I reported on the bargain bamboo needles from the Stanwood company, available on Amazon.com. The straight needles and the DPNs were fine, though a little polish would make them better. Pleased with these needles, I ordered a set of 24 inch circulars, 14 pairs for $25. Here they are:
Pleased? Not so much.
Why? Cheap, lousy joins. As it turns out, the cables are hollow silicon tubes and the bamboo points have been jammed into them. While the join is somewhat smoothed out on the larger sizes, take a look at the smallest size:
You can see why it would drive any knitter nuts to work with these. The clumsy join is visibly raised and would catch on the yarn loops like crazy. Run your fingers over these and the join feels rough.
Nope, most definitely not pleased with these. They're going right back for a refund.
On the other hand, the Yarn Ball Winder that I ordered at the same time delivered a decent bargain. It's plastic, and perhaps not the most solidly-constructed ball winder I've seen, it's in the mid-range for quality. I'm only winding the occasional skein, not running a yarn shop, so for me it should be fine.
Here it is just out of the box, set up with my tabletop swift, ready to wind a skein of 450 yards of sock yarn:
It's a big skein, so that should be a bit of a challenge. I wasn't looking forward to hand-winding it, and that's why I finally decided to get a ball winder. The end of the yarn goes through the metal coil and in the grooves at the top of the winder, and away we go, except, oops, I didn't pull the metal wire arm out firmly enough and it fell over:
Ah hah, it just takes a little more muscle to pull it firmly into position. Off and running again and voila, though 450 yards is quite a load for this little ball winder, it managed the whole thing:
And here's what it looks like when it's all done: