Choosing Knitting Needles is a challenge. Easily understand the size, many different materials, and types of knitting needles with my guide.
I share why it’s important to knit a swatch and test your gauge. 🙂
Table of Contents
- Diameter & Length
- Knitting Needle Sizes
- Knitting A Test Swatch
- Needle Materials Used
- Best Knitting Needles Brand
- Where To Buy Knitting Needles
- Storage Solutions
Diameter & Length Of Knitting Needles
Sizes used in a knitting project depend on
- The thickness of yarn
- Stitch used
- The project design
They come in varying diameters and lengths. The needle diameter determines the stitch sizes.
- Thicker needle – larger stitches, looser fabric
- Smaller one – tiny stitches, tigher material
The project determines the length.
- Large project – longer needle or cord
- Small, flat projects – any needle length
- Socks – short circular needle or double-pointed needles
- Straight needles – 10-16″ (25-40 cm)
- Circular needles – 12″ to 60″
If you have lots of stitches, you’ll need extra-long needles.
Different countries have different numbers/measures.
- Australia – metric sizes (millimeters) mm
- Canada – same as the UK
Everything you need to know about knitting needle size. Plus, a handy international conversion chart.
- Metric sizing
- US sizes
- UK sizes
- Japan sizing
The knitting needle isn’t labeled with the size? Get a Knitting Needle Gauge.
Knitting A Test Swatch
Every knitter has a different tension. (How tightly they knit.)
Knitting gauge – how many stitches per inch with a particular yarn and knitting needle. It’s essential to know yours.
How To Find Your Gauge?
Knit a test swatch in the chosen yarn and suggested needle size. Measure how many stitches per inch you knit. If yours matches the pattern, great!
Adjust up or down a needle size until your gauge matches the pattern if it doesn’t match. Need a tutorial? Read one by Davina at Sheep & Stitch here.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” ― Elizabeth Zimmermann.
Materials For Knitting Needles
Knitting needles are made from various materials. Read on for more.
Lightweight, but don’t slow you down much.
Most of the knitting I do is on quality bamboo circular needles. They’re the best knitting needles for knitting cotton dishcloths. They’re light in my hands.
- Excellent for beginners.
- A slight grip
- Knitted stitches don’t slide
- Great for slippery yarns.
- Sustainable materials
- Can catch the yarn
- Gets warm and sticky after lots of use
- Needles may not suit some projects
An ancient material similar to bamboo.
- Warm to the touch
- A bit of grip
- Slightly flexible
- Hard to find
Made from milk protein. They’re similar to plastic needles. They are gorgeous and come in tortoiseshell or pearly colors.
- Nice colors
- Smooth & lightweight
- Warm in the hands
- Slightly flexible
- Short and blunt
- Finding needles made from this is hard
- Limited availability
This high-tech material is super light with a non-slip surface. Popular with knitters using lace weight yarn or fine and silky yarns.
- Some don’t brass, and others are sensitive. These are a great alternative
- These items are expensive
- Hard to find
Yes, they exist! Usually made with Pyrex to make them more durable.
- Array of lovely colors and patterns
- Stitches don’t slide off accidentally
- Thes accessories are breakable
- Expensive prices
- A bit of grip
Many knitters prefer the slippery coating on metal needles. They’re smooth and fast. Makes a real difference for your fast knitting needs!
Here’s a selection of what they’re made from.
A pair of metal needles has the pointiest tips, like lace needles. Excellent for certain yarn weights and knitting socks.
Most gold knitting needles are metal, coated in a gold finish.
- Minimal friction
- Suit hairy and fibrous yarns
- Great for speed
- Excellent for the magic loop
- Not sutiable for learning to knit
- They click when knitting. Soothing to some, irritating to others.
- Avoid this knitting needle material if you’re someone with tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or Arthritis.
- Curface can corrode or get scratched over time.
Lightweight, smooth, and flexible. They’re warm in the hands after knitting.
There are two variations.
- Normal grey
- Plan on knitting with bulky yarn or using huge knitting needles? Choose these
- Many colors, good for encouraging young beginner knitters
- Subject to warping
- Not too durable
- Don’t last as long as some other materials
Quiet, smooth, but not slippery. They’re sometimes exotic woods and have carved ends or painted decorations.
Colorful knitting needles are almost always made of wood.
Types of wood.
- Warmer in your hand and lighter than metal needles
- Comfortable to use
- Catch and slow you down
- Blunter tips than others.
Types Of Knitting Needles
Here are some different knitting needles.
Straight Knitting Needles
The most common type of knitting needle. (Aka single pointed needles.) These needles come in a needle set of two. Great for your first project!
- 7″ (good for children)
Best for smaller projects like scarves, baby blankets, and wraps.
Use end caps (point protectors) over each needle tip when taking a rest from your knitting. This stops the stitches from falling off the needles.
Circular needles have two knitting needle tips.
- Approx 5″ long
- Connected by a flexible cord – nylon cords or plastic ones
- Cord lengths vary – 16″-50″
The circular tips come in
Your choice depends on your material style preference in straight needles. Although they’re designed for the knit in the round method, they also knit back and forth.
