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What kind of knitting needles do I need?

If you’re new to knitting or returning after a break, the range of knitting needles out there can be overwhelming. Even if you’re an experienced knitter the choice is dazzling. So many styles, material, and types. Where do you start?

We say go ahead and fill your boots – but your budget probably doesn’t stretch that far!

Instead, the best place to start when choosing knitting needles is with the project you’re currently working on. The pattern may give you an idea of what type of needle to use, but we break down the main types and materials below, and explain when you might want to use them.

We also have a similar guide for crochet hooks.

Knitting needle types

Single pointed needles

These are also known as straights and are what you probably imagine when you think of a knitting needle. There’s a sharp pointy end and at the other end there’s something to stop your work falling off. Single pointed needles are mostly used for knitting flat pieces, such as blankets and garments.

Double pointed needles

These needles are also straight but have two pointed ends. Usually they come in sets of five rather than in a pair. You use them for knitting in the round projects like socks, hats, and gloves. They are ideal for smaller projects because you can work in smaller sizes.

Fixed circular needles

These types of needles are made up from two tips fixed to a flexible cable. The tips look like a single pointed needle. Both parts can vary in length depending on what you need to use the needle for. These needles come individually rather than pairs and you usually use them for knitting in the round projects. The longer lengths allow you to work on bigger projects like blankets that single pointed needles would be too small for.

Interchangeable circular needles

These are deconstructed fixed circular needles! The tips and cables come separately and you can mix-and-match based on exactly what you want to do. It also means that you can leave your work on the cable and change the tips mid-project. They can be used for the same types of projects as fixed circular needles.

Knitting needle materials

Wood

Wooden knitting needles can be made from various types of wood, and everybody has their own favourite. Wooden needles are usually warmer to the touch so they can feel more comfortable to use for longer periods. This is also good if you have any dexterity issues or joint problems like arthritis. The surface of wooden needles will be smooth but may have a little bit more grip than metal.

KnitPro Basix

Basix needles are made from birch which is the most economical type of wood available.

KnitPro Symfonie and KnitPro Ginger

Laminated birch – found in KnitPro Symfonie and Ginger ranges – is stronger than typical birch so the needles are longer lasting. They’re also a little smoother than ordinary birch.

KnitPro Cubics

If you suffer from joint pain, KnitPro Cubics are also made from laminated birch, but in a unique cuboid shape that is more comfortable than the typical round shape.

KnitPro Bamboo

Bamboo wood is well known for its strength while remaining affordable. The KnitPro Bamboo range is made from high quality Japanese bamboo.

Metal

Knitting needles come in a range of metals, from cheap and cheerful coated steel to more high quality aluminium. Metal needles tend to be less grippy than wood but more lightweight in your hand, which prevents fatigue if you’re working for a long time. They can be manufactured in a bigger range of sizes than wood and tend to be longer lasting as they’re harder to break.

KnitPro Zing and KnitPro Smartstix

Aluminium is extremely lightweight while being strong and flexible. Zing is made from high-grade aluminium and colour-coded by size. Smartstix are made from the same material as Zing but also act as a ruler, with 2cm markings down the length of the needle.

KnitPro Nova and KnitPro Nova Cubics

For a light experience in larger sizes with a highly polished surface, the Nova and Nova Cubics ranges are perfect. They’re made from hollow brass cylinders, which gives extra strength, but coated in nickel for a high shine. The Cubics are cuboid in shape so are more comfortable for anybody with joint pain.

KnitPro Mindful

This new premium range is made from stainless steel, which is light, strong, and smooth. It’s laser printed with inspirational words and many designs feature a mandala pattern on them too.

Carbon fibre

Carbon fibre is extremely strong but remains very light.

KnitPro Karbonz

KnitPro Karbonz are unique in being crafted from carbon fibre, which is as strong as you can get when it comes to knitting needles. This means they can be made in some tiny sizes and they won’t bend or break. They’re very lightweight, warm to the touch, and smooth but still have some grip to them.

Can we help you choose a knitting needle?

If you’re unsure of where to start, a more economical range is your best bet. Get a pair each in wood (KnitPro Basix) and metal (such as KnitPro Zing) to see which material you prefer. Then if you want to, you can try the fancier ranges in that colour and style, you really, really want.

To explore the different ranges further, we’ve put together a handy comparison guide.

If you’re still stuck or having trouble deciding – get in touch with us! We’ll be happy to give you advice. Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and you can only find your favourites through trial and error.

If you can, come see us at a yarn show. There’s nothing like holding the needles in your hands to see how they feel. Bring a pattern, bring your yarn – if we’re not too busy we’ll even let you take the needles for a quick test drive. Find out where we’re going to be and come cop a feel!