Clover Bamboo Knitting Needles - Review About Clover
Estimated reading time: 19 minutes
I have tried many different needles over the years; different materials, shapes, and brands… Not to mention Straight, DPN, Circular, and interchangeable needles… and so far clover bamboo knitting needles are the ones I keep coming back to. Because of this I thought a review about clover would be a perfect place to begin, for my first blog review!
Clover was established in Japan in 1925, by Toshio Okada when he was only 26.
The name Clover came about because apparently when Mr. Okada was a young man he used to study in the park and would pick clovers from the grass to bookmark his textbook pages (what a neat idea!)… From these little pressed clovers in textbooks the name Clover was born!
Their head office, distribution center, and manufacturing plant are all located in Osaka Japan. A new distribution branch was opened in 1983 in Los Angeles California, to serve us in the North American markets. However the main base and operation remains in Japan.
Takumi (which is the name used for their bamboo line), is a Japanese word meaning, ‘artisan’ or ‘skilled’.
Company’s Environmental Impact:
I have not been able to find any information about Clover’s environmental practices. However when it comes to materials, bamboo is a wonderful and very environmentally responsible choice! Metals and woods are both decent alternatives as well, however they both often require coating or plating which make them less recyclable, and also often less durable with long-term use.
With an innovative Research/Development team who work hard to create high quality and unique products. They have many intriguing tools in their product line which is great… however, unfortunately many (if not most) of their other products, seem to be made of plastic which is unfortunate… Luckily in the Knitting needle and Crochet hook departments they are rocking the natural and biodegradable fibers! 🙂
Material & Sustainability:
Bamboo is flexible strong, feels ‘warm’ to hold, and requires very little processing to turn it into beautiful knitting needles.
Plus when your needles eventually do wear out after years of use, bamboo is biodegradable and some bamboo items can even be composted!
The benefit to bamboo is that it grows abundantly with minimal soil inputs when grown in it’s native environment. Bamboo can also grow extremely fast: in some species individual stalks can grow up to 36″ in a single 24 hour period!
Why bamboo makes great needles:
The process of turning a stalk of bamboo into a set of clover bamboo knitting needles is not a complex one. Because they know which pieces are the prime bits to use, and how best to utilize them… Then all that’s left is to shape them to the correct diameter and tip profile, before sanding/polishing.
Because of its long and tough fiber strands and natural flexibility, bamboo is incredibly resistant to breaking. Because of this it can be used to make even 2.0mm (US size 0) needles and still be quite durable.
Is all bamboo created equal? The answer is no, absolutely not! Often the cheaper bamboo needles are made with lower quality bamboo which is less dense and more prone to splintering, breaking, and wearing. Cheaper bamboo also often requires coatings and other treatment to make the needles more usable…
Clovers bamboo knitting needles are made from only bamboo grown in cold area’s of Japan which don’t get too much snow. The reason for this is, the cold weather creates bamboo with a more compact fiber structure which is good, but heavy snow fall will cause bamboo to grow in a bent pattern due to the weight. The bamboo used to make Takumi needles is only cut during the winter because this is when the moisture content in the stalks is lowest and the grain structure is most compact.
One of the best things about these un-coated bamboo needles is that they get better with use. They are generally smooth when you buy them of course, but they will get smoother and more silky the more you use them.
If you ask 5 knitters what are the best materials/brands/shapes for knitting needles… you will likely get 5 different opinions for what is best and why…
So when it comes to the best option for you, we each need to do a little research and then try different types until you find your “goldilocks” needle style :). (you can check out my other blog post on Needle Materials, to see some of the main characteristics of each to help narrow down your search).
One of the biggest contentions for knitters about bamboo is that the stitches do slide freely, but there is a slight ‘grip’. Which means that your stitches won’t so easily slip out of your work, however some very fast knitters find this slows them down.
Due to this feature, bamboo makes the perfect beginner needle to help keep your stitches in place while learning. And personally I find I’d rather knit slightly slower and save myself the annoyance of dropped stitches…
*I am however an average speed knitter, so it makes sense that I wouldn’t mind the bamboo being slightly slower :).
