sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Holz & Stein, Susanne's, Lantern Moon ebony double pointed needle smackdown

(Looking for the Holz & Stein and sock yarn contest? Ends Sunday!)



Picture intensive post to follow...

Mainly pictures, since when I was looking for a comparison of Holz und Steins and Susanne's and Lantern Moon double points in ebony I couldn't really find a comprehensive one, so here you go.

Before we begin... The Lantern Moons were sold to me by my LYS as ebony, even though they are a dark brown. I know ebony can be dark brown (one of my H&S are dark brown as opposed to black, below), but I have wondered if the LMs are rosewood and not ebony. Just a caveat... the double pointed pic on the Lantern Moon website makes me think they are their "ebony" wood though, since their rosewood sample is much lighter than the ebony sample (LM rosewood is lighter than the Colonial Rosewoods, which had me doubting in the first place! but meanwhile, back on the farm...)

Also, the Susanne's pictured are the glove size (10cm/4").

Holz & Stein and Lantern Moon US 1 - 1.5 (2.25mm - 2.75mm)


HS1
Lantern Moon US 1 (2.25) left, Holz & Stein US 1.5 (2.5mm) right. Ebony double pointed needles

HS1shaft
Lantern Moon US 1 (2.25) left, Holz & Stein US 1.5 (2.5mm) right. Ebony double pointed needles

HS1tip
Top to bottom: Addi US 1.5 (2.5mm). Lantern Moon US 1 (2.25), Holz & Stein US 1.5 (2.5mm).

Holz & Stein, Lantern Moon and Susanne's US 2 - 2.5 (2.75mm - 3.0mm)

HS2
Lantern Moon US 2 (2.75mm) top, Holz & Stein US 2.5 (3.0mm) bottom, ebony double pointed needles

HS2shaft
Holz & Stein US 2.5 (3.0mm) left, Lantern Moon US 2 (2.75mm) right, ebony double pointed needles.

HS2tip
Top to bottom: Addi US 2.5 (3.0mm), Lantern Moon US 2 (2.75mm), Holz & Stein US 2.5 (3.0mm), Susanne's US 2.5 (3.0mm) ebony double pointed needles

Holz & Stein versus Susanne's ebony

I've read Clara's review on Knitter's Review that says that Holz & Steins are rebranded as Susanne's needles (currently distributed by Classic Elite Yarns), but I'm not sure its true, for little differences...

The joins of the circular needles are different (pic of Susanne's joins from Yarn Barn of Kansas):

HSjoins
Holz & Stein circular and jumper knitting needle joins

SUZ-CIRSM-EB
Susanne's circular joins

The Susanne's joins are similar to the new Lantern Moon "Destiny" circulars, in having a brass or metal cap on the end from which the nylon cord extends (some complaints about the LM Destiny circular joins here)... where the Holz and Stein needles have the cord attached directly from the base of the wood. I haven't tried the Holz & Stein circulars yet to talk about the joins... all of my circular knitting happens on Addis so its a high bar to meet.

The tips are different, not a huge difference but the H&S are definitely a longer taper than the snubbish Susanne's, while the Susanne's look a tiny bit pointier:

SLMtips
Comparison of Susanne's and Holz & Stein tips, top Susanne's ebony (Classic Elite)-- bottom Holz & Stein. Green pencil, Crayola.

The stamp on the needle is also different: the Susanne's needle size is stamped into the wood in gold (above), and you can feel where the size is actually stamped into the wood, making a small indentation. On the other hand, the Holz & Stein's needle size (as well as a mark saying "Holz & Stein," the Susanne's only has the metric sizing) is painted on and not stamped in. At first I thought I could "feel" the H&S lettering stamped in when I ran my fingers over the wood, but I realized that the Holz & Stein paint had actually worn off of all 4 needles when I finished my current Pomatomus sock I used them for and there was no indentation on the needle at all, just smooth wood.

Also, the "sock" sized double pointed needles are different sizes; Holz & Steins are 18cm (approx. 7"), where the Susanne's are 8" long. I prefer the 7" size for socks, that's just me though.

