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Circular Knitting Needles – My Guide & Reviews – Updated Sep 2020

Circular knitting needles are the most versatile needles I’ve come across. You can use them for a range of projects. I use fixed ones with bamboo tips to do my knitting.

Circulars as, they’re fondly known, make tackling complicated knitting much easier! What’s not to love? Though they are hard to master at first.

In this post, I share all you need to know about Circular Knitting Needles.

Circular Needles A Guide

Table Of Contents

Knit Picks Fixed Circular Needles
Shop For Fixed Circular Knitting Needles at Knit Picks

Best Circular Knitting Needles

Here are some of my Top 10 picks and brands for the best circular knitting needles.

1. ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular Knitting Needles

I adore these circular knitting needles. I’ve used them for my sock projects and shawls. The red nylon covered multi-strand stainless steel cable is fabulous to work with. It is very flexible and doesn’t kink. They are an excellent investment.

ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular 32 inch (81cm) Stainless Steel Knitting Needle Size 3 (3.25mm)

Materials: Needles are made of stainless steel. The bright red is made of highly flexible, multi-strand, nylon-coated steel cable.

Needle Size US Three is pictured above.

Circular Knitting Needle Sizes Available:
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)

Pros

  • The red nylon multi-strand stainless steel cord is a dream to knit with.
  • The stainless steel is very smooth and lightweight.
  • Works with lots of different yarns

Useful For: Medium projects, baby blankets or cardigans, knitted flat or in the round. Also for the body of a sweater. A perfect choice for a lace project.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

2. ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular 16 inch (40cm)

Knitters love this length of needle because it is perfect for small circumference projects like hats for kids and adults, baby clothes, booties, collars and sleeves for adult sweaters.

ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular 16 inch (40cm) Stainless Steel Knitting Needle, Size 6 (4mm)

Materials: Needle are made of high-grade steel. The bright red is made of highly flexible, multi-strand, nylon-coated steel cable.

Needle Size US 6 pictured above

Length 16 inches – Available in sizes US000 (1.5mm) – US15 (10mm)

Pros

  • Perfect for smaller sized circumferences
  • The cord doesn’t kink and is memory free

Useful For: The brim portion of hats or the body of baby garments knitted in the round.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

3. Chiagoo Bamboo Circular Knitting Needles

ChiaoGoo Circular 40 inch (102cm) Bamboo Dark Patina Knitting Needle Size US 13 (9mm) 2040-13

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

Materials: Bamboo circulars have smooth joins and pliable, clear, nylon cables. 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) through 2.5 (3 mm) have the same excellent cable as their RED circulars and TWIST cables! Needle size is permanently laser imprinted on each needle tip.

Circular Knitting Needle Sizes Available:

9″ (23cm) in sizes US0 (2.0mm) – US9 (5.50mm)
12″ (30cm) in sizes US0 (2.0mm) – US9 (5.50mm)
16″ (40cm) in sizes US0 (2.0mm) – 15 (10.00mm)
24″ (60cm) in sizes US0 (2.0mm) – 15 (10.00mm)
32″ (80cm) in sizes US0 (2.0mm) – 15 (10.00mm)
40″ (100cm) in sizes US0 (2.0mm) – 15 (10.00mm)

Pros

  • Smooth surface with the right amount of grip
  • Lightweight and warm in the hand

Useful for: Sweaters, hats, mittens, gloves, socks, baby clothes, baby hats, home decor items, blankets.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

4. addi Knitting Needle Circular Turbo Rocket Lace

addi Knitting Needle Circular Turbo Rocket Lace 32 inch (80cm) Size US 05 (3.75mm)

Materials: The Needle Metal tips coated with white bronze. The process of producing bronze-coated needles uses less electricity and water and is more environmentally-friendly.

