Circular Knitting Needles: My Guide To Circular Needles

By Jodie Morgan

| Updated:

Circular knitting needles are versatile! Use them for many projects. I use fixed ones with bamboo or stainless steel tips. Circulars make complicated knitting much easier! In this post, I share everything about these top knitting needles.

Circular Knitting Needles

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My Quick Recommendations

Note: These aren’t good kids knitting needles.

I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on April 8, 2024.

Table Of Contents

Best Fixed Circular Knitting Needles

1 ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular Needles

I adore these, I’ve used them for my sock projects and shawls. They work with many different knitting patterns. My Fairy Maiden socks were so easy to knit with these. Cables, colorwork and lace designs suit these lovely tools.

The red nylon covered multi-strand stainless steel cable is fabulous to work with. In my experience, it’s flexible and doesn’t kink. They’re an excellent investment.

Needles are made of stainless steel. The bright red cable is flexible, multi-strand, nylon-coated steel cable. Speed knitters love the slick surface. Circular Knitting Needle Sizes:

  • 16″ (40 cm) in US000 (1.5mm) – US15 (10mm)
  • 24″ (60 cm) in US000 (1.5mm) – US19 (15mm)
  • 32″ (80 cm) in US000 (1.5mm) – US19 (15mm)
  • 40″ (100 cm) in US000 (1.5mm) – US19 (15mm)
  • 47″ (120 cm) in US0 (2mm) – US19 (15mm)
  • 60″ (150 cm) in US0 (2mm) – US19 (15mm)

The inch measurement is taken from tip to tip so includes the pair of needles and the cord in between. So for example a 16 inch circular is the length of the pair of tips plus the cable between them.

Useful for medium-sized projects, baby blankets, cardigans knitted flat or in the round, the body of a sweater or a lace knitting project.

Pros

  • The stainless steel is smooth and lightweight
  • Works with many yarns including wool and cotton
  • Excellent durability
  • The join of cable to needle is quite seamless so it doesn’t snag stitches.
  • The tips are sharp which works wonders when doing complicated multi stitches

Cons

  • I find the size etched on the metal surface difficult to see without a bright light.

Want something smaller for patterns like socks or sleeves? See the Chiaogoo mini interchangeable needles collection. These are perfect if you love using with 9 inch circulars.

This company shop is known for superior functionality and quality. Their products are favorites with many knitters. The extra long version is excellent for afghans and blankets as the majority of the stitches are held on the cable.

2 Chiaogoo Bamboo

The surface is grippy but smooth on these bamboo needles, and the cable is excellent. It has no memory, so it straightens with no need for steam or boiling water.

Bamboo circulars have smooth joins and pliable, clear nylon cords. They have a nickel-plated copper join.

Sizes 3 (3.25 mm) and larger are crimped to guarantee no separation, and they swivel! Sizes 0 (2 mm) – 2.5 (3 mm) have the same excellent cable as RED circulars and TWIST cords.

The size is laser imprinted on each needle tip.

  • 9″, 12″ = US0 (2mm) – US9 (5.5mm)
  • 16″, 24″, 32″, 40″ = US0 (2mm) – 15 (10mm)

Useful for sweaters, hats, mittens, gloves, socks, baby clothes, baby hats, home décor items, and blankets.

Pros

  • Smooth surface with the right amount of grip
  • Wood needles are lightweight and warm in the hand
  • Price is moderate and so worth it for the quality

3 addi Turbo Rocket Lace Knitting Needles

The needle metal tips are coated with white bronze. Producing bronze-coated needles uses less electricity and water and is more environmentally friendly.

Lace knitters love their versatility and speed. The new finish of addi needles is perfect for those allergic to nickel! Flexible plastic cord. Options for addi:

  • 8″ Cord Size – 0/2 mm – 5/3.75 mm
  • 12″ Cord Size – 0/2 mm – 9/5.5 mm
  • 16″, 20″ Cord Size – 000/1.5 mm – 17/12 mm
  • 24″, 32″, 40″, 47″, 60″ Cord – 000/1.5 mm – 19/15 mm

Useful for baby clothes, cardigans, and blankets.

Pros

  • Smooth metal surface
  • Stitches glide
  • Great points
  • Suitable for fine yarn weights

These are a little higher in price when compared to Chiaogoo.

4 Clover Takumi Bamboo Circulars

This is the answer to your needs if you dislike metal. I’ve used these knitting needles. They’re easy to use! They have a smooth surface. The plastic cord is flexible, and the join doesn’t snag on the yarn. There’s a little memory retention.

Beginners enjoy the sticking ability of these wooden needles. The stitches don’t slide off. The Clover points are blunter, with less precision than a metal needle in lace knitting.

These work with heavier yarn weights and novelty yarns. A good budget option. Needles made from smooth Japanese Bamboo. The cord is flexible plastic.