You rest the weight of the project in your lap. As a result, the knitting is lighter on your wrists. Hurrah for fewer pain problems!
Great for a variety of garments like a sweater. Sometimes they have lifeline holes for knitting things like lace projects.
Circulars are essential for knitting projects like shawls. Small circular 9-inch sock knitting needles are popular with knitters.
Double point needles (referred to as DPNs) are short needles with points at both ends. A double-pointed needle is commonly sold in sets of 4 or 5. Designed for knitting in the round.
Beginners may have a problem with using this, so practice some easier projects before attempting anything complicated.
Best for socks, gloves, baby hats, adult hat crowns, or seamless sleeves.
Interchangeable needle sets have short needle tips. These knitting tools combine to create circular sets of different lengths and sizes.
Interchangeables are assembled by
- Screwing pieces together.
- Snapping in place
- Using a small key
A set of interchangeable knitting needles seems expensive and high-end. Considered luxury needles, interchangeables make life much easier.
However, they’re cheaper than buying each size and length separately.
The tips are made from
- Durable plastic (Denise Interchangeables)
Size 50 Knitting needles come in straights and circular needles. Light and versatile – for scarves, big throws, blankets, or rugs.
Knitting with these takes practice. Not for people with wrist strain.
The square design of the needle shafts (the tips are still pointed) stops the needles from twisting as you knit.
Knitters experience less tiredness in their hands and wrists and knit more evenly. Many are wooden, but Knitter’s Pride uses metal.
Most have to go up a size to get their standard gauge. Test it before taking on a new project with a differently shaped version.
Hexagonal Knitting Needles
These look similar to a pencil. Indian Lake Artisans create beautiful wooden hexagonal-shaped needles.
- Multiple resting points for your fingers
- Relax your grip and still maintain control
- Stitch gauge remains the same
- Yarn rests on the outer ends of the hex shape
- Needle wood tip is sharp
Designed for comfort and easier knitting. Great for any technique.
These are excellent if you have hand pain/hand strain, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or want something to keep knitting for longer.
Some lovely handcrafted needles are often made of wood or bamboo. They have an heirloom quality and are made to last a number of years.
On knitting forums, experienced knitters recommend bulky yarn for beginning knitters. This type of yarn uses thicker needles.
Decide on the type of yarn and read the label. It tells you the best size needle.
Beginner knitting projects like a scarf have a suggested needle size. Gauge won’t matter so much. With complex patterns, start swatching.
Usually shorter in length than an average-sized needle and with blunter tips, these are specifically designed for small hands. They’re most commonly made of plastic but can be made of bamboo or wood too.
From as recently as the 1980s to as far back as the 1920s. A favorite of collectors and knitters who like lightweight needles.
Best Knitting Needles Brand
Here are some choices of knitting needle manufacturers.
- Addi – German company. Known for slick, fast aluminum and metal needles.
- Aero – Vintage aluminum needles from the 60s, 70s, & 80s. They last a lifetime
- Boye – Affordable needles great for beginner knitters.
- Brittany – Sustainable family-owned US business. Sells birch needles
- Bryspun – Designed for arthritis, hand strain, or carpal tunnel syndrome.
- ChiaoGoo – Chinese family-owned giant. Various needle types and materials
- Clover – Japanese company. Known for smooth bamboo needles
- Crystal Palace – Polished and cured bamboo from Japanese bamboo in Japan
- Deborah Norville – Manufactured by Premier Yarns, with smooth birch wood
- Denise – Small USA family business. Interchangeable plastic needles.
- Furls – Beautifully handcrafted wooden straight needles.
- Hiya Hiya – Known for their sharp metal needles
- Hobby Lobby – Stocks generic needles and some from dwell-known brands.
- KA (Kinki Amibari) – High-quality bamboo needles of the strongest bamboo
- Knit Picks – Their needles are made from laminated birch.
- Knitter’s Pride – KnitPro in Europe, they have various needle styles.
- Kollage – Square needles designed for comfort and ease of use.
- Inox – A subsidiary of Prym, these are made of smooth aluminum.
- Lantern Moon – Formerly manufactured luxury needles of rubberwood.
- Lion Brand Yarn – Family business in the USA. They haveplastic needles.
- Lykke – Handmade birch needles in Nepal by local craftspeople
- Neko – Curved DPNs, a unique take optimized for comfort.
- Pony – A company based in India produces various needles
- Prym – Specializes in ergonomic needles, comfortable and smooth plastic.
- Signature Needles – A family US business. Luxury colored aluminum needles.
- Susan Bates – Perfect for beginners, these are affordable and versatile.
- Tulip – Smooth needles of local bamboo, they’rre quality and well made.
Let me help you decide with my top recommendations.
Knitting needles need to stay organized. Otherwise, you’ll never find the one you want! Find solutions in my post knitting needle storage.
Specific products too, like –
Plenty of helpful knowledge about the best knitting needles.
Have any questions? Leave a comment.