If you’ve gone shopping for knitting needles, you’ve probably spent at least four or five minutes standing in an aisle scratching your head, especially if you’re a beginning knitter. Sometimes it seems like there are as many varieties of knitting needles as there are of yarn, and if you’re just learning, that can add up to a major headache. Never fear, though. It’s actually quite easy to figure out which knitting needles are right for you. And if you don’t like one you can always try another — that’s the best thing about knitting needles: they’re not expensive! Knitting needles come in three main types: bamboo, plastic, and metal. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and which you like best is a matter of personal choice.
1. Metal Needles
Metal needles are the most traditional, the kind you might have seen Grandma using. These days, though, Grandma might not recognize the bizarre array of metallic colors and styles they’re selling in the shops right alongside the traditional gray. Don’t worry, color really doesn’t make a difference. Pick the one you like best! A lot of people find the “clang” metal knitting needles make very satisfying (I know at least three children who constantly drop them on the linoleum just to hear the sound over… and over… and over). They slide nicely and fit well into your hands. Some people dislike the cold, artificial feel to them, though.
2. Bamboo Needles
Bamboo needles are relative newcomers to the selection of knitting needles, but they’re already a hit. Many people like them because of the warm, natural material, which feels nice to work with. As to functionality, the jury is out. Some people complain that wooden needles stick and don’t slide as well as metal or plastic, making it difficult to knit quickly. Others think that bamboo slides as well if not better than more traditional materials. Many beginners like bamboo knitting needles for exactly that reason, though: it’s harder to knock the stitches off.
3. Plastic Needles
For many years plastic was the material of choice, but many knitters now dislike the artificial constraints of plastic. On the other hand, plastic needles are cheap, slide well, and are less likely to get you thrown off an airplane than their metal counterparts. Really, though, your favorite material is a matter of personal choice. My advice? Try them all out and see what you’re most comfortable with, then stock up on your favorite knitting needles in a variety of sizes!