The new finish of addi needles is also the perfect sort of thing for those who are allergic to nickel! Flexible plastic cord.
Sizes available:

8″ Cord Size – Needle Size0/2.00 mm – 5/3.75 mm

12″ Cord Size – Needle Size0/2.00 mm – 9/5.50 mm

16″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 17/12.00 mm

20″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 17/12.00 mm

24″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 19/15.00 mm

32″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 19/15.00 mm

40″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 19/15.00 mm

47″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 19/15.00 mm

60″ Cord Size – Needle Size000/1.50 mm – 19/15.00 mm

Pros

  • Smooth metal surface
  • Stitches glide easily
  • Great points

Useful For: Baby clothes, cardigans, and blankets.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

5. Clover Takumi Bamboo Circulars

CLOVER Takumi Bamboo Circular 29-Inch Knitting Needles, Size 7

I’ve used these needles for a number of knitting projects and found them to be easy to use and they have a lovely smooth surface. The plastic cord is flexible and the join doesn’t snag on the yarn.

The Clover points are more blunt, which offers less precision than a metal needle in detail work such as lace knitting.

Materials: Needles made from smooth Japanese Bamboo. The cord is made from flexible plastic.

Clover needles are made in Japan so have metric sizing for both the length and diameter of the needle.

Lengths and sizes available:

40cm – (2.0mm – 10.0mm)
60cm – (2.0mm – 10.0mm)
80cm – (2.0mm – 10.0mm)
100cm – (2.0mm – 10.0mm)
120cm – (2.0mm – 10.0mm)

Pros

  • Smooth surface
  • Warm to the touch

Useful For: Children’s sweaters, smaller sized women’s pullovers, baby blankets.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

6. Hiya Hiya Circulars

HiyaHiya Circular 32 inch (81cm) Sharp Steel Knitting Needle Size US 6 (4mm)

Materials: Needles are hollow high-quality stainless steel. The cables are flexible plastic.

Available in the following:

Steel Circulars

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

Sharps Circulars

  • 9 inch – US 0 – 9
  • 16 inch – US 0 – 19
  • 24 inch – US 0 – 19
  • 32 inch – US 0 – 19
  • 40 inches – US 0 – 19

Pros

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

Useful for: Children’s and smaller sized women’s sweaters, baby blankets.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

7. Knitter’s Pride Dreamz Fixed Circular Needles

Knitter's Pride US 4/3.5mm Dreamz Fixed Circular Needles, 16 inch

Materials: Needles are of dense laminated birch and black plastic cords.

Sizes Available – a wide range of needle tip sizes available. The Dreamz Circular Needles are in lengths of 10″, 16″, 24″, 32″, 40″ and 47″

10″ has US 0 – 8

16″ has US 0 – 17

24″ has US 0 – 19

32″, 40″ and 47″ has US 0 – 19

Pros

  • Gorgeous colors in the wood
  • Light in the hand

Useful for: Cowls, hats, or the body of baby garments knitted in the round, mittens and sweaters.

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

8. Knitter’s Pride Karbonz

Knitter's Pride Karbonz Fixed Circulars

Needles made from High – Tech carbon fiber with tips in nickel electroplated brass.

Shiny, smooth brass tips come in perfect points, flawlessly tapered – Ideal for all types of yarns and for every project.

The needles have high tensile strength, are lightweight with lot of flexibility.

Unlike other metal needles, they are warm to touch & gentle in the hand.

A smooth join ensures easy stitch glide and no snagging your beloved yarns.

Sizes

16″ – US 0 (2.0mm) – US 10 (6.0mm)

24″ – US 0 (2.0mm) – US 11 (8.0mm)

32″ – US 0 (2.0mm) – US 11 (8.0mm)

40″ – US 1.5 (2.5mm) – US 11 (8.0mm)

Pros

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

Useful for: Lace knitting projects, garments, hats and socks

(Note these needles are not suitable for people with Nickel sensitivities)

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

9. Knit Picks Nickel Plated Circulars

Nikel plated fixed circular

The very smallest needle sizes and shortest circular needle lengths do not accommodate the interchangeable screw feature of the Knit Picks Options needles. For this reason, they offer these durable fixed circular needles in all the sizes and lengths that are not available as interchangeable circular needles.