Wear & Durability:
Bamboo knitting needles do wear with years of use just like any material. The way bamboo needles seem to wear is you will tend to get little divots and pits mostly near the tips (from contact with the other needle)… Theoretically you could buff these marks out with some very fine sandpaper and a little elbow grease, but I have yet to need to resort to this.
I don’t find the wear effects my work at all, and in my opinion I would take bamboo wear over the chipping of coatings on wood, and the oxidation of metals any day!
Some of my clover bamboo knitting needles are more than twenty years old at this point. And while I do have a few which are starting to show some slight signs of wear. They are still just as nice to use as the day I bought them!.. in fact I like them better as they age, and so far I have yet to throw out a single pair!
Clover bamboo knitting needles have no coating and are simply cut and ground to shape, then polished/sanded. This creates the wonderful smooth texture they have without the need for any coatings.
Because of the tight grain structure of the high quality bamboo they use, coatings simply aren’t required. In my opinion this creates by far the nicest texture! *many wood and lower quality bamboo needles have coatings on them which not only eventually wear off… but they create a barrier between the users hand and the natural material, which I don’t prefer.
The nice thing about un-coated bamboo is that it gets better with age! When there is no coating to wear off or chip, the bamboo will continue to be buffed by the yarn and smoothed by the oils in our hands. Causing the needles to continue getting nicer and more silky smooth the more we use them!
Each manufacturer profiles their needles a little differently… and just like the different material and coating types, each knitter will tend to prefer a specific tip profile.
I personally feel that the gentle slightly rounded profile of clovers bamboo knitting needles makes them ideal… Plus it helps to keep me from splitting stitches… However some people prefer sharper tips or different tapers, it just depends on your knitting style and personal taste.
Clover Bamboo Knitting Needle Types:
These come in two different lengths:
9″ long, available in Sizes: 2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm, 12.75mm, 15.00mm
14″ long, available in sizes: 2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm
- Great for all of your standard knitting projects, simple well made single point needles.
Double Pointed Needles (DPN):
These come in two different lengths:
5″ long, available in sizes: 2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm
7″ long, available in sizes: 2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm
- DPN’s are used primarily for ‘knitting in the round’. Knitting hats, socks, gloves, as well as anytime you need a spare needle for picking up or holding stitches briefly. *I always carry a few DPN’s in my knitting case for emergencies!
These have permanently attached cords at specific lengths. *measured from the tip of one needle to the tip of the other needle.
Available in lengths:
9″ long available sizes:
2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm
16″, 24″, 29″, and 36″ long available sizes:
2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm
48″ long, available in sizes:
2.00mm, 2.25mm, 2.75mm, 3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm
- Fixed Circular needles are used for knitting continuously ‘in the round’. I also tend to use circular needles for many (if not most) of my other projects. *this is simply because the needles are shorter & the cord between them makes a great spot to store stitches so they won’t accidentally drop off when I take my work on the go!
Circular Interchangeable Needles:
These are more expensive, but give much more flexibility then the fixed circular options… with these you can buy the tips and the cords separately, so that instead of needing multiple sets of needles with one in each length, you can simply buy the tip sizes you need and the various cord lengths and then mix and match as required.
Clover does offer an interchangeable needles circular kit, which comes with all 5 cords and 12 tip sizes plus a case… However I personally don’t like the pho-leather case (I would much rather buy or make my own out of a more natural material). Plus because most people will never use certain sizes, I recommend just picking the sizes you know you will need and adding to it as you need more.
*I can usually offer good discounts when you buy more than 5 items from my craft section www.2beegreen.ca. and feel free to email me with any questions!
- Same as the fixed circulars, because these needles are short and have the cord connecting them. Not only a great choice for circular knitting, but they are also nice for straight knitting as well because you can store your stitches on the cord. *these are my personal favorite style*
Interchangeable Needles – Circular [Needle Tips (Pairs)]:
The length of the needle tips are about 3.5″ each.