The wood is the same, both use "reclaimed" or remaindered woods from the manufacture of musical instruments. Both are very "solid" feeling woods, with no snags or grains of wood interrupting the yarn movement-- I know nothing about wood but from the look and action of both I'd say they were both made from high quality wood, comaprable with one another. If I were pressed, I'd say the Susanne's is a tiny bit more matte feeling-- more grainyness to the wood, not quite as slick as the H&S, but neither is sealed or coated as far as I can tell... I think this is a difference in the needle manufacture, not the wood itself (but again, just a layman's guess).

I like the H&S better because I prefer less grip on the yarn (I've not graduated to colorwork yet) when I knit socks. I don't have a preference for needle tips, but the pics above should give you a good idea of the difference. I also don't think I'd like the 8" sock length.

Holz & Stein versus Lantern Moon

browntoblackebony
top, Lantern Moon, middle & bottom, Holz & Stein ebony dpns

I don't care for the Lantern Moons as much as I do for EITHER the H&S or the Susanne's. When I bought them (locally), I tried to check each set for the "best" needles and still, bringing them home and using them, I found small burrs or snags in the LM wood that would catch on my yarn. Since these are small diameter needles for sock/fingering weight yarns, the impact on the yarn may have been more noticeable than if I were using a heavier needle/yarn. The snags and inconvenience really bothered me (esp. since these were the most expensive needle purchase I'd ever made, and had the snags happening right off of the card).

I *know* I could have returned them, but I prefer to soldier on and complain to yall :)

The wood is definitely different from that of the H&S or the Susanne's. The wood is dark brown and obviously grained where the wood in the H&S and the Susanne's is mainly black. The pic above does show a H&S needle that is dark brown with a black grain (center middle) rather than flat black-- I don't mind the color (admittedly prefer the black-black though), but the wood the LM needles are made of does feel flimsier than either the H&S or S needles do.

I went and weighed them using my handydandy Soehnle Myra scale that I love, wondering if it is a weight/heft thing (one of the reviews that got me interested in the H&S said they have a "heft" to them that others don't...)

sets of 5:
Lantern Moon US 1 (2.25mm) -- 4gm
Holz & Stein US 1.5 (2.5mm) -- 6gm
Lantern Moon US 2 (2.75mm) -- 6gm
Holz und Stein US 2.5 (3.0mm) -- 8gm

There's a difference but not really a marked one across a set of 5. The H&S do feel "stronger" in my hands though; my Lantern Moons all are bowed/bent/curved in some way after knitting one sock (my left leaning Cloverleaf), and the H&S aren't after knitting one Pomatomus. When I roll the needles on the tabletop (ever do this @ the pool hall? I always did as a kid though I have no skills at all... my dad was a hustler though, back in the day...) the LMs rolled all wonky and off center where the H&S didn't at all. I also didn't have any problems or fear in the texture work of the Pomatomus sock, but I could feel the LMs bend in my hands just from regular stockinette use.

Admittedly to this point I've mainly used metal dpns for double pointed needles, but I was very cognizant of the needles and not wanting to break them (did I mention the LMs were expensive??!) :)

The Lantern Moons are also "sealed" or coated with a wax or something, not polish but a varnish of some sort. I don't like this, I found the varnish inconsistent on the needles and would start and stop the slide of the yarn. The more I used it the less it happened (wearing it off on the yarn and my hands, I'm sure), but to me and comparing them to the H&S and the S needles, I didn't like the coat. It also made me think that the wood must be of a lower caliber to need to be sealed, and even through the seal I had the problem with snags on the needle.

I like the H&S and the Susanne's much more than the Lantern Moons. I think the Susanne's may even be less expensive than the LMs (my LYS doesn't stock the sock sizes so I'm not sure), or at least comparable. However, the LMs come in "US" sock sizing: 2.25mm & 2.75mm (US 1 & 2), where both the Holz & Steins and the Susanne's are "metric" sizing (made in Germany) -- so they're US 1.5 & US 2.5 (2.5mm & 3.0mm) respectively. Sometimes that .5mm .25mm can make a big difference in gauge, so the LMs have a place here and I will continue to use them... though I wish I could find H&S or S in "US" sock sizing!

How to tell if your Holz und Steins are really ebony inside...

