If you want to learn to knit, you must start with a good pair of knitting needles. But there are so many types of knitting needles out there. How do you choose?
In this guide to knitting needle types, we’ll teach you about the different types available. We’ll also discuss the various materials they come in. Finally, we’ll explain the different methods of knitting and what each type of knitting needle is for.
In short, we’ll help simplify what’s out there so you can choose the right ones for any project.
Types of Knitting Needle Materials
Bamboo Knitting Needles
Many knitters find this type of material easy to work with and gentle on the hands and joints.
Bamboo knitting needles have a grippy surface which keeps stitches from sliding off the needle. This feature is also great for knitters who like to work at a slower, even speed.
You really can't go wrong with keeping a pair of bamboo knitting needles in your Knitter's Toolkit.
Metal Knitting Needles
When you talk about knitting, most people imagine traditional aluminum needles. Aluminum is another common metal but others are also used, like steel, brass, and nickel.
Metal knitting needles are strong and durable. They also have a slick surface, which can help you knit faster.
In terms of cost, they are slightly more expensive than other materials. Still, you can find many affordable brands. And since they are long-lasting, they may be the only needles you need to buy.
Plastic Knitting Needles
This knitting needle type has many benefits. For one, they are very affordable, which always leaves more money for yarn. Yes!
They are less sticky than bamboo and less slippery than metal. Their smooth surface lets your yarn glide easily and they are very lightweight.
Commonly, plastic knitting needles come in most sizes up to a U.S. size 50 (25mm) knitting needle. If you want to finish a project in a flash, knit with large knitting needles.
Or you could make your own jumbo knitting needles, like Betsy Bond from the UK. She recently set a new Guinness World Record for World's Largest Knitting Needles.
In her interview she said: "You need air to breathe. You need food to eat. I need to make stuff.”
We feel the same way about knitting. Learn more about Betsy Bond's winning entry here.
Wooden Knitting Needles
Wood knitting needles provide a smooth, even knitting experience. Like bamboo, they’re easy on the hands. This is helpful if you suffer from joint pain or arthritis.
Depending on gauge size though, this type of knitting needle can be very heavy. The end result will be really tired hands and arms, which will cut down your knitting time.
Like to Do-it-yourself? You can make your own knitting needles. Check out our 20 Knitting Hacks for more ideas.
Carbon Fiber Knitting Needles
This knitting needle material is less common than other materials. Nevertheless, carbon fiber is lightweight and incredibly durable.
The ones pictured here are Knitter’s Pride Karbonz.
Compared to other knitting needle materials, they are the most expensive, but they are long-lasting. They could be your once and done purchase if you love them.
So far, you've learned about some common types of knitting needle materials. Now let's discuss the two methods of knitting.
Types of Knitting
Just as there are different types of needles, there are also different types of knitting. Specifically, there are two methods you should know about.
Flat Knitting / Straight Knitting
This type of knitting occurs on single-point needles, also called straight needles.
The label "flat knitting" comes from the type of knitting produced. In other words, you create a flat piece of knitting like a scarf, not a tube.
You work this method in rows with two straight knitting needles. After each row has been worked, you turn the piece and repeat the process.
Circular Knitting / Knitting in the Round
This type of knitting occurs in circular rounds or "in the round". You do not turn the work, you only knit in rounds or circles. This method produces a seamless tube.
Thus, the label "circular knitting" was born.
You can work circular knitting on double pointed needles (DPNs) or circular knitting needles.
Types of Knitting Needles
Whether you’re knitting in the round or knitting flat, there’s a type of knitting needle for that. Here we’ll discuss the different types of circular knitting needles, and straight knitting needles.
Circular Knitting Needles
In circular knitting, there are three needle categories: double pointed needles, fixed circulars, and interchangeable knitting sets.
Double Pointed Needles (DPNs)
Double pointed needles are knitting needles that have points on both ends. This allows you to work small tubes in the round, like a baby hat or a sleeve.
This type of knitting needle comes in packs of four or five. DPNs are available in lengths of 4” to 7” and come in a wide range of materials and costs.
Fixed Circular Needles
Fixed circular needles are just that: fixed. They come in preset sizes and cord lengths.
Some knitters love this type of knitting needle because there's no chance they'll come apart. Some knitters hate them because they limit their knitting. It's all a matter of preference.
You can purchase this type of knitting needle by size or in complete sets.
Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles
Interchangeable knitting needles are a pair of short, single point needles. Usually they are 4” or 5” long and joined by a flexible cord with lengths from 8” to 40”.
This type of knitting needle was designed for circular knitting but you can flat knit with them as well. Buy a single pair or the whole set!
Straight Knitting Needles
Straight knitting needles are your classic knitting needle.
Made for flat knitting, these single point knitting needles are your most common type. They come in pairs and are available in lengths of 9” to 14".
Cable Knitting Needles
This last type of knitting needle is more a tool than a needle to knit with. Cable knitting needles are used to hold stitches when making cable patterns.
Hooked, curved, or notched, cable needles are available in most materials.
We hope you've found this guide to knitting needle types, materials, and their uses to be helpful. When all is said and done, we know you'll choose the knitting needle that works best for you.
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