Tag Archives | Amanda Talbert

Clover Takumi Bamboo 9" Circular Knitting Needles

Reported by Amanda Talbert
I have covered many different crafts for Craft Critique, but at heart I am a knitter. Last summer at CHA I was given the opportunity to meet the lovely people at the Clover booth. They showed me, and even let me take home, something very exciting. It’s their Takumi Bamboo Circular Knitting Needle in a 9″ length.

For the readers who don’t know, circular knitting needles are used to knit in-the-round, for things like socks, sleeves, collars, anything that needs to be knit in a seamless cylinder. There are several methods for knitting in-the-round for small diameter knits like socks and sleeves; double pointed needles (also called DPNs), the Magic Loop, two circular needles worked together. Until I tried Clover’s 9″ circular I thought those were the only options.

I was very excited to try this circular needle because I have never been very good at knitting with DPNs (double pointed needles). I always experience laddering at my needle transition points, and when I tighten up to fix it, I get spots that are too tight and hard to deal with. I’ve tried knitting socks in the other methods as well but never taken to it. This extremely short circular needle solves all of my problems.

I knit a pair of yoga socks for my dancing daughter and was amazed at how quickly I could work in-the-round with this circular needle. I used the US2-sized needle with sock weight merino wool yarn and it took me 3 days of light work to get this sock made for my 10 year old’s foot. Her ankles aren’t very big around so I wasn’t sure if the circular needle would work. When working in-the-round on one circular needle I had to worry that I would have to stretch the knit out too much to get it to go all the way around the needle. Even when working in a tightly pulled in 1×1 ribbing the 9″ circular needle was small enough to give me a great knit fabric.

The next worry, after deciding that the circular needle was indeed small enough to give me what I wanted, was the fear that it would be too hard to use at such a small size. I shouldn’t have worried. The needle was very easy to hold in my hand and use. I didn’t have any problems with my hands or fingers cramping. The small needle and the flow of working in the round made for a very fast knit that was easy and carefree.

Clover’s Takumi Bamboo needles are known for their smooth wood finish, and these small needles were no different. The bamboo was smooth and warm in my hands and didn’t give me a single snag. The smoothness of the bamboo did not ruin the slight grip of using wood needles rather than metal. I like that grip, it helps me keep my stitches on the needle and not in my lap.

The join, or the area where the plastic cable is connected to the wooden needle tips, is a worry for many knitters. I dislike having to fight with a circular needle that snags my yarn as it moves over the join. Even worse than a needle that snags is a needle that falls apart halfway through a project. This needle didn’t do that.

These 9″ circular needles come in 9 sizes, from US0 to US8.


  • Smooth needles with a sturdy join
  • Small circumference for use in knitting socks and sleeves
  • Easily transportable projects


  • Can be hard to find in stores
  • At $14.50 MSRP it would take a lot of money to buy as many of these needles as I want
  • Don’t come in US00 or US000 sizes (most likely because they are wooden and wouldn’t hold up to use)

I loved knitting with these needles and can hardly wait to cast on another project. Do you have any suggestions for what I should knit next?

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Book Review: Amigurumi Two!

Reported by Amanda Talbert

I’m a knitter. If you are, live with, or know a knitter, you understand that means that I have a huge closet full of yarn. My favorite way to use up the little odds and ends of all of that yarn is to crochet amigurumi. According to Wikipedia, amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures.

When my 8 year-old daughter saw the cover of Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli at the book store, she made me buy it on the spot. It took her 3 minutes of book perusal to determine that she needed me to make her one of everything in the book. I asked her to start by picking the thing she liked the most. It had to be the rabbit.

Dexter anyone… anyone??

All of the small animals in the book start with the same pattern called “little toys” and then are made into specific animals through the addition of small details like paws ears or tails. I found the pattern for the little toys to be very detailed and easy to follow and when I forgot how to form a stitch or two I turned to the back of the book and had a look at the General Guidelines section. The illustrations for the basic how-tos are wonderful but the photos of all the cute little creatures are even better.