Materials: These nickel-plated needles have a slick, glass-like surface that allows your stitches to move freely. At the same time the hollow brass tube is extremely lightweight for hours of comfortable knitting.

Lengths and Sizes:
16″ needles are available in US sizes 0 – 11. 16″ needles are 3-3/8″ long.

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

Pros

  • small needle sizes
  • durable
  • flexible cable

Useful For: All sorts of knitting, mittens, hats, socks, shawls, sweaters and larger knitted pieces.

10. Knit Picks Caspian Circulars

Knit Picks Capsian Circulars

Caspian fixed circulars have strong, smooth layers of laminated birch and sharp, gradually tapered tips. The burnished surface of Caspian delivers just the right amount of grip to easily manage slippery yarns while warming quickly in your hands for hours of comfortable knitting.

16″ needles are available in US sizes 0 – 11. 16″ Needles are 3-3/8″ long.

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

Pros

  • The surface has a good amount of grip
  • Works well with slippery yarns
  • Comfortable to use

Useful For: All sorts of knitting, hats, socks, mittens, toys, sweaters and larger knitted pieces.

Denise Circulars

Though these are still interchangeable and compatible with every other of its kind they make, these you can buy individually, and they act as excellent fixed circulars.

Features

  • Needle Sizes Available – US Size 0 – 15
  • Cord Lengths Available – 17″, 20″, 24″, 28″ and 38″
  • Needle Length – 4″ Long for US Size 5 – 10 ½, and 5″ Long for US Size 11 – 15
  • Made From – Plastic Resin

Pros

  • Smooth joins
  • Stitches glide along the needle easily
  • Compatible with all other circular needles they sell
  • Lightweight and easy to use

Cons

  • Sometimes the needle can catch or snag the yarn, but this is usually a defect in the manufacturing

For more details about the range of Denise Needles read my guide.

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices, and customer reviews on Amazon and Knit Picks.

What Are Circular Needles?

How are they different from straight or double-pointed needles? The two needle points attached by plastic or nylon cord.

Materials used in these needles are Bamboo, wood, metal, carbon fiber, and acrylic. 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, whereas metal and carbon fiber have slippery surfaces.

Here are a few reasons as to why they’re good to use.

Two kinds of tips – pointed for lace knitting and rounded for bulky projects.

You can do challenging knits, like socks and hats. You can also make clothing and bags without seams, much easier!

Another great thing about them is the cable holds all the project’s weight, letting it rest in your lap.

For projects that need double-pointed needles, you can use them with the “Magic Loop.” I’ve knitted socks like this, a handy technique!

There are different ways you can use these needles.

When you’re knitting, the cord holds the bulk of your project. It prevents strain on your hands and shoulders. Beneficial when you’re knitting things like sweaters.

They make knitting when 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 knitting toolbox.

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

Choosing The Best Circular Knitting Needles

There are two types, fixed circular knitting needles, and interchangeable circular knitting needles.

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 remember when choosing the best circular knitting needles:

  • Make sure the joins are smooth. Roughness can catch your stitches and tear your yarn.
  • Cords should be strong and flexible. (If the cables become too tightly coiled, soak in warm water. This will relax the coils.)
  • If you’re doing lace knitting, choose sharp tips to make it easier to do the intricate designs and decreases.
  • Make sure you choose the right size and cord length for the project you have in mind.

Handy Tip About Fixing Kinks In Your Cables

Heat some water to almost boiling. Pour the water into a bowl – enough to cover your needles. Use a chopstick or something similar to make sure the needles are entirely covered (don’t burn yourself).

Leave them for about 30-40 seconds, more if they aren’t relaxing. Once the cables relax, carefully remove them from the hot water and lay them flat on a towel. The cables should be kink-free.