HSbroken

This was totally my fault. But it still sucked. :)

(Really want to know? I took mini me on the BART yesterday, set him on the seat, put the sock down on the seat, turned to sit down and he'd already done his "happy we're on the train" dance all over my sock with his tiny feet clad in tiny Converse. It was only one, but oy. They're not indestructible! At least they come in sets of 5, and I was also able to knit with the long end til I got home... desperate times/long train ride calls for desperate measures!)

Buying Holz & Steins

Part of me thinks that Holz & Steins are being rebranded here by Classic Elite because of the difficulty one encounters when trying to buy them! I know of one US seller, Catherine Knits, who sells them under the name "Noble Needles." Her website isn't real time though, not sure of her stock on these.

As USA buyers, you *used* to be able to buy them from Germany, but the 2 vendors I knew of both no longer would sell them to me... one told me that the "lady from Holz & Stein" stopped selling to shops and wasn't stocking them anymore, and the other told me that she was not able to sell them to US customers any more. I think the latter was more to the truth :)

As for mine, mine arrived in my hot little hands as a friend passed serendipitously thru Deutchland and knew of my obsession for knitting :)

To be honest, the Susanne's double pointed needles are definitely comparable to the Holz & Steins, in terms of wood quality and weight, in my opinion (bearing in mind I've only used the glove length of the Susanne's!). They are also easily found, my LYS (Article Pract in Oakland) stocks the circs and the glove length dpns, and told me they'd order the sock length if I wanted. Much easier than trying to track down the H&S'!

Good luck!

edit, for reader comments:

July 21, 2006:
Anne from KnitSpot (the one who does all of those fantastic shawls!!) writes...

"i love all my susanne's needles; some i've had for over 10 years. i have promised myself that this year i would add to my collection month by month.


"i knit almost ALL my shawls on them! be aware that the circulars over size 7 have MUCH more blunt tips. i stick to sizes 7 and under myself
they are a little "stickier" when they are new, but if you rub them with a bit of waxed paer and a dry scrap of old t-shirt, they become quite slick. after using them for one project, they get a real nice patina!"

September 18, 2006
Catherine (from Catherine Knits!) writes:


Hi, if you want to know more about Holz and Stein a/k/a Noble Needles, you may feel free to call or write. They are not sold off to Susanne's as someone wrote on your blog. I didn't name them "Noble Needles" either, but that was what they were sold as before people started calling them Holz and Stein. They are one and the same knitting needle from the same maker in Germany. There have been so many speculations on H&S needles. We sell a lot and we stock a lot of them if and when they make it to the USA. Our customers either call us or email their phone # to us and we are happy to call them back for credit card info. I juat thought I should clarify this, since I have been reading some not too accurate comments from several people. Once you have knitted with one of these needles, you will want more. There is nothing in the world like them! Thanks for listening to my comments. Enjoy knitting! Catherine

33 comments:

Alyson said...

Bless you....would you believe I *almost* bought some Susanne's today because I, too, was reading that Knitter's Review article? Now I'm determined to track down some H&S needles. I love a challenge.

(I'm also inclined to agree that Knitter's Review must be off in its estimation that Susanne's and H&S are the same, since Catherine's shop to which you like sells both under their own separate headings.)

PBnJ said...

Wow. I best this post was a lot of work to prepare! Thanks for the review! :D

Jennifer said...

What an intensive review! Thank you!

trek said...

Wow - comprehensive post!

rose said...

Wow...If I ever want to try using dpns, I 'll know who to talk to. Thanks for putting together this review

lexa said...

Awesome review! I only have good old faithful metal dpns. We pretty much only stock Aero and some Susan Bates bamboo dpns at the store where I work. I'd like to hit a shmancier yarn shop sometime and check out some "quality" dpns!

mf said...

you make me want those H&S needles more and more but no where can I find them!!urgh! Thanks for posting all your research!

Anonymous said...

A big wow! from me too, thanks for the great info. Terry

anne said...

thank you for all this information!

i love all my susanne's needles; some i've had for over 10 years. i have promised myself that this year i would add to my collection month by month.

i knit almost ALL my shawls on them! be aware that the circulars over size 7 have MUCH more blunt tips. i stick to sizes 7 and under myself
they are a little "stickier when they are new, but if you rub them with a bit of waxed paer and a dry scrap of old t-shirt, they become quite slick. after using them for one project, they get a real nice patina!

for DPNs i still like the metal gray inox best, but i use woods sometimes to take advantage of the size differences you talked about.

thanks again

Elspeth said...