Clover needles are made in Japan, so they have metric sizing for the length and diameter of the needle. Clover offers these cable length and circular sizes:

  • 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, 100cm, 120cm – (2mm – 10mm)

Useful for children’s sweaters, smaller sized women’s pullovers, and baby blankets.

Pros

  • Smooth surface
  • Warm to the touch
  • Bamboo is cheaper in price compared with metal versions

5 Hiya Hiya Circulars

Needles are hollow, high-quality stainless steel. The cords are flexible plastic. (Like Chiaogoo.) Useful for children’s and smaller sized women’s sweaters, and baby blankets, circular sock projects, and making a hat.

Steel Circulars

  • 9″, 12′ – US 000 – 9
  • 11″ – US 000 – 0
  • 16″, 20″, 24″, 32″, 40″, 47″, 60″ – US 000 – 15

Sharps Circulars

  • 9″ – US 0 – 9
  • 16″ – US 0 – 19
  • 24″ – US 0 – 19
  • 32″ – US 0 – 19
  • 40″ – US 0 – 19

Pros

  • Yarn doesn’t snag on the join
  • Sharp points
  • Smooth surface

This brand is a often a higher price than Chiaogoo.

6 Knitter’s Pride Dreamz Fixed Needles

Needles are of dense laminated birch and black plastic cords. Knitter Pride Dreamz Circular Needles lengths

  • 10″ – US 0 – 8
  • 16″ – US 0 – 17
  • 24″ – US 0 – 19
  • 32″ – US 0 – 19
  • 40″ – US 0 – 19
  • 47″ – US 0 – 19

Useful For Cowls, hats, the body of baby garments knitted in the round, mittens, and sweaters. The needle’s product material wood, is smooth and works well with all sorts of yarn.

Pros

  • Gorgeous colors in the wood
  • Light in the hand

7 Knitter’s Pride Karbonz

Needles are high-tech carbon fiber with tips in nickel and electroplated brass. Ideal for all yarns and for every project. The needles have high tensile strength, are lightweight with flexibility.

Unlike other metal needles, they’re warm to touch & gentle in hand. A smooth join ensures stitch glide and no snagging. Love working on metal? These are good circular option. In the United Kingdom, these are KnitPro.

Sizes

  • 16″ – US 0 (2mm) – US 10 (6mm)
  • 24″ – US 0 (2mm) – US 11 (8mm)
  • 32″ – US 0 (2mm) – US 11 (8mm)
  • 40″ – US 1.5 (2.5mm) – US 11 (8mm)

Useful for lace projects, garments, hats, and socks.

Pros

  • Lightweight and speedy
  • Metal tips make getting into stitches easier

(Note: these aren’t for people with Nickel sensitivities.)

8 Knit Picks Nickel Plated Circulars

The smallest needle sizes and shortest circular needle lengths don’t accommodate the interchangeable screw. (A feature of the Knit Picks Options needles.)

They offer durable fixed circular needles in the sizes and lengths not available as interchangeable circular needles.

Materials: These nickel-plated needles have a slick, glass-like surface so your stitches move freely. The hollow brass tube is lightweight for hours of comfortable knitting.

Sizes for Knit Picks Needles

  • 16″ needles – US sizes 0 – 11
  • 16″ needles are 3-3/8″ long
  • 24″, 32″, 40″, 47″ – US sizes 0 – 3
  • Needles are 5-1/8″ long

Useful for mittens, hats, socks, shawls, sweaters, and larger knitted pieces.

Pros

  • Small needle sizes
  • Durable, flexible cable

9 Knit Picks Caspian Circulars

Caspian fixed circulars have strong, smooth layers of laminated birch and sharp tapered tips. The burnished surface of Caspian delivers the right amount of grip to manage slippery yarns.

These wood circular needles warm in your hands for hours of comfortable knitting.

  • 16″ needles are in US sizes 0 – 11
  • Needles are 3-3/8″ long
  • 24″, 32″, 40″, and 47″ needles are in US sizes 0 – 3
  • Needles are 5-1/8″ long

Useful for hats, socks, mittens, toys, sweaters, and larger knitted pieces. Want an interchangeable set of these needles? See my Knit Picks interchangeable knitting needles review.

Pros

  • The surface has a good amount of grip
  • Works well with slippery yarns
  • Comfortable to use
  • Great selection of sizes
  • Knit Picks Customer Service is excellent

Recommended Circular Knit Needle Comparison Chart

Our
Best Selections

Best For
Most People

Our Luxury
Choice

Our Best
Budget Pick

Made By

Chiaogoo

Addi

Knit Picks

Product

Red Lace

Rocket Turbo

Caspian

Made In

China

Germany

USA

Sizes

US 000-15

US 000-19

US 0-11

Tip Color

Silver

Silver

Multi

Tip Type

Metal

Metal

Wood

Tip Material

Stainless Steel

White Bronze

Birch

Tip Point

Sharp

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Rounded

Tip Taper

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Cord

Nylon/Steel

Plastic

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Cord Color

Red

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Flexibility

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Smoothness

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Returns

30 Days

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Warranty

30 Days

Lifetime

1 Year

Overall

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FAQS About Circular Knitting Needles

What Are Circular Needles?

