Monday, January 31, 2005

Curiosity: the Boye KnitMaster

Most knitters know about the Boye Needlemaster interchangeable kit:



... as well as the Denise interchangeable kit:



Last year I found a set of Boye KnitMaster interchangeable needles at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop:




There isn't much info online about the KnitMaster so I don't know when these kits were manufactured. (You'll mainly find ebay hits if you google Boye Knitmaster.)

The KnitMaster looks like a cross between the Boye Needlemaster and the Denise interchangeable needles. All the parts are plastic except for the round red rubber gripper. Another similarity to the Denise kit is the size range, the Knitmaster also has 5 - 15, the Needlemaster has sizes 2 - 15. This can be blamed on the thick cord, which is the same reason Denise can't offer a size below 5.

Attaching the cord to the needle requires inserting the needle into the cord rather than the other way around and then screwing it in. The join is smooth and the needle fits inside the cord securely but I wonder if Boye had a problem with the white plastic cords splitting at the join?



I saw this on the google hit results page: "The other set was the Boye KnitMaster. The latter set I actually was able to break the screw-in portion of. Boye replaced the broken element graciously." The link leads to an error message so I can't say for sure what her problem was or when it happened. I suspect the screw-like part on the needle snapped off and who knows if Boye still has replacement parts handy.

There's a fine ridge along some of the needles from the molding process but those can be filed down. The plastic case has not aged well at all, it is yellowed and very brittle.

Should you buy this kit? I wouldn't pay more than $5 for it but I'm cheap and not sure about the durability of the joins. The Yarn Tree price tag shows the KnitMaster cost $29.98 new, I paid $3.00 at the thrift shop. Google found proof that someone still uses her KnitMaster, Kathen posted a photo in her blog of a WIP on the blue needles.

Does anyone know when these kits were made and how well they hold up with regular use?

8 comments:

Kathen said...

Hi Kristi, I don't remember exactly when I got my Knitmaster Kit, but I am pretty sure I would have ordered it from Mary Maxim about 20-25 years ago. (I used to love knitting bulky sweaters, especially in-the-round with fair-isle yokes. The Knitmaster was really nice for those.) Mine was put away for about 15 years, in a nice dark box in a dry basement, so my case is in pretty good shape, but I can see the writing on the wall, and have been thinking about sewing a case to put the case in...

I saw a set of Denise needles on another blog, (Knitlet) and they looked so very much like the Boye Knitmaster that I went searching for them on Google (it took me a very long time :o) ). Seems the Boye Knitmaster with the screw-in connections was the original, then it got improved to the push-turn-and-click connections, then it went out of production, then the "Denise" family bought it from the original inventors.(At least, this is how I remember my search results. I think I got all my info from the Denise needle website.)

I have never had a problem with my connections coming apart while in use (touch wood!) and my cables have not gotten brittle, which I was afraid of happening. BUT my cables have a threaded metal socket pressed into the end which accepts the needles. You need the little red rubber dot to hold onto the metal bit, which will turn in the cable otherwise, when you are screwing or unscrewing the needles. I couldn't see any in your pictures, I wonder if the previous owner(s) removed them? I can't imagine the connections would be strong without them...

(Touch wood again!) I have always been afraid of stripping the thread off of the needles, but that hasn't happened yet, either.

In conclusion to this long-winded comment, I only got the Knitmaster because I was too cheap to get the pretty Needlemaster Kit. Is that Needlemaster Kit yours? How does it work? I always thought it would be way better than the Knitmaster, but I am only presuming this 'cause it cost over twice as much!

Kathen

Anonymous said...

On the Denise website, it talks about how they originally designed a system for Boye (I'm sure those are the ones) and then thought they could do better so they made the Denise. Hope that helps! - Christine, www.bigpinkcookie.com

Anonymous said...

I have been using my Boye KnitMaster kit for about 25 years. It was made in the good old USA. I use it for everything. Good buy you made there! Have fun with 'em.

M.G. said...

I just bought one of these sets and I love it! One interesting thing though is my cables have metal caps over where they screw onto the needle. I think this looks nicer and it makes the join very smooth. You can see photos of my set on my blog, Knit in Peace.

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lbigler@surewest.net said...

I have had the KnitMaster set for at least 25 years and am looking for replacement parts now, I broke 3 of the needles screw in posts and now have 3 ends of the cord clogged with the pieces. I have used them for a very long time and love them. I would like to replace the pieces I broke rather than buy a new set. I have never seen them in thrift stores so good on you for finding them. Does Boye still have replacement parts?