A machine shop in Wisconsin is retooling its business to include high-end aluminum knitting needles. The needles will feature polished steel caps (no circs then, I guess) and anodized finishes, and be made entirely in the U.S. with a price point that appears to be something like 3 or 4 times the typical cost for similar needles.
Reading between the lines, the cost of the product is the consequence of keeping the manufacturing in the U.S., rather than exporting the labour to another country where the cost is cheaper and environmental standards aren’t so strict:
As it turned out, the manufacturing process was the bigger challenge, even for the owner of a job shop.
For example, the jewel tones she wanted for the needles couldn’t be applied in Wisconsin, because the state’s environmental laws forbid it. So she found a shop just over the border in Illinois that could do it.
Oh. Uh… good for Illinois. I don’t know much about aluminum, and despite its accessibility I’m probably not trying it at home anytime soon. The Aluminum Anodizers Council states that anodizing is environmentally friendly, explaining that it is used on cookware. That’s not my definition of environmentally friendly, but then the Council’s FAQ goes on to say that it is not “difficult” for anodizers to comply with state and federal environmental regulations. Assuming this is the case, then either it’s about the waste from anodizing in colour, the Wisconsin source for anodizing doesn’t want to handle these orders for some reason, or it’s not difficult to comply with Illinois state requirements because they’re too lax. I have no idea.
I started out wondering about the competition in this market (both Boye and Knit Stix are definitely cheaper and are also coloured anodized aluminum, although it’s unclear to me where they’re made)… but then I looked at the photographs of the needles. Although I use circs nearly exclusively, I almost want a pair of the stiletto points to hurt people with. At that price point, though, I’d probably just spend more and get something forged just for me.
I think the opportunity for anodized aluminum knitting accessories is in needles coloured to match iPods. And in small, vaguely iPod-shaped cases for carrying coordinating stitch markers, yarn needles, and a little pair of snips.