There are patterns for amigurumi tools, birthday cakes, even a full amigurumi tea set. I can hardly wait to start on an amiguruni mushroom. As with most of the crochet books I have read, this book doesn’t give detailed instructions on how to assemble the pieces once you have crocheted them. I don’t find this to be much of a problem.

Most of the projects require yarn, a crochet hook, fiber fill, thread or embroidery floss for their little mouths, and toy eyes. The book has patterns that would make great gifts for adults, kids, and babies. Now that I own the second in the series of amigurumi books by Ana Paula Rimoli I will have to look into buying the first. I have a feeling it will be worth it!

Are you an amigurumi guru? Have a book suggestion? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Vendor Sporlight: Sakura

Reported by Amanda Talbert

I got different products from Sakura than the other reporters did. You’ve seen here, and probably even used at home, the fabulous Gelly Roll pens. We’ve reported about the Souffle pens and the glue pen. Now it’s time for some micron pens and travel paint.

I’ll start with the Sakura Pigma Sensei pens. These pens are designed for drawing Manga, and I have seen them used this way by some amazing Manga illustrators. Here is what comes with this set:

  • 0.3 mm ultra-fine tip
  • 0.4 mm durable plastic tip
  • 0.6 mm bullet fiber tip
  • 1.0 bold fiber tip
  • 0.7mm fixed sleeve, cushion point mechanical pencil
  • Sakura pencil on paper eraser

The pens are all Sakura’s trusted rich black ink. I found it gave me a very consistent line and fill that was a deep true black. When I am drawing or writing with black ink, I don’t want it to look gray or brown.

I really enjoyed the crisp and clean lines put down by these pens. I also found the drawing experience to be smooth and jump free. No spaces in my lines that I didn’t want. My only complaint is that these pens do cause a light amount of pilling on the paper. This drawing was done on smooth bristol paper which I find to be the most resistant to pilling but my pens were still picking up fuzz and pills from the paper. Also, I’d love to get a brush pen with this set for pen pressure line control.

Next I’d like to talk about the Koi Watercolor Picket Field Sketch Box. This is a travel-sized kit of watercolors meant to be used in a field kit for art on the go.

It comes with 12 half-pans of paint, a water brush, a sponge for cleaning the tip of your brush when changing colors, and a sectioned lid for color mixing.

The water brush also comes with a cap for the lower section so you can load water in advance and still carry it in two parts for fitting into the kit. A tip for using the kit from someone who always carries a water color kit with her: Carry a paper towel along for thorough cleaning of your brush and for drying off your pans at the end of use (you don’t want mold to grow on them between uses). I also leave excess mixed colors to dry in the lid, they can be used again later by wetting, just like the pans.

I used both the Pigma Sensei and the Koi Watercolors on this little ATC. The most important thing to point out is that the Pigma Sensei pens didn’t feather or smear on my watercolor paper, and they didn’t have any problem at all standing up to the water when painted over. This is one of the reasons I love Sakura pens. The paint in the half-pans is rich and the colors are true. The fine point on the water brush is very good for fine detail, but if you want any full area washes you will want to do that with a different brush.

The other two pen sets I received were used together on one project. The Sakura Sepia set comes with 4 pens in varying point types. I love the brush tip for sketching. All the things people love about Sakura micron pens can also be found in their Sepia set. Rich solid color that goes onto the paper smooth and waterproof. I also received the new Sakura Micron fine line pens in the 8 color set.

My sketching for this image was done with the Sepia set and then pen pressure control with the brush tip was perfect. I could sketch with this pen all day. I love sepia for drawing people. I used the colored Micron pens for all of the fill in on this image and the first image in this post. I love the micron pens. The only changes I would make, I’d love them to come in brush tip as well, and I wish this set had a yellow.

All in all, I already loved Sakura, and now I love them more. I can think of endless uses for drawing, labeling, and journaling with these pens. The watercolor kit will go in my travel bag and stay there. Have you tried any of the Sakura products we have used? Let us know what you think.

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