The type of knitting needles and supplies a person uses would have a direct impact on the outcome of any project, regardless of level or complexity. Of course when first getting started, there would be no reason to purchase the best of the best although as time passes and skill level improves, basic tools and supplies would need to be upgraded. Because these items are so critical, we decided to offer insight into the various options available coupled with buying tips.
Interestingly, knitting needles have been used to construct all types of materials since ancient times. While the design, size, and materials have changed dramatically, the purpose of creating gorgeous and functional items remains the same. We want to point out that the type of needles used would depend on the project, which is why someone just learning to knit would use one type of needle and a seasoned knitter another type.
Regardless of a person’s skill level, it is essential to actually hold needles being considered for purchase. In addition to choosing the right size and material for the project, needles need to feel comfortable while being held. For that reason, an individual should handle several different types before making the final choice. After all, the better knitting needles feel while being held the easier and more enjoyable it would be to actually knit.
One decision when choosing knitting needles is size. Needles actually come in different size gauges based on United States, United Kingdom, Canadian, and Japanese standards. The gauge of a needle equates to diameter, which is what determines the size of the stitch or loop being created. In other words, large stitches would be made with needles of larger diameter and smaller stitches with needles of smaller diameter.
For all gauges, sizing is clearly marked on needles. Because it is common for knitters to own needles of varying gauges, we recommend using a conversation chart such as the one provided below.
|US Sizes||UK / Canadian Sizes||Metric (mm)|
In addition to gauge, knitting needles come in varying lengths. In most cases, lengths start at 18cm and go up to 40cm. However, for circular needles, 90cm length is also available. As with gauge, an individual would choose the length of needles according to the project being worked. A good rule is that long points work best for thin needles when using fine yarn whereas smaller projects can be completed better using shorter needles.
There are three primary types of knitting needles, each with unique characteristics.
- Straight – Needles of this type are commonly used for flat knitting projects. While there are several standard sizes, longer needles would be required for larger projects. A variation to this is cable needles, which are extremely short. For cable needles, there are two types to include straight and hooked.
- Double-Pointed – Sometimes referred to as “DPNS”, these needles are designed with a point on both ends opposed to just one. While different in style, double-pointed knitting needles are used for the same types of projects as circular needles such as hat tops, mittens, socks, cuffs, and more.
- Circular Needles – In this case, needles have a circular shape with points on each end. However, the needles are joined by some type of flexible cable so rather than being comprised of two pieces, there is just one. The greatest benefit is being able to create continuous, spiral styles without needing to turn work over. To avoid potential for snags, an individual should always choose circular needles of high quality.
- Interchangeable Needles – While not as common, some people prefer a kit that contains interchangeable needles. Within the kit are cords of different lengths used to attach and detach from tips. As a result, multiple needle sizes can be created.
Needles used for knitting also come in a wide range of materials. Although there are pros and cons of each, the final decision usually comes down to two things, the type of knitting project and the material that feels most comfortable while being held.
- Wooden – A popular choice for both beginners and advanced knitters is needles made from wood. Among the favorites are bamboo and rosewood. These needles are lightweight, making them easy to handle but in addition, they provide a smooth surface for working with all types of yarn.
- Metal – Although heavier in weight, metal needles make it possible to produce stitches quickly. In most cases, needles made of metal are preferred by seasoned knitters. Choices in this case include aluminum, nickel-plated, and steel.
- Plastic – Another option for materials is plastic, with Bryspun being a top choice. Plastic needles are extremely lightweight, smooth, and flexible. People of all skill levels like the versatility of plastic needles since they are easy to handle, especially for larger stitches, and they work great for all yarn types.
- Cellulose Acetate – Needles made from this material offer a smooth surface for fast knitting and come in vibrant colors
- Casein – Similar to plastic, this material is derived from milk protein. In addition to being sold in amazing colors and designs, casein knitting needles are lightweight and a breeze to use.
As part of this article on knitting needles and supplies, we want to mention that the list of supplies and tools associated with knitting is quite long. However, some items are considered more a luxury than necessity. Obviously, an individual would need to choose yarn and a pattern based on the project. However, along with these basics are many other supplies that many people find helpful. Below we provided a few examples of knitting supplies that a person could use, especially after developing knitting skills.
- Row Counter – While there are all kinds of row counters available, a person simply needs one with a simple design and accuracy. One of the more frustrating aspects of knitting is losing count of rows, which makes this tool very helpful.
- Ball Winder – Rather than have out of control yarn, a ball winder keeps yarn neat and organized. In addition, this tool is used while working on a knitting project, feeding out the perfect amount as needed.
- Thread Cutter – To keep the ends of yarn precise and intact, an inexpensive thread cutter would be an excellent investment
- Knitting Clips – For perfect finishing, these clips would be placed at regular intervals to securely hold the ends of a knitted item. With this, a seam would be kept in perfect alignment, making it possible to complete a better looking project.
- Pattern Trackers – With this tool, a knitter could avoid mistakes such as repeating or skipping a line
- Blocking Tools – One of the hardest aspects of knitting is blocking. Although there are many different blocking methods, the goal in all cases is perfection. With the right blocking tool, blocking becomes a much easier task that produces outstanding results.
- Crochet Hook – Usually, knitters choose a crochet hook in size G or H, which comes in handy when working on yarn that is too short for a conventional sewing needle to be used. However, a crochet hook is also beneficial for finishing knots and adding a decorative crocheted border.