The beginning of cowl. Circular knitting needles make knitting in the round a breeze! Photo credit: Anna @aktricot on Instagram (used with permission)

Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

If you knit a lot, you collect circular needles quickly! An interchangeable circular knitting needle set solves that.

The needles can attach to many cord lengths. Make sure the cord length of is smaller than the diameter of the tube you’re knitting. If not, the stitches will stretch, and you’ll lose your tension.

You can find a circular knitting needle set with many needles and cable sizes.

Things to remember when choosing Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles:

  • 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.

If this sounds good, you need to read my article on the best interchangeable knitting needles.

I feature some of the most popular brands of these types of knititng tools.

Circular needles can be used for chunky knits. Photo credit: Thanks to @knotty.medley on Instagram (used with permission)

Guide To Cord Lengths

Cords are available in several lengths, each for different usage. The circular knitting needle cables, including the needle tips, range from 9″ to over 40″. It’s essential to choose the right one.

All stitches need to sit on the cord without being stretched or bunched together. If you’re not sure which length to use, the pattern you’re knitting will tell you.

Circular needles sizes are confusing. They have 2 numbers. For example, Size 10 24″ needles.

This means the needles are size 10, and 24″ (24 inches) is the measurement from tip to tip, including the needle lengths and the cable together.

So to get the full measurement, you measure the whole thing.

What lengths do circular knitting needles come in? Here’s a list.

9″ – Useful For: Super-narrow items, socks, baby hats, sleeves, clothing for dolls. Anything shorter isn’t made, as they’d be virtually impossible to use.

16″ – Useful For: Small projects, baby clothes, booties, collars and sleeves for adult sweaters. Also for knitting in the round and hats for kids and adults.

24″ – Useful For: Vests, cardigans, and other garments.

29″ – Useful For: Medium projects, baby blankets or cardigans, knitted flat or in the round. Also for the body of a sweater.

36″ – Useful For: Heavy or large knitted flat things, like a shawl. Or small circumference creations knitted with magic loop.

40″ and Over – Useful For: 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.

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

How To Knit With Circular Knitting Needles

There are two knitting methods. Knitting in the round and knitting flat.

Knitting in the round is where the cast-on row is joined, and you keep going until you’ve finished.

Knitting flat using fixed circular needles is just like knitting on straights, you work back and forth. You create each piece and sew them together at the end.

Circular needles are designed for knitting in the round, but you can use both methods.

How do you knit on a circular needle?

Cast on your stitches, and distribute across the cord. The last stitch you cast on is the last one of the round. Make sure you place a stitch marker here. It keeps them even.

Shop Darn Good Yarn

If you twist them, the entire project becomes twisted. You have to undo your work and start again. No one wants that!

Knit a row until you reach the stitch marker. You’ve done your first round. Put the marker on the right needle and knit the next row. Continue and repeat.

Say your knitting requires double pointed needles. You can do the project using two sets.

To knit in the round with this method, cast on stitches needed on one set of circular needles and slip half to the second set of circular needles. Slide the stitches to the other ends of your needles and join them.

How to Knit on Circular Needles in 5 Easy Steps

Studio Knit has an enjoyable and quick video on how to Knit on Circular Needles for visual learners. With Kristen’s help, you’ll be creating your first project in no time!

How To Knit Flat With Circular Needles

Knitting flat is excellent when you’re working on massive projects. For example, blankets, throws, and afghans.

The cables hold the project bulk. No aching limbs after a long day of knitting!

This method is the same as when you knit on straights. No need to join the round, cast on, and knit. Work from the left to right needle as usual, and switch hands when you reach the end of the row.

Continue and repeat as many times as needed.

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

Knitting In The Round

With this method, you knit on the right side of the fabric at all times. You’ll need to change your basic stitches slightly for it to turn out correctly.

Most circular knitting is done in Stockinette Stitch. The way you do this is you knit every row normally. You don’t have to stop at the end of the row, you just keep knitting around and around.

