Your Guide to Knitting Needles

For the beginner, knitting needles are a pleasant mystery. You stand in a store and gape at rows and rows of bamboo knitting needles, colorful knitting needles, circular knitting needles, plastic knitting needles… the list goes on and on. What’s a new knitter to do? Well, never fear — here is your complete and total guide to knitting needles, everything you ever need to know — and then some.

Material and color

Color is irrelevant, a matter of personal preference (phew!). Material, on the other hand, plays a slightly more integral role in the knitting process. No knitting pattern specifically calls for, say, a bamboo knitting needle, so it’s still a personal choice. But each material has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. — Bamboo: many people like bamboo knitting needles because they’re warm, easy to work with, and very natural. They don’t work quite as smoothly as plastic. — Plastic: plastic needles are inexpensive and work smoothly, but they can break easily. — Metal: metal needles are the most traditional style. They aren’t as smooth as the other styles but some people prefer their weight.


There are three main types of knitting needles: circular, straight, and double pointed. — Circular knitting needles are small needles joined by a plastic ‘string.’ They are ideal for knitting large items like blankets where you don’t want to knit the item in pieces but would require knitting needles the size of yardsticks to accomplish that task. — Straight knitting needles are exactly what they sound like. They’re the needles you’ll use for most projects. — Double pointed knitting needles are four thin, short needles with points at both ends. You use them for knitting in the round, which means socks, mittens, and hats.

Knitting needles size

Size is the most important aspect of knitting needles. Always check the size in your pattern. If you get the wrong size, your knitting will turn out larger or smaller than intended. That might not be such a big deal with a scarf or afghan but it makes a huge difference for a sweater! Knitting needles size is measured in mm, but they also usually have a US size (such as US size 6) listed on the edge. Make sure you carefully check the size recommended in your pattern. Now that the confusion’s cleared up, enjoy shopping for knitting needles with your newfound knowledge!