The two needle points are attached by plastic or nylon cord. The tips are often shorter than straights or double pointed needles. Materials used in these needles: bamboo, wood, metal, carbon fiber, and acrylic. (2)

Brands like Boye, Susan Bates and Pony offer Aluminum versions.

Bamboo circular needles are great because they’re easy to knit with. Bamboo needles are a great choice for beginner knitters. Wood and Bamboo have more grip. Metal and carbon fiber have slippery surfaces. Here are a few reasons they’re good to use.

Two kinds of tips: pointed for lace knitting, and rounded for bulky projects. Do challenging knits, like socks or hats. Also make clothing and bags with no seams! (1)

Their primary purpose is to knit in the round, so they’re perfect for sweaters, cowls, sleeves, mittens, and hats. Another great thing is the cable holds the project’s weight, letting it rest in your knitting project in your lap.

For projects needing double-pointed needles, use them with the “Magic Loop.” I’ve knitted socks like this. There are different ways you use these needles.

When you’re knitting, the cord holds the bulk of your project. It prevents strain on your hands, wrists and shoulders. Beneficial when you’re creating things like sweaters. A great idea is to use two circular needles for a sweater.

They make traveling easier, no losing the needle down the seat. Can you use straight needles instead of circular? Yes, though they’re handy to have in your toolbox.

Circular knitting needles are used for a variety of items. Smaller sized lengths like 16″ are perfect for hats and smaller circumference creations. You can also knit flat by knitting back and forth. They’re wonderful for creating blankets.

@MoKnits on Instagram
Knitting hats made simple using circular needles. Photo credit: Thanks to @MoKnits on Instagram. (Shared with permission.)

Choosing The Right Knitting Needle Items

There are two types, fixed and interchangeable. Fixed have a set needle and cord size. Interchangeables have different needle sizes in pairs, can be swapped, and come organized in a handy bag.

Things to consider:

  • Ensure the joins are smooth. Roughness catches your stitches and tears your yarn
  • Cords should be strong and flexible. (If they become too coiled, soak in warm water. This relaxes the coils.)
  • Doing lace knitting? Choose sharp tips to make it easier to do the intricate designs and decreases
  • Choose the right size and cord length for the project

A little tip for storage of your circular needles. When you start to collect a few, place them in a sturdy zippered case or fabric roll organizer.

Handy Tip About Fixing Kinks In Your Cords

Heat water to almost boiling. Pour the water into a bowl – enough to cover your needles.

Use a chopstick to ensure the needles are covered (don’t burn yourself). Leave them for about 30-40 seconds. More time maybe required if they aren’t relaxing. Once they relax, remove them from the hot water and lay them flat on a towel. They should be kink-free.

Anna @aktricot on Instagram
The beginning of cowl. Make knitting in the round a breeze! – Photo credit: Anna @aktricot on Instagram (Shared with permission.)

Interchangeable Knitting Needles Sets

The needles attach to many cord lengths. Ensure the cord length is smaller than the diameter of the knitted tube. If not, the stitches stretch, and you lose tension.

The price upfront may seem high, but if you purchase each, the cost is greater. Find a circular needle set with many needles and cable sizes.

Things to consider:

  • Needles should stay fastened to the cord. It shouldn’t unscrew or come loose
  • Sets with connectors are useful if you knit items like blankets.

Sounds good? Read my article on the best interchangeable knitting needles. I feature popular brands of these types of knitting tools.

@knotty.medley on Instagram
Circular needles are used for chunky knits. Thanks to @knotty.medley on Instagram.

Guide To The Set Of Cord Lengths Available

Cords are available lengths for different usage. Measurements include the needle tips (9″ – 40″.) Choose the right one to suit project. All stitches need to sit on the cord without being stretched or bunched together. Not sure which length to use? The pattern you’re using tells you.

@yankeeknitterdesigns on Instagram
Beautiful cable pattern hats by designer Melinda Goodfellow. Photo credit: Thanks to @yankeeknitterdesigns on Instagram (Shared with permission.)

Circular needles sizes are sometimes confusing. They have 2 numbers. For example, Size 10 24″ needles. The needles are US Size 10 and 24″ is the measurement from tip to tip, including the needle lengths and the cable together.

To get the full measurement, you measure the whole thing. What lengths are available? Here’s a list.