That’s the only difference to when you knit on straights. It also means there is less sewing of seams required, than flat pieces that require sewing together.

For Garter Stitch, you knit one row, purl one row. For Reverse Stockinette, purl every row.

These are common stitches you’ll see in knitting in the round patterns.

Knitting in the Round for Beginners

Davina from Sheep & Stitch has an excellent tutorial about knitting in the round for beginners. Davina has a range of other video tutorials that are great for beginner knitters.

How To Use Circular Knitting Needles For A Blanket

Blankets are a massive labor of love. Large fixed circular knitting needles make it easier! It might be confusing, but once you learn, it’ll be a joy.

Holding the large number of stitches required for a blanket is made easier by using these needles.

Ryan from RJ Knits has a great video you can learn from.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Circular Knitting Needles Used For? 

Circular knitting needles are used for a wide variety of projects. Smaller sized lengths such as 16 inches are perfect for hats and smaller circumference projects. The tips of the knitting needles come in a variety of points. Sharp points are ideal for knitting lace and blunter points are perfect for bulky yarn. The beauty of knitting with circular needles is that the weight of many stitches is evenly distributed.

Their primary purpose is to knit in the round, think sweaters, cowls, sleeves, mittens, and hats. You can knit flat by knitting back and forth with circular knitting needles. These are wonderful for knitting blankets.

How Long Should Circular Knitting Needles Be? 

Often patterns will indicate the size and length of circular needles to use. The circular knitting needles’ length will depend on the diameter of the tube you are knitting when knitting in the round.

You cannot use a needle that is longer than the diameter of the tube of knitting. You also don’t want them to be too short, to hold the number of stitches when knitting in the round. If you are knitting flat the length is less critical – you only need to worry about it being long enough to hold all the stitches.

This is a rough guide for the length of circular knitting needles and the projects best suited to them:

  • 9 inches or 12 inches (22 or 30cm) are best for small tubes such as socks, mittens or cuffs. 

Some knitters love these small circular knitting needles but something to note is they have shorter than usual needle points.  You may not find them comfortable to knit with depending on the size of your hands. 

Perhaps it will better for you to use a set of double pointed needles, or other techniques such as using 2 circular needles or magic loop.

  • 40cm (16in) are useful for sleeves, hats and bodies of children’s jumpers.
  • 60 or 80cm (24 or 32in) work well for the bodies of sweaters for adults.
  • 100, 120, 140 or 150cm (40, 47, 55 or 60in) are usually used for knitting large projects in the flat.

Can You Knit Anything On Circular Needles? 

You can knit in the round and also flat pieces so the choices of projects are numerous. The choices are endless – knit hats, scarves, shawls, cowls,  beanies, mittens, socks, sweaters, blankets and home decor items. Pretty much everything can be knit on circular needles.

This concludes my guide to these fabulous needles. An essential tool for making knitting easier. Circular knitting needles are my favorite! They create great results.

Let me know what you plan to make with your purchase of these knitting needles down in the comments! I’d love to hear about your knitted goodness. 🙂

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m a real person :) ) Thanks for being here.

I created Knit Like Granny to help show 1,000,000 people the benefits of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

I love knitting and have met so many other fabulous knitters through this site. I enjoy learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn.

Please say hello!

6 thoughts on “Circular Knitting Needles – My Guide & Reviews – Updated Sep 2020”

    • Hi Marcie. Circular needles can be used to perform the same tasks as what you do with straight needles. You can knit flat pieces and work in rows. More commonly they are used for patterns that are worked in the round. This is makes knitting tubular items, such as sleeves, snoods and cowls without a seam super easy. Cheers Jodie 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi Debbie. Circular needles range enormously and can be as short as 8½in (22cm) or as long as 60in (150cm), however the most commonly used lengths are 16, 24, or 32in (40, 60 or 80cm)

      Reply

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