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I'm a knitter who's allergic to nickel. Are there any circular knitting needles made without nickel, chrome, or stainless steel?

  • Lots of people can turn wooden knitting needles. – bowlturner Apr 27 '16 at 14:30
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    @bowlturner But how many of them can also attach a good cable? – Belisama Apr 29 '16 at 15:21
  • depends! ;) I probably could! – bowlturner Apr 29 '16 at 15:23
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Non-metal circular knitting needles (wood or bamboo) are also available.

This is an example of bamboo needles with a plastic cord connecting them:

enter image description here

  • I wouldn't be surprised if you could make your own from just some hardwood dowel. Would have less control of the sizes though. – Matt Apr 29 '16 at 3:01
  • The connecting cord would be more difficult, I think. Not for a very apt woodworker, though :) – Erica Apr 29 '16 at 10:19
  • Clover is probably the worst possible example to use, as they are terrible needles. If they were the only option, I'd stick to DPNs. – Belisama Apr 29 '16 at 13:33
  • @Belisama I'm happy to choose a different image/brand to illustrate. Suggestions? – Erica Apr 29 '16 at 13:40
  • @Erica . . . I can't actually think of any good wood/bamboo circulars that don't have metal joins. >.< – Belisama Apr 29 '16 at 15:20
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There are a number of non-nickel options available, though the good ones tend to be more expensive than the mainstream options and the inexpensive ones of poorer quality. The most established options:

Signature Needle Arts makes aluminum needles. These are very good (sharp points, flexible cables), but pricey and only available online.

Boye also makes aluminum needles. These are reasonably good and reasonably priced and are probably the sweet spot for nickel-free circulars.

Clover makes bamboo circulars. They are inexpensive, but suffer from dull points and terrible cables.

New Hue Handspuns sells carbon fiber circulars. I have no personal experience with this brand, but the points and cables look at least reasonable, probably on par with Boye. Only available online.

Addi offers plastic circulars. These are similar to bamboo in terms of price (low) and quality (meh).

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    I've got plastic (needles and cord) circular knitting needles, but I think they'd suffer from the same "dull points and terrible cables" you mention for the bamboo. – Erica Apr 29 '16 at 15:24
  • I wouldn’t recommend Boye aluminums for anything. The tips are dull and the cables are stiff and kinky. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Apr 12 at 18:38
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ChiaoGoo Red Lace are my favorite needles, and they’re made of surgical steel, which should be safe for people allergic to nickel. ChiaoGoo’s FAQ seems to say that while some of their older bamboo needles have nickel-plated joins, all their current products are nickel-free (though there’s some ambiguity about some of their bamboo needles).

  • I should mention that the cables (plastic-coated steel) are strong and soft on the Red Lace, the tips are sharp, the finish has just the right amount of friction, and the cable joins are just about perfect. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Apr 12 at 18:42
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Addi, famous for their exquisitely smooth nickel needles, also makes two other styles involving brass instead of nickel:

  1. Addi Turbo Lace Knitting needles: the entire needle is made of brass (top needle in below photo):
  2. Addi Natura Bamboo Knitting needles: the connector is made of brass (bottom needle in below photo):

enter image description here

I personally have used all three of the above Addi circular models extensively, and find them to be wonderful choices when matched to the yarn and project properly. The "Natura" bamboo model is especially great for very slippery yarns such as silk or alpaca. The Lace model has a more pointed tip, extremely helpful for those pesky ssk and k2togbtl stitches involved in lacework. I have found the join to be just as smooth as claimed, for all of the Addi models. It looks like Addi / Skacel have recently released an olive wood circular line which also features a brass connector.

References:

top photo: Camilla Valley Farm (via Google image search)

Addi website: A comparison of their styles of circular knitting needles

  • Be aware, though, that brass has a particular feel that some people may not like. I can’t stand my Addi Turbos, even though they’re decent needles: the brass feels clammy and makes my hands smell funny. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Apr 12 at 18:33
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The other option that you can do if you have a set that you love is use clear nail polish to seal the metal. While you use the nail polish, use nitrile gloves as a barrier to avoid touching the nickel.

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