  • 9″ – Super-narrow items, socks, baby hats, sleeves, clothing for dolls. Anything shorter isn’t made, as they’d be impossible to use
  • 16″ – Small projects, baby clothes, booties, collars, and sleeves for adult sweaters. Also for knitting in the round and hats for kids and adults.
  • 24″ – Vests, cardigans, and other garments.
  • 29″ – Medium projects, baby blankets or cardigans, knitted flat or in the round. Also, for the body of a sweater.
  • 36″ – Heavy knitted flat things, like a shawl. Or small circumference creations knitted with magic loop.
  • 40″ and Over – Great fixed circular needles for socks or sleeves two at a time. Also blankets and afghans. These are the biggest cord lengths you’ll find.

Does length of circular needle matter? Yes. Use a too small cord, and the stitches bunch up, lose tension, and become twisted. Use a too big cord, and stitches stretch and become loose.

@TheKnitologist on Instagram
Fun colors and pattern for this chunky hat. Photo credit: Thanks to @TheKnitologist on Instagram (Shared with permission.)

What Circular Needle Should I Use?

Check the finished length of the project you’re making. It would be best if you used needles that are slightly smaller than that measurement so that all of the stitches can fit around them.

How Long Should They Be? 

Patterns show the size and length of circular needles to use. The length depends on the diameter of the tube you’re knitting in the round.

Don’t use a needle longer than the diameter of the tube of knitting. You also don’t want them to be too short. Knitting flat? It needs to be long enough to hold the stitches. This is a guide for the length and the projects best suited to them:

  • 9″ or 12″ (22 or 30cm) are best for small tubes like socks, mittens, or cuffs
  • 40cm (16″) are useful for sleeves, hats, and bodies of children’s jumpers
  • 60 or 80cm (24 or 32″) work well for the bodies of sweaters for adults.
  • 100, 120, 140, or 150cm (40, 47, 55, 60″) are for knitting large projects in the flat

Knitters love 9 inch versions for socks, but they have shorter needle points.  You may not find them comfortable to knit with, depending on the size of your hands. 

Perhaps it’s better to use a set of double-pointed needles, other techniques like using 2 circular needles, or magic loop.

Can You Knit Anything On These? 

Pretty much everything can be knit on circular needles. Knit in the round and also flat pieces, so for this type of needle the choices are endless. Knit hats, scarves, shawls, cowls, beanies, mittens, socks, sweaters, blankets, and home décor items.

Can They Be Too Long?

If you’re making a project in the round, they can be too long. Don’t choose needles longer than the creation you’re making.

When Were Circulars Invented?

In 1918, the first US patent for circulars was issued. Antique to be sure! You can find circular vintage ones on Etsy.

Which Brand Has The Most Flexible Cord?

Chiaogoo Red Lace are flexible and don’t kink.

How To Fix When Broken

Here’s a helpful video tutorial.

How To Measure Length Of Circular Knitting Needle

Here’s an excellent tutorial by Nancy from NobleKnits on Youtube. Nancy has authored helpful books.

How To Make A DIY Version

Clara Parkes from Knitters Review has a great tutorial on how to make your own DIY circular needles.

What Is The Best Circular Needle?

Of all the products we researched, reviewed and tested, we liked the Chiaogoo Red Lace the best. The product is made to high-quality standards with durable materials.

It’s super smooth, slick, and perfect for lightning fast speed knitting. Given those qualities, we believe so many reviews from happy knitters can’t be wrong.

They’re great for delicate, intricate designs and thin yarns.

Conclusion

Circular knitting needles are my favorite! They create great results. As always I highly recommend checking your gauge as compared to the pattern gauge. Knitting a swatch gives you this information and makes the world of difference to the end result. Leave a note in the comments below if you have questions.

References

  1. Radcliffe, Margaret. Circular knitting workshop: essential techniques to master knitting in the round. Storey Publishing, LLC, 2012.
  2. Patmore, Frederica, and Vikki Haffenden. The Knitting Book. Penguin, 2011.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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Comments

  1. Which circular needles have the “thinnest” cords? I want to use a circular needle as a life line on my next project.

    Reply
    • Hi Peg. Thin cords on circular knitting needles are those on small diameter needle tips. The larger the needle size, the thicker the cord tends to be. I am fond of my Chiaogoo 2.25mm (US1) stainless steel Red Lace circular needles that have a thin cord. I’ll do some investigation and get back to you. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
  2. Hello I would like to learn how to know sizes of circular needle in a pattern as they confuse me, they state lions brand circular needles 10.5(6.5mm) 29 inch(75cm) can you tell me how to read them thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Hi Christina. Sure thing. The 10.5 is the US size of the needle diameter which is 6.5mm (millimeters) in diameter. The 29 inches refers to the length from needle tip to needle tip and that includes the cord in between. So if you stretched out your circular needle so that it was in a straight line, it would measure 29 inches. Does that make sense? If you have any further questions, please get in touch. Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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