Available in 12 sizes:
3.25mm, 3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm
Interchangeable Needles – Circular [Cords]:
5 lengths available:
16″, 24″, 29″, 36″, 48″
*note: the cord itself isn’t the length given. The cord plus the needle tips point to point will equal the length given… (ie. If you buy a set of tips[3.5″ each], plus a 16″ cord the total length of the set when put together will equal 16″ tip to tip)
(*Actual approx cord lengths not including the tips: 16″ cord = 9″, 24″ cord = 17″, 29″ cord = 22″, 36″ cord = 29″, 48″ cord = 41″)
Interchangeable Needles – Circular [Stoppers]:
These little screw on fittings come in pairs and connect to the end of the cords in place of the needles. This is perfect if you want to stop working on a project for a while to use the needle tips elsewhere without having to worry about transferring stitches.
- Over the years I have picked up a couple extra cords in the sizes I use most. Which means that using these stoppers I can swap my needle tips around as required. Even with multiple projects on the go at one time!
Interchangeable Needles – Circular [Connectors]:
These little connectors attach two cords together. This is in case the ones you have are not long enough or you need a different configuration. (*ie if you use one to connect two of the 16″/(9″) cords… then you end up with a cord length of 18″ and an overall length tip to tip of 25″.)
Pro’s & Con’s for Clover Bamboo Knitting Needles:
- I love the feel of these needles, the un-coated bamboo just feels nice to hold. Bamboo has a warmth to it that metal never could, plus it makes a nice quiet shuffle/tap sound when knitting!
- All of the fittings on clovers needles are high quality and well made. Their circular needles have a swivel function which prevents stress as well as easing arm tension. And all of the connections in the interchangeable needles have little rubber gaskets to help keep them in place.
- bamboo is a natural and sustainable fiber which is fast growing and when your needles reach the end of their life it is biodegradable so you are not left with so much garbage!
Non-Slip & Light Weight:
- These bamboo needles don’t slip out of work as easily as metal needles. This is especially helpful for beginners, but many of us prefer them our entire knitting careers!
Better with Age:
- Due to the nature of the high quality bamboo, these needles tend to get nicer the more you use them!
- Clover needles are very strong, resilient, and can withstand quite a bit of abuse. And assuming you take care of them they can last for decades!
- Clover does not use coatings on their needles, so there is nothing to flake or ware off!
- I love the smooth tapered tips with a slight rounded nose.
Mid level cost:
- These needles are not the cheapest ones out there, however they are also nowhere near the most expensive. They have a great balance between quality and cost. And their needles can last a long time!
‘Break in’ Period:
- Due to them being raw bamboo they can feel slightly more textured at first. Plus the stamped text can be a little rough for a day or two… Luckily this seems to subside quickly, and after a few days of knitting they glide perfectly as they should! … *To speed up this “break in period” you can: take the needle in your thumb and forefinger (or wrap a piece of thick yarn around it) and rub up and down the length of the needle. This just buffs the needle for a perfect polish!
Wear & Dimple Patterns:
- All needles will wear to some degree and with bamboo the wear patterns don’t often affect the ability to knit… The wear pattern on bamboo tends to show as small marks and divots (especially near the tips) from repetitive contact with the other needle. This is not usually noticeable from a knitting perspective unless they get really pitted, and it takes a long time to get there :).
Don’t have Shorts:
- One day I hope that they come out with half length interchangeable needles and short cords. Something similar to their 9″ fixed circular line, but with cords for 9″, 11″, and 13″. This would be great for gloves, socks, and small hats (because often what you want to make in a round isn’t exactly 9″ :)).
- At least they do have their little 9″ fixed circulars and the DPN’s so this is just a wish of mine!
No Information about Environmental Impact considerations from Clover:
- I prefer to support companies who are making an effort to be kind to our planet whenever I can. Things like using recycled plastics when plastic is required, cutting down on waste, supporting sustainability, etc would all be nice to see. Unfortunately Clover doesn’t have any information about whether or not they employ any of these practices, so I have to assume they likely don’t which is too bad.
Who else sells Bamboo needles?
Other Bamboo brands I have used:
- Established in 1916 kinki Amibari has been creating bamboo needles even longer than Clover! Their needles are very nice and high quality as well, and so far they are my second choice for Bamboo needles.