My kids love the train too -- did you take advantage of the free days lately because of our heatwave? We also have many sizes of kid Converse - so cute!

Becky said...

Great info. Too bad about the broken needle. I get really attached to mine.

Rhonda said...

Wow, intensive review! I use bamboo dpn ... Crystal Palace but my favorite for socks are 7" Clover Takumi bamboo. They're the only ones I've ever used for socks ... but I bet I'd love Suzanne's.

beckyboo said...

I'll have to check out your LYS next time I am down that way. I am up in Sonoma County so not too far. :)

Iraida said...

Never tried any of these but I do want to try knitpicks' option needles

Lorette said...

Great review! I had a friend in Germany order some H&S for me a few years ago and ship them to me. I checked Catherine Knits recently and she emailed me back that the Nobles weren't in stock, and were sort of erratic in their availability. I'm glad to read your opinion of the LM circs. I probably won't fork over the money for them after reading this.

Rachel said...

Great review! Thanks!

Karen said...

Wow. This must have taken forever to write up!

While I had heard of H&S needles before, I didn't really know much about them. Now I am intrigued and want some. Hmm Thanks? ;)

Anonymous said...

H & S are made in Germany in batches by a very small company. The company can't keep up with the demand and so the needles are released in 'fits and starts'.Suzanne's are from a different source. Honest!
Ebony is a very dense, brittle wood. That's why a piece of ebony weight alot for its volume. I have rather painfull hands and so the ebony needles don't have enough give for me. I used rosewood. As for whether or not the wood in question is ebony or not, I can only guess that ebony, like any other product form nature can vary from area to area.Different rainy seasons ,different soil conditions, etc.

susan said...

I find it very hard to believe that Holz & Stein needles are the same as Susanne's. I own both and they're like night and day. The H&S are far superior.

Catherine said...

Hi, if you want to know more about Holz and Stein a/k/a Noble Needles, you may feel free to call or write. They are not sold off to Susanne's as someone wrote on your blog. I didn't name them "Noble Needles" either, but that was what they were sold as before people started calling them Holz and Stein. They are one and the same knitting needle from the same maker in Germany. There have been so many speculations on H&S needles. We sell a lot and we stock a lot of them if and when they make it to the USA. Our customers either call us or email their phone # to us and we are happy to call them back for credit card info. I juat thought I should clarify this, since I have been reading some not too accurate comments from several people. Once you have knitted with one of these needles, you will want more. There is nothing in the world like them! Thanks for listening to my comments. Enjoy knitting! Catherine

projektleiterin said...

They have a homepage - www.holz-und-stein.de - where you can order their products, at least if you are a German customer. Not sure how if they sell directly to US customers though.

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Thanks for the hint of where to get H & S in the States - yes, I live in Ireland, and so should be able to get them easily from Germany but lately haven't had any luck contacting the lady who DID sell them.

By the way, the absolute leaders with no possible contesters, in circular needles (so for larger gauges than socks) are undoubtedly Colonial Rosewood. They have the most ingenious bump just by the join of cable to wood which totally eliminates drag. Yes, you need a second mortgage to buy them, but they are the best investment you'll ever make.

Anonymous said...

I've been using LM size 0 double points which actually measure as 00. They are breaking on me. I've used Crystal Palace bamboo 0's for years without breakage. The LM do not compare favorably with the Susanne, or what I now know, thanks to you, as Holz & Stein --- one circular needle I bought in Germany years ago is my favorite needle of all time! No more Lantern Moon for me.

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SweaterFreak said...

I just wanted to add more about Suzanne. I got 2 pairs of circs from WEBS and both had the same issue - the brass connector was loose! on all 4 tips! I tried to glue it with superglue but ended up ruining the needles. Off to the garbage they went, which is too bad because I liked knitting with them. The other pair I left as is, I can still knit with it - it just bothers me that the brass piece is loose. Also, the cords had these white marks inside them and look like they would crack. All in all, I wouldn't buy Suzanne again. Since LM circs has a terrible join, this leaves me with HS, will see how these rank.

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