Knitters Toolbox – Knitting Needles

Did you learn to knit on some old needles from your grandma’s basket? Or a friend of a friend’s mom lent you some supplies she no longer uses? Perhaps aluminum ones that are really long and skinny?

I learned how to knit from a hard plastic encased kit called “I Taught Myself to Knit” in 2002.  Straight metal needles with a basic book of patterns and useful accessories and I was hooked (all the irrelevant puns intended 😆) 

When thinking I’d try my hand at a blanket I quickly realized my 10 inch straight needles weren’t gonna cut it, no matter how much I smooshed and crammed the loops to the end I wasn’t gonna get 100 plus stitches on there comfortably.

So where do you start? Let’s get into it.  Here’s a list of what is out there. Have you picked a favorite?  Do you splurge on sets or just get what you need as you need them?

Needle Materials

  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Wood (Birch, Bamboo, Driftwood, Rosewood)
  • Acrylic
  • Plastic

Needle types

  • Straight
  • Circulars
  • Dpn
  • Interchangeable and Fixed Circulars

Length

  • 8 inch circulars
  • 9inch circulars
  • 10 inch straight/circulars
  • 12 inch straight/circulars
  • 14 inch straight
  • 16 inch circulars
  • 20, 24, 32, 40, 47, 60 inch circulars

So how do you play tetris with all of this information? It’s easier than you think but your preference might take longer to develop. For example  for beginner students I always start with bamboo straight needles and cotton yarn, the drag of the cotton yarn makes for better control but as a more experienced knitter yarns on stainless steel is the best for speedier knitting.

A short list of brands you might want to consider. Hiya Hiya, Chiagoo, Knitters Pride, Addi, Susan Bates, Clover, Knit Picks. There’s many others I’m sure based on where you live but these are the ones that I’ve come across in my journey. What’s my favorite? Would you believe they all have a space in my project bags?

I tend to lean towards Knitters Pride solely based on the interchangeable ability. Their cords can be used across the entire line. Other brands like Chiagoo for example, while a step up in quality and feel, has a defined cord per size range and that can be a little cumbersome to keep up with.

These brands all come with investment type pricing but most offer some kind of sampler set, which has 2 to 3 basic sizes. Which makes it a little easier to commit to making that investment.

Ever try sock knitting? There is usually a recommendation to use DPN’s but I prefer the 9 inch circular. Never tried it? Fiddly and little awkward but trust me, it’s such a fast and easy knitting experience with them.

Do you want to start on larger projects, you might do well to find a 40 to 60 inch circular needle. Circular?? Yep. These circular needles aren’t just for making circle shaped garments like hats and socks they are also great for heavy items like afghans/blankets or sweaters that are knit back and forth where the bulk of the weight hangs out on the cord. This eases the stress on the wrists and arms (I’m not a Dr but trust me here).

By no means would this be a comprehensive list but maybe the next time you are perusing the craft section or spot a holiday type of sale you will remember to give a new knitting tool a try. Do you already have a favorite needle set? Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Did I miss something in the needle world that should be added to the list? Let’s hear your preferences.

2 thoughts on “Knitters Toolbox – Knitting Needles

  1. Same. I was taught 5 years ago with straight needles and have never used them again. Similarly my first sock class was with DPNs and I have never used them again. I use circular for everything!! Chai Goo is definitely the way to go for sock sized needles but I do love the wooden Knit Pick ones for Size 4 and up. I tried 9″ circular for the first time this summer but still prefer 2 at a time on circulars. I do still plan to try 9″ for colorwork socks to see if I prefer then. I just so like the idea of matching my mistakes when I knit 2 at a time. 🙂

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