- I also love that they have interchangeable needles shorts and interchangeables in sizes right down to 2.00mm (US Size 0)… to accomplish this they do need to have two different connector sizes so this does mean that for your smaller needle sizes you will need to have one set of cords, and for your larger needle sizes you will need another…
- Why do I rank these as my #2 choice? I can’t honestly say, other than I like the feel of the clover needles a little better, but that very likely could be because I have been using clover for so many years that I have just gotten set in my ways :)… Honestly I think the quality of these needles compared to Clover is pretty much on par, and I would say either one would be a great choice depending on what you are looking for.
- I actually haven’t tried their knitting needles, however I do have a couple of their bamboo crochet hooks and they are quite nice to use. *although they appear to have a thin coating of some kind… which is not ideal in my books, but I don’t mind the feel of it as much as some other thicker coatings. Due to the coatings we will have to see how they age.
- They feel nice to touch and seem to have a nice tight grain structure similar to Clover and Kinki Amibari (which makes sense seeing as all 3 use high quality Japanese bamboo!).
- One thing I don’t like about these needles is that the sizing stamp is only a surface marking (and it’s on top of the coating) This means that it wears off very easily, so you either need to keep re-marking them with a marker or use a size gauge to know which is which.
- These I would rate as OK … they are nothing special, and they often seem to have little imperfections on them, plus they are coated… however they are some of the cheapest bamboo needles that I have come across, so if your deciding factor is price, these might be a good starting point. *just know that you won’t get a true feel for how nice bamboo can be, until you try one of the higher quality brands… but I would still choose these over metal personally! :).
Others I haven’t tried:
- they seem to be well reviewed, however they used some kind of proprietary processing to create a smoother finish… I don’t personally trust that without knowing what the chemical makeup is, so they would not be my first choice unless I could find out what’s on them.
- These needles are made with bamboo and it sounds like they use some kind of a wax coating. This is likely a little better then other coatings, partly because when it wears it probably won’t flake which is good.
- They also have a “click” system with their interchangeable needles instead of the screw on system, which looks intriguing.
- The bamboo in these needles is apparently injected with resin to make them smoother and stronger.
- HiyaHiya are known for their sharp tapered tips, so if you like the extra point these might be for you. *I assume that may be why they are reinforcing the bamboo with resin. to make the tips stronger and able to handle their signature sharp tips?
- Made in China, but these needles themselves look quite nice, and they offer smaller interchangeable needles which I appreciate.
- These are a unique style of circular knitting needles which are bent at the center so that you can knit things like socks and gloves in the round with only three needles. *instead of the five generally required for working with regular DPN’s.
- Made in Germany with Japanese bamboo these needles look interesting, however I haven’t had a chance to try them so I can’t really comment on their usability. (from looking at reviews it looks quite mixed… some people absolutely love them, others can’t stand ’em!).
(I know there are more bamboo needle brands out there, but these are the ones that I have come across).
My final thoughts about Clover Bamboo Knitting Needles:
Clover makes beautiful and comfortable bamboo needles that are un-coated, and made with extremely high quality bamboo.
I haven’t tried every bamboo brand out there, but my personal favorite so far is absolutely Clover (even if Kinki Amibari is a close second and has the bonus of their short interchangeable needles).
The type and brand of needle each person will prefer is as individual as the type of tea or coffee you prefer. We all have our favorites, and it all just comes down to the individual. However in my opinion if you are looking for a place to start, Clover Bamboo needles are a good starting point for bamboo!
Need Help Choosing your Needles?
***if you are trying to figure out what needles would be best for you and still can’t decide, feel free to send me an email and I would be happy to answer any questions I can, and work with you to put together a tester kit at a discounted rate so that you can try multiple types and brands of needles to see what works best for you before you start outfitting your ultimate ‘knit kit’ 🙂 ). And check out my little store at www.2beegreen.ca***
Overall I feel that Clover needles are the nicest needles I have come across if you like bamboo, and they are sold at a reasonable price (although they cost more then some other brands they tend to last a very long time)!
I’m not about pushing my favorites on anyone else, I’m just putting my opinions out there so that you can make your own choice. And I am always happy to hear what you think so please feel free to comment below and share your views so that we have more than just my opinion on this topic! 🙂
Thanks for reading my review and I hope it has been helpful for you.