Knitting Needle Buying Guide

Are you new to knitting? Maybe you've been wondering what the difference is between all the different knitting needles out there? We're here to help you with our Knitting Needle Buying Guide! This guide will walk you through converting between U.S. sizes and metric, the recommended needle size for different yarn weights to help you choose which size to buy, knitting needle materials, tips for selecting needles, and our recommendations for knitting needles and yarns for beginners.




RECOMMENDED NEEDLE SIZES FOR EACH YARN WEIGHT

Lace — US 000–1, 1.5–2.25mm (8+ sts per inch)
Fingering/Sock — US 1–3, 2.25–3.25mm (7–8 sts per inch)
Sport — US 3–5, 3.25–3.75mm (6–6.75 sts per inch)
DK — US 5–7, 3.75–4.5mm (5.25–6 sts per inch)
Worsted/Heavy Worsted — US 7–9, 4.5–5.5mm (4–5 sts per inch)
Bulky — US 9–11, 5.5–8mm (3–3.75 sts per inch)
Super Bulky — US 11–17, 8–12mm (<2.75 sts per inch)
Novelty — recommended needle and gauge vary

Of course, you'll need to knit a gauge swatch before starting your project to be sure your needle and yarn combination give you the correct gauge for your pattern!


KNITTING NEEDLE MATERIAL

Wood or bamboo knitting needles are warm in the hand. Needles made from wood or bamboo maintain a grip on the yarn, perfect for giving new knitters control over their yarn or for using with slippery fibers, such as silk, bamboo, or rayon.

Plastic or acrylic needles are sturdy, smooth, and cost-effective. Plastic knitting needles are frequently available in fun, bright colors for children learning to knit.

Metal needles are strong, lightweight and made of either aluminum or brass plated with chrome or nickel. Smooth metal needles slide easily across yarn fibers that stick to themselves, such as wool, mohair, alpaca, and cotton.

Carbon fiber knitting needles are made of the same material used in aerospace engineering. These needles combine the best properties of wood and metal needles—they feel warm in the hand and give control over the yarn while their high tensile strength makes them durable and lightweight.


TYPES OF KNITTING NEEDLES

The traditional knitting needle, single pointed needles have a point on one end and a cap on the other to keep stitches from falling off. These needles are sold in pairs and usually come in 10" and 14" lengths. They are used for knitting flat pieces of fabric.




Double pointed needles (DPNs) are used for knitting small circumferences in the round, such as sweater sleeves, socks, and the crown decreases of a hat. These needles have points on both ends of the shaft and range in length between 5" and 8". Double pointed needles are typically sold in sets of 4 or 5 needles.




Circular needles are two shorter needle tips connected by a cord or cable. Despite their name, circular needles can actually be used for both knitting in the round and knitting flat. These needles put less strain on a knitter's hands, wrists, and shoulders than single pointed needles by allowing the weight of the project to rest in the lap rather than on the needles. Circular needles can range in length between 9" and 60" and are measured by adding the length of both needle tips plus the cord.



addi FlexiFlips are innovative knitting needles that combine double pointed needles with circular needles to revolutionize how knitters work small circumferences in the round. These sets of 3 needles feature short needle tips connected by a short, flexible cord. Stitches are split between two needles while working with the third for fewer needle changes per row than traditional double pointed needles, resulting in less laddering at the gaps between needles.



TIPS FOR SELECTING NEEDLES

Knitting needles are all about personal preference. Some knitters can't stand wooden needles and others find metal too slippery. If you're just starting out, try out needles made of different materials to get a feel for what you prefer. Just because your friend likes a particular type of needle doesn't mean you will as well.

Find straight needles a little cumbersome? That's okay! You can knit flat on circular needles; just turn your work at the end of the row and remember not to join.

Have trouble wrangling DPNs? Try knitting on two circular needles or the magic loop method with one long circular needle.

If knitting with round needles bothers your hands, try a more ergonomic square needle, such as Knitter's Pride Cubics, Knitter's Pride Nova Cubics Platina, or addi Rocket2 (Squared).

Knitting Needle Sets and Interchangeable Circular Needle Sets are a great buy once you find a needle you tend to favor. Needle sets include several sizes, so you don't need to purchase them à la carte. They usually come in a storage case to keep all the needles together, and some sets even include other accessories. Although they can be expensive, interchangeable circular needle sets are also economical—it's much less expensive to buy one needle set with 10 pairs of tips and the cords to make three lengths of circular needles than to buy 10 sets of circular needles each in 24", 32", and 40" lengths!

Most importantly, use what works for you and the project you're working on! Your favorite needles may not work for certain projects, depending on the fiber content or thickness of your yarn or the gauge of the project.

SUGGESTED KNITTING NEEDLES AND YARNS FOR BEGINNERS

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