Interchangeable Needle Comparison

Have you ever found a Ravelry pattern and a perfect yarn from your stash, ready to relax with a new project, only to discover your LYS closed at 5:30 and you don’t have the appropriate needles? An interchangeable needle set may be a great way to buy the needles you will use for your knitting life. For intermediate knitters and above, no knitter should be without them, especially one competent in Magic Loop or working in the round on two circulars. CONSIDER A SET OR TWO FOR YOUR HOLIDAY GIFT LIST!
I tested sets with sharp metal tips, short metal tips (to include a 16”/40 cm circular) and a broad range of needle sizes. Test conditions: 2-ply sport weight (100% Montana Targhee Sheep Wool from Randy Glick purchased at Billings first annual Fiber Fest) on US 6 circulars with a top-down sweater pattern with lace inset, Princess Fiona by Amy Miller.
Sets tested included:
Addi Click Lace Short Tip Set
ChiaoGoo Twist 4” Tip Set (product no. 7400-C)
HiyaHiya Sharp 4” Interchangeable combining Large and Small Sets for a fair comparison
These are all high quality needles and I own all of them. I will summarize the pros and cons from a heavy user perspective:
Fastest and smoothest tips – Addi. These feel substantial.
Best needle size range – HiyaHiya (Large and Small sets combined) and ChiaoGoo.
Best cord size range - Addi wins, having 5 cord lengths (4 with HiyaHiya and 3 with ChiaoGoo in the sets without optional accessories).
Ease in knitting with a connector between 2 cords - BY FAR – HiyaHiya. I own extra longer cords in ChiaoGoo and Addi to prevent using the connectors with the later brands except in an emergency (i.e. 12 projects on needles all at once!)
Ease in knitting with the tip and cord connection – the yarn “jumps” over the ridge in Addi, which does not damage the yarn.
Best included accessories – Addi and ChiaoGoo. Both companies have wonderful rulers/needle gauges, with ChiaoGoo’s more useful with gauge swatches with 5” length. HiyaHiya has no needle gauge, which I find annoying as I never start a project with a needle tip without confirming with a needle gauge what size it is! ChiaoGoo has nice stoppers and stitch markers but its fabric zipper case opens with difficulty at one corner of my set.
Lifelines – standard in ChiaoGoo and optional in HiyaHiya in their accessory line. A lifeline hole allows you to knit with project yarn plus a thread through the hole, sometimes used in lace knitting, to frog back to a spot in the work without a mistake.
Best cords – this is a tough call, with no clear winner. Twist by ChiaoGoo is memory free compared to the other brands (their cords can get in the way in longer lengths). Stitches move along the cord slower, however, with ChiaoGoo. HiyaHiya cords swivel on the connector without apparent purpose. Addi Lace Short cords bend a bit at the join with the connector that fits on the tips.
Cost – Addi and ChiaoGoo are a better buy compared to having to buy two sets of HiyaHiya.
My overall recommendation:  the Addi set for the nickel plated tips, relative cost and more cord lengths.  For those wanting a set with a fuller range of tip sizes, I recommend ChiaoGoo with additional purchase of longer cords as accessories instead of purchasing the Large/Small combination of Hiya/Hiya sets. Enjoy!