Tools for Taming Needles:
The Denise Organizer
I've used Denise Interchangeable knitting needles for years now, first using the standard set and more recently the pink Interchangeables. They're infinitely portable, flexible, and practical for almost every knitting use. If I'd had to come up with one complaint, it would've been the shiny plastic box in which they ship.
I realize that the needles are also plastic, manufactured just 15 minutes from Denise headquarters. And I realize that the case is organizationally brilliant. Everything has a dedicated spot in the box, it all fits perfectly, and it snaps firmly shut. Open a fully stocked Denise case and you get a gleeful sense that you have everything you need to conquer the world.
Except for a few things. You can't easily add other gadgets—scissors, cable needles, darning needles, measuring tapes, etc.—to the case. If I wanted to bring my needle set and my other gadgets or (gasp!) perhaps a few DPNs, I'd have to dedicate twice the real estate in my knitting bag—and sometimes there just isn't room. It's hardly a tragedy, but it's the only potential drawback I saw in the Denise needles.
I wasn't the only one who felt this way. Emily Krag, daughter of Denise owner Linda Krag and a loyal employee of the family business, has been hard at work creating a more flexible fabric carrying case for the Denise needles.Made in the...huh?
An eye-opening fact about U.S. labeling requirements is that Emily could have contracted a factory in China to manufacture the entire inside portions of the Organizer and ship them to the U.S. As long as they were snapped in place in the U.S., she still could've labeled the product "Made in the U.S.A."
But the Krags are, as I've discovered over the years I've known them, a principled family. Emily was determined to source every component of the case in the United States if possible—and to produce a really good product.
The process took significantly longer than expected, but the Denise Organizer is finally here.
Introducing The Organizer
The Denise Organizer is made from a soft 100% cotton canvas fabric edged with thicker ribbon reinforcement. It is lined with 600-denier water-repellant nylon material on the inside.
Those inside pockets are secured behind a clear plastic window that zips shut for safekeeping—so you can put all sorts of extra goodies in that compartment too.
They will work as stand-alone hooks but will also attach to Denise cords for Tunisian crochet or for knitterly things like picot edging and picking up stitches. They are expected to come out in time for the winter holidays.
I like these inside pouches because you can un-snap them from the Organizer and toss them in your knitting bag when you just need the essentials.
Compared to the Competition
How does this bag compare to the Soft Tackle Binder Bags I reviewed a few years ago? Besides the fact that all the binder bags I've tested were made in China?
For starters, the binder bags had a greater presence in my knitting bag. They're big, and they tend to be lined with a heavy plastic reinforcement that makes the bag take up a lot of space, even if it wasn't totally full of stuff.
The Denise Organizer has a decidedly soft and floppy feel to it. It expands and contracts with its contents, giving it a less substantial presence in your knitting bag. The flip-side of the floppiness is that if you stuff the inside pockets with needles, you get slightly puffy ridges on the outside of the bag.
Of course the Denise Organizer is specifically designed for the Denise needles, but that only manifests itself in the left front pocket, whose short compartments won't accommodate most DPNs. You could use it for other interchangeable needle sets, and/or to store your circulars and DPNs, and just get creative with those inside front pockets.
The binder bags were designed for use near water, so they tended to have firmer waterproof exteriors. A quick jaunt under a stream of water indicated that the Denise Organizer has not been treated with any kind of chemical waterproofing material. The cotton absorbed the water immediately.
The inner nylon lining kept the liquid from actually reaching anything inside the case, though. And after a few hours my bag was completely dry and spot-free. If you need to wash your case for any reason, Emily recommends wiping it with a soapy sponge, rinsing it, and letting it air dry.
I also noticed that the soft cotton exterior tended to attract lint—nothing that masking tape couldn't remove, of course. Emily acknowledged that they definitely went for "feel" first when choosing the fabric, adding about the lint, "I like to think of it as a display for the wonderful yarns that daily pass through my hands and leave their colorful fibers as reminders."
The Denise Organizer measures approximately 7 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches when closed—actually a little larger than the standard Denise case. It retails for $55 and will soon be available at local yarn stores around the world. If your LYS doesn't yet carry it, you can also buy it online directly from Denise.
The Organizer is currently available in Royal Blue (shown), Forest Green, Brick Red, and Charcoal Gray. Needles, cords, or any other Denise components are sold separately.
A Question of Cost
I know that Emily was disappointed she couldn't bring the bag to market for less—and that they're taking a lower manufacturing markup to keep the retail price down. The ultimate truth is that it costs more to manufacture most things in this country. Therefore, this bag—which is made in the U.S. of quality material—costs more.
But if you compare it to other knitting-specific organizers I've reviewed, the price difference is less striking. The Lexie Barnes Kitty retails for $50, and the Della Q Que retails for $44, and both of these products are imported from Vietnam and don't offer quite the flexibility that the Denise Organizer does. But they do come in gorgeous, colorful fabrics.
Which brings us to the final question: Will more colors be available? Yes, but not right away.