people enjoy them. From what little I've read about them, though, they are more on the value end of things and for that category of wood interchangeable, I'll just stick with the ugly but super smooth and pointy KnitPicks Harmony.

Colonial Needle Company Rosewood Interchangeable and WEBS Interchangeable Needle: I found these both on Webs but when doing a tad more searching, it looks like both sets are made by Colonial Needle Company but they are letting Webs put their name on the more 'budget' bamboo set. Anyway, I've run across these several times but quickly dismissed them. They just leave me cold. It took me a while to figure out, but I've finally put my finger on it: the sets - from the cases they come in to the black bases on the large needles to the stoppers - just look cheap. And from some of the reviews I've read on Webs, their quality is pretty cheap, too. (Though, in their defense, a fair number of people seem to adore them and have no problems.) So there are two more for the "they don't interest me but they are out there" pile.

And lastly, there is KnitPicks Harmony and Knitter's Pride Dreamz: I'm listing these together because they might as well be the same brand to me. The cables are interchangeable between the sets and, aside from wood color, I haven't been able to tell a difference between the needles. (From what I have heard, the needles are made by the same manufacturer.) Ultimately, if none of the interchangeables I've listed above work for me, I'll probably stick with these (though I imagine at some point I'll try Knitter's Pride Cubics since they are square knitting needles, which I think it pretty cool, and have 4" tips available).

The main reason why I'm not settling for these now is because I have had a few issues with these brands in general. I have some Knitter's Pride DPNs that came with small nicks and splits in some of the needles; I filed them down with a nail file and put a little nail polish on them and that has stopped them from catching the yarn so they are useable now, but that still rankles a bit. I've also had issues with some smaller fixed circulars splitting and breaking. Webs (where I bought the circs) has great customer service and replaced the broken needles promptly, but I'd really rather they not have broken in the first place.

As for KnitPicks, I haven't had any issues with their Harmony needles, but until yesterday I only owned one pair. I have, however, had massive issues with their Zephyr acrylic needles coming apart (I got their sample set - one pair each of their wood, metal and acrylic needles) which just gives me concerns about general quality control issues within their brand. Plus, perhaps it is unfair but since I mentally lump KnitPicks and Knitter's Pride together, all the issues I've had with Knitter's Pride I see as possible with KnitPicks. (Hmm, yes, looking at that in black and white, that is rather unfair.) And all that being said, I just cast on a new project with some Harmony US10 and have enjoyed the tips so far - very smooth and pointy - but I did end up fighting with the cable a few times since they don't swivel.

So there we go. A massive post about something most folks won't be interested in. But, like I said earlier, I really wish I had been able to find this information months ago so maybe this will help someone else.

Other posts in my needle hunt saga:
This page is Part I A, Part I B is here
Part II
Part III
Some gushing about the big winner
My KA Switch Short set review
And my Chiaogoo Spin and Twist review is here

10 comments:

  1. Ok... the part about the not responding to emails would have turned me off immediately. Sending a bulk email would be better than no communication whatsoever. I'm a small business owner, but I make a point to respond to all my customers, regardless of the stress I might be experiencing. At times the unexpected does happen, how you react with your customer base is extremely important.

    Initially I'd thought about purchasing Darn Pretty Needles, but after researching I decided I didn't want to wait on the needles, regardless of how good they were. The wait time also made me wonder what would happen if I needed a needle replacement. Shortly afterwards, I purchased the Knit Picks Options (nickel plate) set , and later I most likely will purchase the Signature needles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to agree with you there. I honestly wasn't having issues with having to wait so much as I was with the inaccurate information and, ultimate, the lack of information all together. Good customer service makes all the difference - even if DC needles end up being a perfect 10, I'd rather buy a 7 or 8 needle from somewhere with a 10 for customer service. I've always had great customer service from Knit Picks, even though I have had problems with their needles. (Fortunately, the needles I picked are a perfect 10 for me and, while I haven't had to get anything replaced yet, all signs point to great customer service, too!)

      Delete
    2. I had toyed with getting the Dynacraft needles, even after learning about the long wait time. I've had my Knit Picks set for a few weeks. I knew about the issues some had with their needles, but their customer service seems great, and so I still chose them. I have plenty of fixed circulars so the wait time for the Darn Pretty Needles I thought would be "ok". But your post has helped me tremendously.

      After reading your post, I did additional research and stumbled upon others (I found two topics on Knitting Paradise) who had a similar experience. Many, like you, had been waiting a long time. They loved their needles but it seemed they weren't too thrilled about the service. Additionally quite a few of the posters had gone long periods without communication from the company. Linda, the wife, stopped by in one of those posts, and commented about the issue, and her attitude mentioned in your post was similar on that forum too. She even mentioned the comment you left above. I was a bit stunned by that.

      It clearly sounds like they're overwhelmed. Which is understandable, since it's just the two of them. While part of my can relate to that you still need to communicate with your customers.

      Thanks again for the honest review. It really helped me with my decision.

      Delete
    3. I'm really glad the review was helpful! While I don't doubt that many people have great experiences with the Diaks, I think a lot of people with dissenting opinions feel that their view is unwelcome. I think you are right in that the Diaks are overwhelmed. Hopefully they can dig their way out and I'll admit, I'm tempted to try the needles to see if they are as awesome as some say they are, but at the same time, I am hesitant to reward a company with such customer service issues. We'll see what happens if and when they can get stuff under control!

      Delete
  2. I am now at 45 weeks into my wait for these paid in full Darn Pretty Needles. I have sent emails also with no response. OMG, don't complain in the Darn Pretty Needle group online, those people act like your in the wrong wanting something you paid for. I'm calling BBB tomorrow 11/26/2012. This is just bad business. And guess what they are still taking orders! Thank you for letting me vent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delay in publishing your comment - I was out of town. Yes, the DPN group isn't the best place to say anything negative. It is a fan group, so I suppose I understand, but there's not really an alternative when emails aren't returned. The whole thing is kind of a crazy situation!

      Delete
  3. I have used the Knitters Pride Dreamz, the Clover bamboo, the Lantern Moon Ebony and the Tulip Carry C. I love knitting with the Lantern Moon! I do not find the cables to be stiff and I find the opposite to be true. I can knit a hat almost to the tip because the cords are very flexible. I tighten them by hand and they never unscrew and my yarn never gets caught. The Knitters Pride continued to unscrew and get caught in my yarn and the cords did not bend with the work. The Lantern Moon cords swivel with the work. I really think they are worth the money spent. It makes the knitting a joy not a challenge to fight with the needles.

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks for the heads up. I was just about to place an order when I read this. caveat emptor!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi - at Vogue Knitting Live NY this weekend, i learned of Skacel/Addi's new interchangeable knitting line of olive wood needles. I bought one fixed circular needle to see if i would like the feel. Maybe that will give you the quality without the wait?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, that sounds interesting. I'll have to check them out (though I do greatly dislike Addi's joins in their bamboo interchangeables). Since Dyakcraft no longer makes their wooden needles, more alternatives are definitely good!

      Delete