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The Plymouth case Inside the case

Needle Profile:
Plymouth Bamboo Sister Set

Plymouth Yarn

You've just taken your seat for a cross-country flight. Six luxurious hours of knitting lie ahead of you. Pulling out your project, you re-read your pattern and glance at your needles. As you read the pattern again, and glance at the needles again, a horrible sinking feeling comes over you. The pattern requires size 6 needles and you mistakenly brought size 8s.

Before you have time to let out a shriek of distress, a stranger taps you on the shoulder. From her trenchcoat pocket she pulls out a small navy case, whips out two size-6 circular tips, expertly screws them onto a clear plastic cable, hands them to you, and then disappears into the back of the plane.

Who was that trenchcoat-clad savior? But more important, what was that magic case, and how can you get one?

What It Is
It's a Plymouth Bamboo Sister Set of interchangeable circular needle tips from Plymouth Yarns. While there are other interchangeable circular needle sets out there, this is one of only two I know of that uses natural bamboo materials for the needles. (The other is a larger set from Webs that comes in a fabric case.) Best of all, the entire set is no bigger than your standard PDA. I carry mine everywhere.

What You Get
The kit comes with six needle tip sets in sizes from US 5 to US 10. Each tip has its own individual pocket in the case. Four clear cables (for 18", 24", 32", and 40" needles) fit snugly in two separate inside pockets. A single snap closure keeps case contents secure. Such perfect order makes me feel good every time I open the case.

I've put these needles to a far more rigorous test than usual. Here's why.

I found my set at a yarn store, where a single set was prominently displayed by the cash register. Although priced at a steep $99, I couldn't resist. It was love at first sight.

But when I got home, I discovered that three of the cable caps had already popped off, leaving me with only two functional connector cables.

Plymouth quickly sent me replacement cables, no questions asked. But since I knew the tips could pop off, I made a concerted effort to use these needles almost constantly for the past two months. The good news is that I've had no further problems.

I'd like to think that the broken needle caps were an isolated incident—perhaps an overzealous child playing with them in the store. But even if it does happen again, I know Plymouth will take care of the problem immediately.

October 2008 Update: Since publishing this review, every single cable in my set—even in the replacement cables—has popped off. I cannot in good conscience recommend a product that has delivered a 100% failure rate, especially at this price. Buyer beware.

Using Them
The bamboo needles have a nice patina and a rubbed, velvety surface. The needles have a short taper and a fairly blunt tip. The cables themselves are fairly rigid. You have to loop them pretty tight to fit in the case—and this crimp stays there when you unravel them for use.

To fix this, all you have to do is run moderately hot (but not scalding) tap water along the cable, holding each metal end with your fingers, so that the water doesn't get into the joins. The hot water immediately relaxes the crimp and makes these cables fine for use.

What You Don't Get
Some interchangeable kits such as the Denise provide extra cables and a way to join them to form an even longer cable. They also offer end caps so you can use the cable as a super long stitch holder. The Plymouth set offers none of that. What you see is what you get here.

For that reason, if you're looking for the ultimate stranded-on-a-desert-island set that will carry you through thick and thin, you'll want to stick with the Boye or Denise sets. If compact portability isn't an issue, you'll get more sizes and options with the Webs set. But if you tend to use needles between sizes 5 and 10 and want a super compact, beautifully designed tuck-in-your-pocket set—especially if you prefer the feel of bamboo over metals and plastics—this one's for you.

October 2008 update: Having had all my cords in this set fail, including the ones that Plymouth sent as replacements for earlier cords that failed, I must retract my recommendation for these needles.

Available Sizes

Needles marked in U.S. and mm sizes.

Each kit comes with:

6 pairs needle heads, sizes US 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10

4 cords to create 18", 24", 32", and 40" needles

Average retail price
Where to buy online
Woodland Woolworks
Made in

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